Looking for a way to take notes for your next class lecture or meeting? You will find several options for taking notes in the App Store. You will find different apps such as PaperDesk, Pages, Penultimate and Sundry Notes. In this article we will focus on the PaperDesk app. We will provide reviews of other apps in the near future.
PaperDesk is an app that allows you to create digital notebooks from scratch on your iPad. The app allows you to take notes by writing directly on the screen. In addition to writing, you can also add typed notes and voice notes.
When you run the PaperDesk app for the first time, you may be a bit confused. Instead of seeing a notebook or a sheet of paper, you will be greeted by a blank wooden desk. However, there is a “new document” icon (a plus sign icon) in the upper right corner of your desk. All you need to do is tap the “plus” sign and it will bring up a dialog that allows you to create a new notebook. You have the ability to create each notebook with a unique title, and you can also use up to five different colors to identify each notebook.
Before you create a notebook, keep in mind the app allows you to create two types of notebooks. You can create a traditional notebook or a whiteboard. The whiteboard mode allows you to use VGA-out capabilities. The nice thing about the whiteboard mode is that you have the flexibility to pop up a whiteboard, connect your iPad to a projector with the Dock Connector to VGA cable, and start typing or drawing in front of an audience. This allows you to display your notes to a group while taking them.
Once a notebook has been created, an icon will show up on your desk. The notebook icon will display with the color you selected when creating the notebook. To open a specific notebook and start taking notes, simply tap on the cover icon. You can start taking notes immediately either in freehand text or by typing using the iPad’s virtual keyboard.
The app offers several options for you to change the look and feel of your notebook. You can change the type of paper you will write on at any given point. The default paper is a traditional white ruled paper, however, you can change this to many types of paper including graph paper, plain paper or yellow legal paper.
When using in portrait mode, along the top margin of the notepad you will find a set of buttons and icons. Some of this buttons or icons will not be displayed in landscape mode.
- Bookmarks button allows you to create a time and date stamped bookmark for your notes.
- Microphone icon allows you to create audio recordings while you’re taking notes.
- Rainbow icon allows you to change your pen options, spectrum of colors, and size of the pen.
- Eraser icon is obvious. The pen icon lets you start taking handwritten notes. The T icon activates the virtual keyboard.
- “Pen on Paper” icon: This is a confusing icon. When you see it for the first time you would think its purpose is to allow you to start taking notes on your notebook. The icon picture seems to indicate the creation of a new document. However, this icon will activate the mailing feature so that you can share your notebook with someone else. The shared page will be captured as a PDF file and attached to a blank email.
The freehand writing, while it is fun, sometimes is a bit tricky. The handwriting sometimes does not feel as smooth as you would like it. Of course, if you are taking freehand notes or making drawings, it is very possible you will make a mistake. But, you can rectify your mistakes. It all depends on how much time you have while listening to a lecture. Perhaps, you may want to activate typing mode when taking notes for long periods of time, and use the handwriting mode for those complex mathematical equations and network architecture diagrams.
Version 1.3 comes with new features.
- Sync feature: this feature will allow you to sync to myPaperDesk.com. The feature will allow you to upload your notebooks online for backup. You should be able to view them online and download entire notebooks as PDFs from a central location. (Note: At the time of this review the mypaperdesk.com feature was not operational)
- Clearing function: this feature allows you to clear text and drawings from your notebooks. If you want to clear text or something you may have scribbled on your notebook, you have the option to clear it. This is a quicker way to clear things from your notebook, instead of using the Eraser for everything.
What we liked: Once you become familiarized with the app, it is very easy to take and share notes. You can create separate notebooks for different projects. The recording feature is very useful.
What we didn’t like: When you need to take a large set of notes (example: a college student) it would be helpful to use a search feature capability.
The recording feature works well. You can capture the sound of a lecture or meeting while you’re typing or writing in your notes. However, we could not find a way to email the recordings. This is a feature that many could benefit from.
When pasting information into a notebook, if the pasted text is larger than the allocated page size, the app will not distribute the pasted content across multiple pages.
To buy or not to buy: Overall, this app could be useful to teachers, students and business people. It offers a quick way to take notes while in a meeting or listening to a lecture. There are certain features we would like to see added in future releases.
The app is available in both a full version and a lite version. The lite version is free, although it does limit each notebook to being three pages long. But, it is a good way to test the app before you make the decision to purchase the full version.
The full version can be downloaded for $1.99 from the App Store. If you are looking for an app that allows you to take quick notes, this app might be useful for you.
- App Name: PaperDesk
- Developer: WebSpinner
- Version used for this review: 1.3
- Price when reviewed: $1.99