Adesso CyberPad Review

by Jerry Jackson Reads (20,669)

by Jerry Jackson

Anyone who has ever needed to write down notes and then put them into an electronic document or email has wished for an easy way to turn pen and paper into "digital ink." Adesso comes to the rescue with their new CyberPad digital notepad and graphics tablet. Now you can create a digital record of your paper notes for easy transfer to electronic format. Better still, you can connect your digital notepad to your computer and use it as a graphics tablet. If this is what you are looking for, you may want to check out the Adesso CyberPad.

Adesso CyberPad Specifications:

  • Active Area: 8 ½" x 11"
  • Writing Height: Around 135 Sheets of paper
  • Built-In Memory: 32MB (More than 150 Digital Sheets)
  • Expandable Memory: SD Slot
  • Power Saving Mode: 5 Seconds Auto Standby
  • Connection: USB 1.1
  • Resolution: 1024 LPI (Lines Per Inch)
  • Data Rate: 160 PPS (Points Per Second)
  • Digital Ink Pen: 15 Months battery life with LED low battery indicator
  • BatteryLife: Includes 4 x AAA batteries with 20hrs writing time and 68hrs standby time
  • Dimensions: 13" x 9.9" x 0.5" (L x W x H)
  • Weight:1.5 lbs.
  • Price:
    • $199 without Photoshop Elements 5.0
    • $229 with Photoshop Elements 5.0


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Why use a CyberPad rather than a Tablet PC, which lets you write directly on the screen? For starters, the CyberPad allows you to leave your bulky laptop or tablet at home. It serves as a mobile digital notepad without the need to connect to a PC. The CyberPad also allows you to instantly turn pen and paper notes into digital files. You can leave a hard copy with a client at a business meeting and have a digital copy for your own records or to create a duplicate hard copy later.

Of course, there’s also the cost benefit: the CyberPad costs 10 percent of the price of a budget Tablet PC.

Adesso claims the CyberPad was designed to meet the needs of a variety of consumers. Education users (teachers and students), healthcare professionals, insurance field reps, lawyers, government workers, business professionals, journalists, architects, receptionists, graphic artists and photographers all have something to gain from this device. At least that’s what Adesso wants you to believe.

Package Contents:

  • Pad
  • Pen with tablet nib and two ink pen nibs
  • Application and Driver CDs (4)
  • Portfolio case
  • 8.5" X 11" Paper Notepad
  • AAA Batteries x 5
  • USB Cable
  • Battery charger

Design and Build

The Adesso CyberPad is a simple and straightforward design that looks something like an "electronic clipboard." In fact, that’s a good description of what it’s like to use the CyberPad. The silver plastic clip above the tablet surface holds a pad of 8.5" x 11" paper and you use the inicluded pen to write on the paper like any normal clipboard. The CyberPad tablet surface and pen work together to record what you write in electronic format.

The all-plastic construction gives the CyberPad a slightly cheap feel, but keeps the weight low. The included portfolio case keeps the CyberPad protected and helps make this digital notepad look like a professional tool.


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The CyberPad obtains power from four common AAA rechargeable batteries. Alkaline batteries work just as well (if not better) but Adesso includes rechargeable batteries and a battery charger with the CyberPad.


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Connections are made via the CyberPad’s single USB port.


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When transferring files from the CyberPad’s built-in memory or using the CyberPad as a graphics tablet connections are made with a single USB port located on the side of the tablet. The supplied USB cord used for tethering the CyberPad to your PC as a graphics tablet is good, but a little short in that it doesn’t give you the ability to work with the CyberPad at a long distance from your desk. You can use the CyberPad tethered on your desk, but it’s a little difficult to use the CyberPad as a graphics tablet on your lap because of the short cord.

Setting Up the CyberPad

With few exceptions, setting up the CyberPad really is as easy as connecting the CyberPad via the provided USB cable, installing the drivers and included software, and using it. Regardless of whether you’re using the CyberPad with a laptop’s built-in monitor or a multiple-monitor extended desktop, the CyberPad automatically adjusts so that pen tracking works with few issues.

Adesso also provides a range of bundled software with the CyberPad, which includes:

  • Photoshop Elements 5.0: A simplified version of Adobe Photoshop designed for casual photographers.
  • PhotoImpact 12 SE: A user-friendly image editing tool similar to Photoshop Elements
  • MyInk: This application acts as a bridge between the CyberPad and a variety of other applications so you can transfer your writing and drawing to programs such as Microsoft Office and Outlook or any TWAIN-compliant image editing program.
  • Free Notes: A hand-written note application which allows you to include hand-written notes in emails or to create pop-up reminder notes on your desktop.
  • Power Presenter RE: Turns your computer screen into a digital whiteboard/blackboard and works with Microsoft PowerPoint.
  • Office Ink: Allows you to create digital signatures to instantly sign your name.
  • MyScript: An easy-to-use handwriting recognition program for transferring written notes to electronic format.

Keep in mind that Photoshop Elements 5.0 only comes with the CyberPad if you purchase the package that includes Elements … which is $30 extra.

