I ordered a Boogie Board tablet (pictured above) for sketching after reading about how it was a pressure sensitive display that never needed to be charged, ran off of a watch battery, and lasts for 5+ years. As you can see from the scan of my actual Boogie Board above, the “ink” is much darker than is indicated by all the bogus marketing materials on the Boogie Board site, where it appears as a bright sort of green. I’ve created a Flickr set, titled Boogie Board sucks that you can click through if you want to see more.
So as you can tell so far, the Boogie Board wasn’t what I was expecting, for numerous reasons. First, the ink is so dark as to be illegible in certain lighting situations. Then if you’re in a very bright lighting situation, it’s also illegible because the matte finish is oddly reflective and diffuses the light across the surface of the screen, somewhat obscuring whatever you’ve drawn or written.
The second problem is that while the Boogie Board is pressure sensitive, it is overly so. If you hold the board with your thumb on the screen, it will leave a thumb print. This means that the Boogie Board is not very portable. Throwing the device in your bag means that it comes out with all sorts of extra marks on it, so forget about writing notes on it and then transporting those notes anywhere. This also means that making thin, delicate lines is virtually impossible. The slightest pressure from any pen-like input device, like the included stylus, results in very thick line. If you bear down, the line gets even thicker, but thick to thicker lines doesn’t a good pressure sensitive display make. The thickness of those lines in turn makes the Kindle-sized (about as big as half a sheet of standard paper) screen on the Boogie Board too small to draw much beyond very basic cartoonish doodles. It also severely limits the amount of notes you could take on the device (even if you had some special protective case for it).
The Boogie Board comes with a small cloth to keep the screen clean and a stylus that feels poorly made and has no means of attaching to the Boogie Board, so you’re sure to lose it quickly enough (and again, underscoring that this device isn’t really designed for portability).
This gadget is an adequate replacement for a refrigerator white board to write short notes like “Call Janet” or “Buy milk” but really that’s about it. And even at that function, the screen is smaller than one would ideally need. It’s sized as something where you can write in the equivalent of a small 10 or 12 point font, but the thickness of the lines result in most writing needing to be closer to a 24 point font to be legible and not be all smooshed together. I consider it a waste of $30 and I’d advise everyone to steer clear.
It’s not a digital Etch-a-Sketch (they have bigger screens and are actually capable of much more detail), but it’s much more akin to those crappy pressure sensitive pads that we had as kids, where you had a thin sheet of film over a black background and as you “drew” on the film it would stick to the black background and create drawings. Then lifting the film made the image disappear. What were those crappy things called? This is the modern version of those things.
UPDATE: After several more days of using the device, losing the stylus and replacing the stylus with a stylus from a Nintendo DS, I’m liking it a bit more for just basic doodling. It’s still not nearly as detailed as I’d like, has all the problems mentioned above, and is over-priced and misrepresented by its marketing, BUT I think if it were priced closer to $15 and represented more as what it actually is, I might actually *want* to buy one and not feel ripped off, like I currently do.