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Write On: Making the Crossover from Note-Taking to the PC

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Before the emergence of Cross Pen Computing Group's CrossPad, taking notes and managing them on the PC were seemingly worlds apart. But with its arrival, the CrossPad has managed to bridge those disparate realms, creating a handy writing tool that allows you to upload notes directly onto the PC.

The CrossPad is a Portable Digital Notepad weighing a mere 2.2 pounds and only 3/4" thick. It can be carried just about anywhere. Whether you're a jet-setting professor or a busybody student, you will find the Crosspad's features and contents to be a blessing.

This tool is approximately 8.5'' by 11" in tablet size. You slip the backing card of any letter size 50-page notebook tablet into its slot. What is unique about it is that it makes use of a special CrossWriter digital pen. A small radio frequency transmitter sends data by the pen stroke to the notepad. It also incorporates IBM's Ink Manager software, which provides note editing, searching, organization and sharing tools. Additionally, the Ink Manager creates INK format files you can share by e-mail with other Windows users and also save them in JPG, TIF or BMP formats and export them to other applications.

Ink Manager automatically converts words you designate as keywords on your CrossPad to text in your file. The keywords are used to index main ideas visually and digitally, letting you search for them between files. It is able to store up to 50 pages of letter size, single-spaced text or 100 pages or more of notes to upload onto your PC. You also get batteries, an easy-to-use instructional guide, a quick reference card and five replacement ink cartridges.

The CrossPad is great for individuals who indulge in heavy note taking. It is also a handy tool if you're a teacher who incorporates the use of lecture notes in the classroom. You can simply print out your notes from the PC and distribute them directly to students. Additionally, you can cut and paste your note text to almost any Windows application.

Keywords you select ensure that you are able to track all your notes once they have been transferred to your PC. You can also mark a page of your notes by adding bookmarks. A special feature of the Ink Manager is handwriting recognition. By following through on the accompanying Supplemental Handwriting Guide, you can actually teach the Ink Manager to recognize your writing style.

Despite its lightweight frame, the CrossPad is not as easy to stow away or hold as a conventional notepad. Also, priced at $299.95 per unit, it is not really economically sound for the typical student. Only serious note takers or educators who directly incorporate this tool into their curriculum will find the CrossPad beneficial. For the CrossPad to work to your full benefit requires time and patience on your part. You must genuinely want to bridge the world of your PC with the world of note-taking in order to benefit from the CrossPad.

--Alissa Hiraga
ahiraga@thejournal.com

This article originally appeared in the 09/01/1999 issue of THE Journal.

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