I’ve been trialling a new product over the last few weeks called Papershow. The Papershow website proudly proclaims that it will help you survive meetings, which is a pretty bold claim. I have to say that, while my meeting survival rate is up for debate, I’ve been pretty impressed with what I’ve seen.
Papershow is a bluetooth pen and USB dongle: the dongle plugs into your Windows PC and contains all the drivers and software needed to operate the pen. This, in combination with special paper, means that anything you draw or write in your notebook happens on-screen as well. It’s basically a smartboard that you control by drawing on paper rather than on the board itself. If you choose, your scrawls could then be projected for everyone to see in real-time.
But why not use a proper smartboard instead? Well, if that’s what you really want to do there’s no reason not to, but Papershow gives you another option. Choice is good, remember :) I find that the constant tapping on a smartboard is a little annoying, so it’s good not to have that. It’s also good to be able to pass the pen and notebook to someone else if they want to contribute to a diagram without having to wait for them to make their way to the board. The downside, though, is that it’s a bit odd not to have the person “presenting” actually standing at the front of the room, and if you are presenting yourself it’s a bit strange not being able to simply point to something on the board that you want to emphasise.
Having said that, this is a great piece of kit. The pen is thicker than normal but still easy to write with. The icons on the notebook take a bit of getting used to, but once you’re up to speed you can be changing colour, line thickness, and so on as if there’s no tomorrow. The pen and software are nice and responsive, and even managed to keep up with the hieroglyphs I laughingly call my handwriting.
The only thing that comes to mind as needing improvement is the manual; the booklet you get with the Papershow tells you how to get up and running, but it’s not particularly in-depth. Whilst Papershow is quite intuitive, I did spend quite a bit of time trying to work out how to wipe my documents off the dongle again. Perhaps a comprehensive manual would be a good idea for people who don’t want to play around with the software, or are afraid to do so in case they break something.
Oh, and one more nice feature to finish up with: you can import powerpoint slides and draw all over them. You have to use the special paper again, and this means printing your powerpoint out beforehand, but it is a good way of getting interaction in meetings by letting people write on your presentation. What this does mean, though, is that using Papershow isn’t quite as spontaneous as it looks in the promotional videos: you can’t just wander into a meeting, randomly pull your pen out, and start doodling away… but with a bit of forethought I can see this being a useful tool to have available.
For more information on Papershow, visit their site at www.survivingmeetings.com.