There are quite a few gadgets you could use for taking notes at a meeting.

I've seen quite a few Apple iPads lately, and the Microsoft Surface tablet is a common accoutrement at conference room tables.

However, I've tested out the Sony Digital Paper CP1 notepad for a few weeks, and come to the realization that it's incredibly handy to have a digital pad this light, long-lasting, and responsive. While it's expensive and doesn't support any other apps, it's ideal for serious note-takers who need to document their lives at work and beyond.

First, a few things I like best. It's super light, for one. At 8.5-ounces, you barely notice it in your hand, and that means you will be more likely to bring it along to a meeting. The iPad is not exactly heavy, but if you are going mobile all day at work, it's a bit more of a ball and chain. I liked how thin the CP1 is as well, about the width of a few sheets of paper.

The CP1 also lasts about three weeks on a charge, or even longer in my tests when I didn't bring it to every single meeting. (This rating also depends on whether you keep Wi-Fi turned on.) The device is meant for serious note-taking, not for any games or apps. When you jot down all of your notes, you can connect up physically with a USB cable and sync the notes or use Wi-Fi. I preferred to connect up instead which worked faster.

Another handy feature has to do with the stylus. I hate how the Apple Pencil snaps onto the side of the latest iPad Pro. It's easy to lose. If you add an iPad case, you add extra bulk, even if that means you now have a way to slip the pencil into place. The CP1 uses a thin case with a loop for holding the stylus, and it stayed firmly in place. In my weeks of testing, I never misplaced the stylus, it was always right there in the loop ready to use.

That's part of what makes the CP1 so interesting to me as a replacement for pen and paper. It feels like an actual notepad. When you write notes, you rarely will make errant markings. My notes on the CP1 look exactly like my notes on a paper journal, except they are digital. I've tried many other digital notepads as well, some from companies that are now defunct, and none of them worked quite this well for taking notes.

None of them cost this much, either. The CP1 measures 10.3-inches and costs $600. There's a larger 13.3-inch version that costs $700. (I prefer the smaller, cheaper model.) Meanwhile, an iPad costs $230 at Best Buy right now, and that's with 32GB of storage, a color screen, and the ability to play any game, check your email, and browse the web.

It almost seems like no contest--the iPad is better device in every way.

The question is whether it's a better journal.

I'd argue that it isn't. The battery life isn't nearly as long, and it's bulkier and heavier. I own an iPad, and I never picked it for meeting notes over the CP1 due to all of the reasons I mentioned above. If the goal is to take digital notes, the CP1 works best.

That's been a trend I've noticed with gadgets--suitability to task sometimes trumps all-purpose features. A hammer works best for pounding nails. It might be smarter to buy a tool that can do more than pound nails, and even costs about the same. However, I prefer a gadget that is exceptional at the task at hand.

It means less effort and more productivity.

Published on: Feb 19, 2019
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