I remember those Magic Slates fondly, William. Those clever low-tech toys kept me busy for hours. They really weren't much different than paper and pencil until you lifted the top sheet and watched all your work disappear. Don't know why they were so fascinating, but they were.
Would have to side with Bluebee on this one. The hi-tech aspect of this product should make techies excited about the direction of this technology. But aside from that, the "pen & paper" method as a "greener" method doesn't hold up under closer scrutiny. With a stated equivalent of 50,000 sheets of paper, the BoogieBoard is significantly more green than pen and ink. A typical pad contains 50 sheets of 8 1/2 in by 11 in paper. So the equivalent number of pads required would be 1000, at roughly 83 cents, or a total of $830; at a total weight of approximately 250 lbs (assuming a 3-4 oz per pad); at a total volume of approximately 12000 in^3 (assuming a 1/8 in thickness per pad). Not to mention the costs/weight/volume required for the numerous pens/pencils needed to write on 50k pages. Then there are the toxicity factors needed to be considered for that much ink (for the pens), and dyes in the paper, plus the manufacturing and materials required for the writing implements and the eventual disposal of the remainder at the end of their usage. Even if you used both sides of the paper, the BoogieBoard still wins on all fronts.
The one shortfall that I do see is the fact that you cannot practically transfer the data from the BoogieBoard to a computer. If that function were available, then the "pen & paper" is virtually blown away. Sharing of ideas through this product (with computer assist) would just devastate the p&p method hands down.
Thanks for reminding me the name of this easy going centuries old gadget called "Magic Slate". Of course I know it, and it doesn't work properly all the time, too. And of course, the slate has to be cheaper - it doesn't have any high tech inside. But it has been invented by a genius, too.
When I saw the Boogie Board first time, I was wondering why they are selling this stuff, the slate does (nearly) the same. That made me curious and I did some research, and I found the real novelty invention.
It's a pity that most people are only interested in criticising new ideas instead of finding out what amazing technology is enabling this. No wonder that curious Chinese people are producing innovations now.
What you describe is most definitely nifty technology, but I belive the original review and comments were specifically questioning the Use Case of the product. The original BoogieBoard is an electronic incarnation of the "Magic Slate" - a layered device containing a sheet of cellophane which covers a layer of black parafin. As the user "draws" on the cellophane using a stylus, the cellophane makes contact with the black parafin below, creating an image. The Image can then be errased by lifting the cellophane sheet from the parafin and the process is repeated. Amazon currently sells Magic Tablets in packs of 72 for US $12.99 (18 cents each)
The BoogieBoard has the same functionality at 33,000% the cost of the Magic Slate.
To understand what this board does the fine print has to be read and to understand how it works some research has to be done.
A USB connection is not there, because there is no electronics inside this Boogie Board. It has a special LCD which changes colour with pressure, and holds these color changes until an electrical impulse releases the impressions. Really simple, but ingenious. It's a gadget, anyway.
The same company which developed this Boogie Board developed LCDs which don't loose their content when power off, like the Boogie Board does, but it has electronic circuits to be able to write on it like on a normal LCD. The great advantage is, that it does need power only for writing and wiping, but doesn't need any power to hold the data. This is a revolutionary product. Together with an FRAM microprocessor it is now possible to build text and graphic devices with the lowest energy ever possible: no energy needed anymore - only temporary when updating data. Numerous applications are possible now, which haven't been possible in the past. Not developed by monkeys.
D. Sherman has a good point about actual paper looking pretty good compared to this. But Johnny Carson said it long ago. Somebody (from HP I think) was on the Tonight Show demonstrating a new little tablet product where you could write on the flat screen with a stylus and then save what you wrote to view later. Johnny Carson took the wind out of the guys sails by saying "Don't we already have something like that? Called a pencil and paper?" The guy's smiling face went blank.
Good point about the battery voltage. I'm still seeing a whole lot of new products in which the manufacturer somewhere in the fine print says that alkaline batteries should be used rather than rechargeables. Alkalines put out 1.4 volts, whereas NiCd and NiMH puts out 1.2 volts. The difference between 2.8 and 2.4 volts is usually enough to affect the operation of the devices. This is inexcusable on the part of the engineers and frustrating to consumers who expect all AA or AAA batterie to work equally well, and are trying to "go green" (or go cheap) by using rechargeables. Everything designed today that runs on a pair of AA or AAA cells should be designed and tested work down to 2.2 volts.
If not, put in a 3-cell holder and let the marketeers whine about the "form factor" being too large. What's better, a device that is slim and doesn't work or is slightly larger and does? In this case, however, I suspect the poor display is a result of very hard push to keep costs down and no amount of battery voltage wouild improve the contrast.
I also can't imagine what purpose there is in a device that is nothing more than a poor subsitute for a pad of paper. With paper you get better resolution, better contrast, and full color capability. You also get the ability to save (for thousands of years if desired) your work in a format that is inherently human-readable without any additional technology. Need a quck-erase function? tear of the sheet of paper, throw it out, and start with another sheet. In ecological terms, there is no way a pad of paper can have anywhere near the carbon footprint of a pad-sized globally-manufactureed electronic device, and of course paper is biodegadable, non-toxic, and suitable for use as fuel in waste-to-energy plants.
All in all, this is the most useless application of sillicon and software I've ever heard of. Even a musical greeting card at least provides some real value above that of a plain greeting card.
I agree it sounds like the battery cover design was confusing. I don't know why they would have two sets of + signs. I also don't understand how it could even run at all if the batteries were not installed properly.
Reading the description however, I have to agree with the others that said if they didn't design in a USB port so you could save your sketches and notes the device is total useless. Even the new model that allows you to save to a microcard is a poor design. This requires you to have a card reader attached to your computer and then hopefully they are not using an obscure or propritary file format, or you will not be able to do anything with the files after you save them.
With no means to save the sketches I see the device as useless, the micro card soultions is a kludge of a fix, but better than nothing, if only barely. I believe the original poster said he paid $60 for the device. I think he would have been better off saving a little longer and buying on of the new tablet PCs. At least they allow saving printing and internet.
If the thing does not have any means to offload the images that are drawn on it, what good is it? If it saves to permanent memory it may have some value, but the major value would be in serving as an off-line input device.
As for the battery markings, with two batteries you have four ways to put them in, and three of them are wrong. All good products have battery polarity not only well marked, but the connections are made to be intuitively obvious to at least a lot of people. I would have examined the product manual to find the correct battery orientation.
But before you give up on the contrast you need to verify that the batteries are not the problem, since poor contrast is a fairly common symptom of weak batteries. If you don't have at least three volts across the ends of the battery string then they are not at full charge, and you should try putting in a new set that has enough output.
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