It’s called NoteSlate and it’s going cost $99 at launch (sometime in June they say). What it is, is a very simply e-ink pad and pen. No anti-aliasing so straight up black and white. And, well, that’s sort of it.
Draw on it like a pen and paper. Save and forward pages.
It does view text and PDF files, can’t tell if it’ll be an ebook reader either, but the ability to scribble over documents and text files, that’s quite useful.
There are a few other things they say, like a solar-powered charger, draw your own UI (it’s all pen based, so why not), a built-in OCR reader (not sure how powerful that would be), Wifi, games (where you draw the icons yourself), an SD slot…
Of course, no-one knows if it’s real. No-one has seen a prototype or a video of the device in action. The broken English on the website is a bit off-putting (apparently this is coming somewhere out of the Czech Republic).
Why am I excited about this device when the iPad 2 has just been launched and there is a plethora of tablet devices from companies-not-Apple? Well, most of those devices are outside of my budget. I can’t afford to buy an extra device just because it’s tablet device. I have a laptop. Personally, I couldn’t justify the rather-expensive price of an iPad or even a smartphone (my recent new laptop which I’m very happy with costs the same as a new iPad). If you’re lucky enough to have the disposable income to buy such devices, good for you!
But what I like about the NoteSlate, it makes two items I use regularly digital.
I’m an software engineer. I use a PC all day long, writing code, putting on hardware boxes, reading specs, etc. But one thing I have that’s not digital is my trusty A4-sized writing pad. I use it to quickly write notes, to diagram ideas and designs, to discuss ideas with co-workers, illustrate problems, to doddle during meetings (very important) and jot down minutes and notes, keep track of to-dos, etc. Most of the tablet devices out there would not replace this functionality.
Also, I have a sketch book and pencil is my preferred tool for drawing. Sure, it doesn’t have anti-aliasing and it’s not a wacom pad but the ability to double up and use it to sketch, even in full day light, would suit my amateur ability fine.
And at $99, if it replaces my A4 sketch pad and notes pad and brings along all the digital benefits (like backup, practically “infinite” space, sharing with others, etc.). That’s nice.
But after the disappointment of the Microsoft Courier, I’ll just wait till June and see it first before getting too excited.