Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Using Fly Fusion by Leapfrog

My Fly Fusion is here!!!! Hurray!!!

OK, a bit fast intro, Leapfrog's Fly Fusion is a Pentop (Pen sized computer) combining the ability of note taking on the go with additional functionality of a computer.

In my job, I take notes, A LOT! And I have to remember where my notes are weeks, months, or even years later. Needless to say, I don't have time to transcribe most of them into a meeting minutes. So I am always in the lookup for something that will help me in this way.

My idea is, digitize AND OCR (actually "ICR") my handwritings drawings, etc. and let me search for them later when the need arises. I got the search down OK via X1 ( Now all I need to do is to digitize my notes.

In 2005, I have experimented with a tablet PC (IBM x41 tablet) While it is great and I can use the Microsoft Onenote to keep my notes, it is bulky and run out of batteries at the worst moments. Its weight and size make it not practical to carry to some meetings.

I tried notetaking with notepad. I can type faster than I can write, but I can't draw on notepad (not naturally, anyways) and having your laptop open and you looking at it during a meeting is not polite.

I was reviewing another solution (Pegasus Mobile Notetaker) when that one went out of business. So when the Fly Fusion shows up, I bought it in a second.

Ok, not in a second. I originally learn about the LightScribe pen that record audio while it records your writing from a youtube video. From then, I learn about the Anovo technology and finally that Leappad is selling the Fly Fusion based on that technology. And then there is the straw that breaks the camel's back. The PRICE... While all the other solutions are over $200 each. the Fly Fusion is only $79 (in fact, I got mine for $59 after shipping from So, when I got that quote from amazon. I click BUY immediately.

So, two weeks later (I have to ship mine to my mailbox which then forward it to me in Jakarta), I got my fly fusion.

First Impression -- COOL!! it WORKS!!!

The Fly Fusion WORKS. it allow me to put in my pocket something that will let me take my note and later put it in my computer in a search-able format. Awesome. I am not going into detail of its many features (mp3 player, calculator, and so on..) as there are sites that review those.

Its battery does last a long time. I have used it for a few hours and it writes just fine. I have never tried it long enough till it runs out of battery, though. Something I have to test in the future. The good news is that it recharges everytime you download the notepad to your computer via standard USB cable. And consequently it can be re-charged by my blackberry charger.

It draws admiring stares (and occasional sneers, but hey, you can't win them all) from peers.

Lastly, it recognize 80% of my handwriting. and I really have a bad handwriting. Once I slow down, it will recognize over 95% of my writing correctly. Should be good enough for searches.

Second Impression. -- It has some weaknesses...

The first is that it requires a special paper. The Anovo paper that comes with the box has only 24 sheets. (48 pages) and I take on the average 4 pages of notes per hour meeting. an additional 80 sheet notebook goes for $7. And the Anovo paper can't be printed using a laser printer, or at least I don't know how. Lastly, the Fly Fusion Notebook comes in Letter sized notebook. I carry around a B5 sized notebook. I basically have to cut up and rebound the notebook. (OK, I am a bit anal in what I like)

The Pen + the special notebook becomes a big "footprint". I can easily carry the pen anywhere, but today, I forgot to carry the notebook for a meeting. So... no notes. The pen itself is pretty bulky. Easily the size of 4-5 regular pen tied together with a rubber band.

The Fly Fusion is a PENTOP!!! OK, that's supposed to be good with all the bells and whistles, but when your pen loudly announces "unrecognized Flycon, please try drawing farther away from the Flycon" for the third time in a meeting, it gets annoying. I am NOT trying to use a Flycon (Fly Fusion special handwritten menu that let you play mp3 on the fly) I am simply trying to take notes.

LASTLY and by far my biggest pet peeves, is that it can save as image, as text, BUT NOT AS BOTH. By this I mean OCR-enabled PDF. I need the image for its ability to save my drawings. I do sketches as I take notes. I need the OCR so my X1 can search for its content. So I need both to really take full advantage of this. For now, I do a work around by saving the notes into word documents and tacking the images of the notes in the first few pages. So at least X1 will pull the right document.

Well, that's all the time I have to write for now. I'll add more blogs later.

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