Write on paper, read on screen
In the classic science-flction film Blade Runner, former police officer Rick Deckard played by Harrison Ford, pursues Rutger Hauer’s rebel ‘replicant’ Roy Batty through a city of skyscrapers and spaceships.
We mention this because as we’re writing the page you’re reading now, the date on the clock in the corner of our screen is Roy Batty’s date of birth (8 January 2016). It’s disappointing that real-life cars still show no signs of flying and robots are barely smart enough to vacuum your living room, but maybe it’s just as well if the rest of Ridley Scott’s vision isn’t coming to pass.
Even if we haven’t got all the advances in technology we anticipated, there are some pretty striking inventions around today. One is electromagnetic resonance imaging. You might have encountered this in the form of a hospital MRI machine. Here’s a gadget that puts it in a pen. It writes in standard ballpoint ink, but also interacts with the Spark folio case to detect anything you write or draw on the ordinary A5 paper pad that sits inside it.
Up to 100 pages can be stored inside the pen, but the idea is that you press a button in the middle of the case as you finish each page to send it to your smartphone or tablet. Different versions of the Spark folio are available to hold large or small devices, so you can carry everything together, although this makes less sense for your phone, which you probably don’t want to have to fish out of a folder every time it beeps.
It’s very useful – as well as rather fun – to have your hand-drawn notes instantly available on your touchscreen, and you can use Evemote, Dropbox or Wacom’s cloud service, to keep them to hand. The images show plenty of detail, but very fine strokes can disappear and the quoted 1,024 pressure levels aren’t that subtle in practice, probably because of the thickness of paper between the pen and folio.
The A5 (half A4) size can feel restrictive, and any writing is only stored as a picture, not an editable text file. These limitations aside, the Spark is a clever accessory that would be at home in Rick Deckard’s glove compartment.
VERDICTThe Spark works well, but other digital pens might suit you better if you don’t like the idea of the folio case.
SPECIFICATIONSRechargeable pen and folio • Bluetooth 4.0 Smart • Folio 253x206x30mm (HxWxD) • 535g • Two-year warranty