Ever since online teaching has become a thing, teachers are searching for the digital equivalent to their whiteboard and marker.
Although there are solutions such as “Pen Tablets” available in the market that help you write digital notes, but they are not perfect.
So what is the perfect digital alternative to a whiteboard?
Well, iTeltronics have come up with a digital notepad called iScribe, which they believe to be a superior and cost-effective solution to anything else available in the market today.
The iScribe A4 notepad is specifically made for online teaching, and has features that help you throughout the teaching process.
In this hands-on iScribe digital notepad review, we will help you figure out whether this device is the right fit for your teaching needs or you should look elsewhere.
What is so different about the iScribe digital notepad
The company “iTeltronics” has gone with a very smart design approach. iScribe is basically a digital clipboard.
It comes with an A4 sheet size cutout, where you can place an A4 size paper (sheet). The included D1 active stylus has a ballpoint nib that writes like a normal pen and behaves like a digital stylus.
So when you write on the paper placed over the notepad, your handwritten notes are converted into digital format in real-time.
As simple as it sounds, iScribe is a very powerful device and comes with several advanced features to help you teach better.
Let’s have a detailed look at everything this digital notepad has to offer.
Unboxing: what you get in the box
Here are all the contents of the box.
- iScribe digital writing pad
- Rechargeable stylus
- 4 Extra Pen nibs
- Nib recover tool
- USB cable for connectivity
|iScribe A4 USB|
|Size (working area)||210mm x 291.5mm|
|Dimension||241mm x 349mm x 19.5mm|
|Co-ordinate Resolution||22600 x 16650|
|Stylus||D1 Active pen|
|Stylus Battery Capacity||500 mAh|
|Refill/ Nib Size||mini ball pen standard refill|
|Report Rate||200 Hz|
|OS Support||Win, Mac, Linux, Android|
|Weight||500 grams (1.1 pound)|
Design and Build Quality
The iScribe follows a very simple design. The majority of the space is taken by the massive A4 size cutout at the center.
To hold the paper in place the device comes with some high quality and sturdy paper clip. The paper clip also doubles as a pen holder and stores the stylus in the recessed space underneath it.
Around the working area, you will find narrow bezels that work as a palm rest and helps when writing near the edges of the paper.
Since you are writing on paper with a ballpoint pen, on a device that resembles a clipboard – iScribe gives you the most natural and comfortable writing experience.
The only design element where the notepad falls short is – it comes with a micro-USB connector, a USB-C connector would have been convenient.
Moving on to the build quality, even though iScribe is throughout made of plastic, the overall look and feel of the writing pad is actually really good.
Everything is well put together with no loose or moving part, giving you a quality in-hand feel.
Further, the plastic material makes the body lightweight, and combined with its thin profile and fairly compact size, you will have no problem carrying it around in your bag alongside your laptop.
On the back of the notepad, you will see two large strips made of grippy material. They stop the pad from sliding around on smooth surfaces.
Setup: connecting the teaching pad to the computer
The first step to connecting the iScribe notepad is to download and install the iScribe application from the download page (new tab).
Next, simply connect the micro-USB connector to the top left edge of the writing pad and USB-A connector end to the laptop/PC.
That is it, your teaching pad is ready.
The iScribe A4 comes with a simple yet powerful application that is specifically made for teaching purposes.
Once you connect the teaching pad to the computer > start the “iScribe4U application” and hit “connect button” on the top right of the application and the device is ready for action.
The iScribe4U application comes with all the usual features such as the pen tool, eraser, and the ability to change the size and color of the pen.
On the advanced side, you have the ability to import the pdf textbook and write, annotate, or highlight specific sections of the pdf.
The software comes with a “math solver”. It converts your handwritten math notes into text format.
Record and play is another important feature that allows you to record your classes. Once recorded, you can send the video footage to your students for practice/ future reference.
You can also reuse the recorded classes for revision purposes.
While writing – once the paper fills up, you can attach another paper to the notepad. Next, on the software side you click the add new page button for a new canvas.
The application has handy buttons to switch between previous and next pages.
The iScribe writing pad is sensitive enough to be used with multiple A4 papers (say 3 or 4) stacked on top of each other. Once the page gets filled simply remove the page and write on the next one.
Once the class is over – exporting the notes is fairly simple. Just click on the Export PDF button located on the left-hand side, give it a name and your notes will be saved.
You can also import your previous lectures to revise.
Buttons on the notepad
If you notice closely, on the top left corner of the pad, you will find the power button and two other buttons with arrows.
The arrow buttons allow you to switch between your previous and next pages on the screen.
It is important to note that – as of now these button does not seem to work on other third-party applications.
Easier file management
For easier access, the iScribe application has a very handy navigator built inside the app. It allows you to have a quick glance and access your notes from previous classes.
For more in-depth information check out the official Quick-start guide.
What other applications does the iScribe A4 writing pad support?
Other than the iScribe4U application, we tested the writing pad with other online and offline digital whiteboards such as Openboard and Miro board.
We also tested iScribe with Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, and affinity photo and designer. Although the pressure sensitivity was missing the writing pad itself worked on every single one of these above-mentioned applications.
Stylus – Features and Build quality
A stylus is an important part of any pen-based device. The included D1 active stylus is one of the highlights of this device. It is a very capable writing tool.
It comes with a 500mAh of battery capacity, allowing you to write continuously for 20 hours. When used daily, the pen can last for around three to six days depending upon your usage.
The pen takes about 3.5 hours to get fully charged. For charging, you need to connect the include USB cable to the USB port located at the back of the stylus.
Talking of writing on paper, the stylus supports a standard mini ball pen refill, which is easily available in the market at cheap prices.
The box comes with 4 extra nibs in the box plus one preinstalled inside the stylus. A single nib can last up to a month.
Once the nib is over, you can simply swap it with another one with the help of the included nib remover tool.
How good is the quality of the handwritten digital notes?
Probably one of the best things about the iScribe is the quality of the handwritten notes. Everything that you write or drawing on the paper shows up exactly on the screen with no irregularities or artifacts.
The pen tracking is very reliable. As a teacher will have no complaint whatsoever with the overall tracking or responsiveness of this digital notepad.
What is the length of the included cable?
The included USB cable is 120cm in length and has a micro-USB connector on one end and a USB-A connector on the other.
Summary: Should you get the iScribe A4 as a teacher
For someone only using a mouse and a keyboard for online teaching, the iScribe digital notepad is a much-needed upgrade.
Since it is a beginner-friendly device, you will feel right at home from the very beginning.
Along with that ease of use comes the powerful software tools that make it a very capable teaching or note-taking device.
During our testing, we were greatly impressed by its tracking capabilities, there are only a few digital notepads (especially at this price point) that can match the accuracy of iScribe.
Talking of things that can be improved, even though the iScribe4U software application comes with some powerful tools, it still needs some UI (user interface) overhaul for a more modern look.
When we asked iTeltronics, they assured us they are working on it and about to release a major update.
In our opinion, this is not that big of a deal – as you still have a number of amazing third-party whiteboard applications that you can use with this tablet.
Considering everything that we have discussed so far, If you want a true digital whiteboard replacement that gives you a natural writing experience, the ability to record, save and share notes, and much more – iScribe digital notepad is surely the right teaching tool for you.
Other variants and Where to buy?
iScribe is available in two sizes/variants…