The e-pens Mobile Notes kit comprises a USB receiver, character recognition software, and a digital pen that looks and feels like a better-than-average ballpoint.

Installation is simple - if you have Microsoft Internet Explorer as your default browser. This will be a problem for the 46 percent of PCA readers who don't: want to use this product so badly you'll dump Firefox?

If that's a deal you can make, you'll get a slick and stylish e-pen. It comes with both pen and stylus inputs, so you can write in ink when away from your PC, or use the stylus atop the table when the base unit is attached, enjoying preview on your PC screen.

There's no preview on the small, plasticky base unit, which attaches to your PC via a mini-USB cable. Carrying a cable around smarts when products such as the Dane-Elec Zpen have integral USB, but it means you can write with the base unit attached to paper and PC.

The base unit does have a display, but this is a time machine that nearly pre-dates LCD - the only information available is mode, number of notes saved, and a battery meter.

The pen is easy to use and responsive (although you can tell this only when you have PC preview). The NoteManager software allows you to capture, edit and save notes. It's easy to use and you can edit as you go.

MyScript is the intelligent character recognition (ICR) software. In the scheme of such things it works well. (Or, as MyScript tells it: 'it muds well'.) In fairness, your author's handwriting is like a spider in a bath and with training things got better. MyScript is one of the better such products we've used, but you'll be limited to concise, well-written note taking.

You can also use the e-pen as a general Windows input device.


A superior example of the digital pen breed, the e-pens Mobile Notes is full of features and easy to use. The pen itself looks and feels good, and the software is slick. Down sides are the build quality of the base unit, the need to carry a mini-USB cable, and the intrinsic flaws of ICR software. And remember, you’ll need to use Internet Explorer as your default browser, for the installation process at least.