How can I take my notetaking to the cloud? (iPad? Livescribe?)
March 17, 2014 1:03 PM   Subscribe

My house is filled with small reporter notebooks filled with notes/interview records for writing projects I've worked on. I've gone electronic in all of my other paperwork, and it has changed my life. How can I do the same with my notebooks?

I often take notes (mostly during interviews) for different projects in reporter style notebooks. I'd love to get rid of the paper and have them accessible forever. Usually I just handwrite. I was thinking an iPad might replace them, but not sure if there are any apps/styli that are good enough to do this. Any thoughts on this? And what kind of iPad? (Could I get the cheaper kind, or the mini?)

The alternative is livescribe pen -- would still have the paper, but it would be in the cloud (and would be cheaper.) I've heard mixed reviews, but would definitely consider this as an option.

Would love any thoughts on how I could make this work!

posted by caoimhe to Technology (9 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
I love using iPad + Notability + cheap stylus from Kmart for note-taking.
posted by i_am_a_fiesta at 1:20 PM on March 17, 2014

OneNote and Evernote are available for free on iOS, OSX, Windows, Android, etc. Don't build your routine around specific hardware, give yourself a few options, try them, and settle on what you like best.
posted by blue_beetle at 1:49 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

My entire personal life is in Evernote, which does audio notes (also Facetime notes!) and is available on all platforms. You should try it and see if the recording quality is to your liking and what the file size is like. You don't need any specific device, you just need one with enough space to at least temporarily carry around as many audio files as you usually need (which you could then archive to a big external drive when you don't need them immediately available).
posted by Lyn Never at 2:16 PM on March 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Some observations about today's OneNote announcement:

• Notebooks created in Windows are incompatible with iOS OneNote
• It forces you to save to the MS Cloud. You cannot use the app without being signed in to Microsoft’s cloud and hence all documents are uploaded to MS’s Cloud
• It is slow
• Lacks support for embedded files (it displays an apology in a dialog if you try) and can only embed image files from a dialog
• Far fewer capabilities in general compared with OneNote PC (embed options, drawing, change tracking, etc.)
• You cannot print notebooks (very odd) which also prevents you from printing to PDF
• Only way to print notebooks is in a roundabout way, using "Share -> Email as PDF", extracting the PDF from the email, and then printing the PDF
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:29 PM on March 17, 2014

Ugh! Microsoft is still being super lame towards Mac users. Thanks for the info, Blaze; I was holding out to see if the new OneNote would be a game-changer, but I guess I'll give Evernote a try again.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 3:58 PM on March 17, 2014

My experience with LiveScribe has been that it works well if your handwriting is big (most of my coworkers) but doesn't work so well if you have small handwriting (me). It is also great if you write down a lot of things with audio components (class lectures, business meetings, etc) since you can crossreference & sync up the audio file with your writing.

iPad styluses are variable for writing. One of my coworkers swears by the new Evernote styluses (he also has huge handwriting), but the ones I've tried in general don't seem great outside of art-related things. Avoid the ones with the little discs, because they can permanently scratch your tablet screen. I usually debind notebooks after writing with standard pen & paper and scan as a PDF, then upload the PDF to Evernote.

In terms of iPad model, I have the Air because most documents I read are textbooks/academic papers and it's nice not having to zoom. The Minis reportedly have some color gamut issues, but that's probably not an issue for you if you mostly want to store your own notebooks and it might be a better fit due to its portability and the fact that reporter notebooks are quite small to begin with. Either way, 16 GB should be more than enough unless you also want to read magazines with lots of images, game, etc, and Evernote also has cloud storage options.
posted by angst at 5:02 PM on March 17, 2014

I have the Evernote stylus and use it with their Penultimate app. It's the best iPad handwriting experience. However, I'm not sure id use it for really full time, detailed note writing.

It's still a bit wonky with pen detection / hand rejection.

It does work better with an iPad Air than older iPads.

The stylus' power button is in a terrible place and I keep hitting it as I write. And it seems to eat batteries. However, it is the most precise stylus that I've tried. I also own a Cosmonaut, but have tried a bunch.

I suspect that handwriting and scanning into Evernote would likely be your best combination. That way, you optimize for both portability and ease of writing notes, as well as storage and recall.

The Mini is a great iPad, but I wouldn't want to write on it due to the smaller screen. My wife has one. The "color gamut issue" is pretty much non-existent in real life.
posted by reddot at 5:25 PM on March 17, 2014

Seconding the ipad + Notability + cheap stylus. I do all of my writing this way.
posted by dreamingviolet at 7:47 AM on March 18, 2014

Would you pay $25 per notebook? I just read about modnotes and was reminded of this question. "Once users are done filling the notebook, they send it off for digitization that occurs free within five days, and then those pages are available via Mod Notebooks’ web app." I cannot tell how many pages are in each notebook, but it would take a while to reach the cost of a tablet even at that price.
posted by soelo at 5:13 PM on March 18, 2014

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