Pen and Tablet Performance

The resolution and data rate of the CyberPad and pen work perfectly for recording a digital copy of your notes. After you write on a piece of paper placed over the CyberPad and export your digital copy to a computer you will instantly see a very accurate copy of your written text.

With resolution and data rates (1,024 LPI, 160 PPS) which are sub-par compared to graphic tablets from Wacom (5,000+ LPI, 200+ PPS) graphics performance was predictably less smooth and precise than we hoped. That said, the Wacom tablet that comes closest to the CyberPad’s 8.5" x 11" form factor (the Wacom Intuos3, 9×12) costs $450 … while the CyberPad only costs $230 (or less at most retail stores).

Given the huge cost savings, it’s easy to forgive some performance limitations. The CyberPad tracks quickly with minimal lag that only becomes obvious when moving the pen back and forth rapidly. Unlike more expensive Wacom tablets, the Adesso CyberPad appears to have only two distinguishable levels of pressure sensitivity. This means pressure sensitive functions in both Photoshop and Corel Painter don’t perform exactly as expected. You can either move the pen around the image or you can press down and apply a brush, but the brush intensity doesn’t change as you apply more pressure.

The included grip pen is a simple unit without buttons and featuring a low-battery indicator light.


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While the all-plastic pen is reasonably comfortable to use, it is a bit on the heavy side. The contoured grip area is thick enough to promote good pen holding habits (and reduce long-term fatigue). The rubberized finish on the grip area has the right amount of give and a nice, easy to hold texture. Power is supplied from a single AAA battery.


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Unfortunately, the lack of function keys/buttons on the pen makes the pen a little less convenient. Likewise, it would have been nice if a spring-loaded eraser tip was located at the opposite end of the pen. Most pens on graphic tablets have erasers that automatically call up the eraser tool in many common graphic design programs. These erasers even work to highlight and delete text in Microsoft Word. Too bad there’s no eraser on the CyberPad’s pen. Pen tips are removable/replaceable, and Adesso supplies two ink pen tips and one tablet nib stored in a convenient compartment on the side of the CyberPad.


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If you use the CyberPad as a graphics tablet you’ll need to swap out the stock pen tip for the included tablet version.


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In Use

The CyberPad lets you view, edit and email your hand-written notes with relative ease. Using Evernote and riteMail, you can easily view, edit and organize your digital pages in Windows. Handwriting recognition software searches through handwritten notes and identifies text for easy formatting and export.

After using the CyberPad you will quickly remember that pen and paper is the most natural way to record notes. Just write on the paper using the included ink pen tip and your handwriting is digitally captured and stored into pad’s memory (or an SD card) in real time.


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The 32MB of built-in memory allows for approximately 160 pages of storage, and the SD card slot lets you expand the storage capacity up to another 2GB for thousands of pages of storage. Unfortunately, the SD card slot on the CyberPad is not compatible with SDHC cards and therefore is limited to 2GB of storage.

Complete editing functions include the ability to recolor, highlight, copy, paste, and erase the written notes. You can save the digital pages in JPG, BMP or GIF formats for easily sharing your notes with others via e-mail. You can also export files to PowerPoint, Word or Outlook.

All those features are nice, but as far as I’m concerned the big attraction to the CyberPad is the ability to use it as an inexpensive graphics tablet. Again, similarly sized tablets cost more than $400, so the CyberPad offers you a great value at only $200. Still, the low resolution, slow data rate, lack of multi-level pressure sensitivity and eraser function make the CyberPad less than ideal for artists and photographers. I also wish the CyberPad featured more programmable buttons around the tablet surface for controlling Photoshop.

Nevertheless, it’s hard to complain about a $200 graphics tablet with an 8.5" x 11" surface.


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Simply set the CyberPad on your desk or set it in your lap and you’re ready to draw. If you’re used to working on an angled drawing or drafting table, the CyberPad lacks this functionality … unless you have a nice drafting table to set it on.

Conclusion

Overall, the Adesso CyberPad is an interesting solution to a range of minor problems that many people face. Business people can now easily transfer written notes into electronic format without wasting large amounts of time and money. Artists and photographers can now have a large graphic tablet that is extremely affordable.

So what’s keeping me from buying a CyberPad? Low resolution, slow data rate and only two pressure sensitivity settings for graphics. Sure, the CyberPad works as a graphics tablet in Photoshop and costs less than half the price of similarly sized tablets, but the lack of multi-level sensitivity, low resolution, and slow data rate means it really can’t perform half as well as smaller tablets from other companies.

If you need a simple solution for taking written notes and turning them into electronic notes … or if you need a large graphics tablet and can’t afford to spend more than $200 then the Adesso CyberPad is your best choice.

Pros

  • All-in-one solution for traditional ink and "digital ink" notepad use
  • Built-in memory and SD card reader make wireless note taking easy
  • Power-saving functions work perfectly
  • Low price

Cons

  • Low resolution
  • Slow data rate
  • No multi-level pressure sensitivity
  • Heavy pen with no pen buttons
  • Not enough programmable buttons on the tablet
  • Questionable build quality


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