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May 11, 2011 1:44 PM   Subscribe

Decent iPad app and stylus for note-taking?

I've had an iPad for a while, and I am quite enamored with it. Unfortunately, actually typing into the thing is a chore, and one of the whole appeals of a tablet computers (at least in my visions of the future from when I was a kid) was that you'd be able to take notes on it like a good old fashion pen-and-paper notebook. I was wondering if there are any good applications and styluses out there that the Hivemind can recommend to help me fulfill this childhood dream of mine.
posted by Weebot to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
People seem to like penultimate. I haven't found a stylus I like, though.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 1:50 PM on May 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

The guys who made the iPhone Glif are working on an iPad stylus called the Cosmonaut that might be of interest. Their Kickstarter project has closed so it might be a while before they're available for sale elsewhere.
posted by bcwinters at 1:57 PM on May 11, 2011

I use the dictation apps (Dragon is the one I use most often) and it's pretty good. Took me a while to get the hang of the page breaks, etc.

Buying the separate keyboard was also helpful, but I wish the iPad could be turned into landscape while in use.
posted by Ideefixe at 2:04 PM on May 11, 2011

I use a Boxwave stylus and the Notetaker HD app. The thing I like about the app is that you can zoom in on a box on the screen and write in that. I haven't seen a stylus with a narrow tip, and the zooming feature lets me avoid taking up the entire screen with a few words. It took me about a week to get used to it, but now I comfortably use it to do page after page of long calculations. It also uploads nicely to Dropbox.
posted by capsizing at 2:28 PM on May 11, 2011

I also use the Boxwave stylus. It definitely takes some time to get used to writing with a blunt-tipped stylus, but I do find it usable. I use Noteshelf, which does a decent job with the notetaking itself, and exports elegantly into Evernote or Dropbox (or the iPad photo gallery). I know there are some other apps which have their own syncing capability or integrate automatically with other syncing apps, which might be nice if you don't already use Evernote or Dropbox. I also wish Noteshelf, like some other notetaking apps, had the ability to switch off between stylus writing and use of the keyboard.
posted by maxim0512 at 4:42 PM on May 11, 2011

Buying the separate keyboard was also helpful, but I wish the iPad could be turned into landscape while in use.

I don't know about the original iPad, but I am using my Apple bluetooth keyboard with my iPad 2 solely in landscape mode (with the smart cover forming a stand for the iPad).
posted by impluvium at 4:45 PM on May 11, 2011

I'm currently trialing Notetake HD and Penultimate. Currently loving Notetaker a bit more because it has great functionality for filling out forms. Penultimate is good if you don't need that capability as much.
posted by honeybee413 at 4:56 PM on May 11, 2011

I use Notesplus and the cheapish Targus stylus.

I am a lawyer and need to take lots of notes, quickly and throughout the day. What I like about Notesplus is that it allows me to organize my notes into "virtual" client folders and has password protection. In addition, I am able to email the notes to myself in pdf format. There isn't much lag when using the stylus and the writing is pretty smooth. It doesn't have dropbox support yet, but will with version 3 which is coming out soon, which leads into the biggest reason I love this app - the developer is very hands on, answers emails and really pays attention to the user.
posted by miss meg at 9:55 PM on May 11, 2011

There are way too many options out there, and so far I can't find the one killer note taking app that does everything I want.

I'm using UNote as a combined pdf markup tool, drawing applicatiion and notetaking app (ie, discussing a document in a large group). Simplenote for anything pure text. Adobe Inspire Pro for anything pure drawing. Goodreader and Files Connect to actually move documents between Mac, PC and iOS.

UNote is OK, though I honestly can't write with a stylus (or pen and paper) any faster than I can type on the glass. I use the cheapo targus stylus and it's great, though I've not tried the more expensive ones. UNote is nice because I can zoom way in, which lets me get a lot on a page without needing to write small. It also lets you set a "dead" area on the screen so you can rest your hand/wrist on it without interfering with your writing. Oh, and there's a free version you can try.

I've not used Penultimate, but people love it. It's gorgeous, but it seems more pretty than functional. That might be exactly what you want, though.

I use the apple wireless keyboard any time I need to take a lot of notes, though. You know, getting tapped to be the sucker keeping minutes for a 3 hour meeting. It works with both my iPhone 4 and iPad and it is truly lovely. It's just about the best keyboard made these days and it only weighs about 11oz. It's great not having that big screen in front of me creating a wall on the conference table. With both devices I can use the phone for text capture and the tablet for drawing.
posted by pjaust at 5:18 AM on May 12, 2011

I have tried a lot of the various note-taking applications, and the only one that has come close to meeting all of my needs is Notes Plus as another person recommended above. Penultimate is definitely the best looking, but it's really not very functional.
posted by BenS at 2:43 PM on May 17, 2011

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