16 November 2011

Boogie Board Rip - Review

Perhaps I should have titled it "The Tale Of Two Tablets".  A few months ago I picked up myself and Asus Eee Note, the main selling point to me was the integrated Wacom digitiser making me believe this could be a useful sketching device.  Unfortunately the software on it was a custom operating system based on Qt (framebuffer) and was pretty deficient from a sketching point of view.  So I offloaded the thing off on eBay....

Then I heard about the new version of the Boogie Board which is less of a tablet, more of a paper replacement, but it would have a saving capability for pictures.  All for the price of £100 + VAT.  The Boogie Board RIP has a 9.5 inch area for drawing on and can even capture those renderings. The way the display on previous boogie boards worked was impressive in that it only consumed power to blank the display, and putting pressure on the display caused an image to be formed.

I did wonder how on earth they would have taken that technology and been able to capture the images.  But the guys at Improv Electronics are much smarter than that, it looks like the way it works is there is a separate digitiser to the screen, so it is kind of like a graphics tablet where you can see the image you are also drawing.  You have to wake the digitiser to start using it and press the Save button to store the file.  The digitiser stores the file in a vector-based PDF leading to some quite nice images.

The primary reason to get hold of it was for sketching and note-taking.  Also, I wanted to actually be able to use the device on Linux, and since when you connect it, it just appears as a mass storage device meaning a win there compared to other connection mechanisms (like in the Eee Note).

The device itself is light and flimsy in the best possible way, making it easy to hold and also you don't worry too much about protecting the device rather than actually using it.  The battery apparently lasts for a week on a charge, but I have no idea the amount of charge my device is currently holding because it has no indicator.  This is not necessarily a problem because the device is ludicrously stripped down and simple, so I see it has having an incredibly simple UI.

The only criticism I have about the device is more subtle than most people would notice.  Because the digitiser and display are separate devices they seem to work at different resolutions.  The digitiser is highly accurate by the look of it generating cleaner and thinner lines, but the reactive display generates thicker less accurate lines.  This may also be due to the design of the pen nib.  The pen itself is required to capture input, and I found it comfortable to use.

Overall the Boogie Board Rip is a cool little device good at the job it was designed to do.  I'm still trying to work out the best way it will be my digital sketchpad but it is the device I have seen get closest to what I want (in fact if they did a really large A3 version that would be awesome).  The guys at Improv Electronics have done an excellent job.

You can buy them in the UK from Improv Electronics for £120 including VAT.

This is a picture comparing the PDF output to theactual display - you can see finer lines on the image compared to the screen where some lines bleed into one another.

And some quick two minute sketches of Rodimus and Megatron.