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  1. Thread Author  Thread Author    #1  
    StuartV's Avatar
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    Default Taking notes

    I have been looking for a tablet that I can use for taking handwritten notes with for about a year. I want it to do these things:

    - let me write with a stylus on something that looks like a piece of paper.
    - not get confused by my palm resting on the screen while I'm writing.
    - be able to see and write on the whole page at one time
    - saved notes automatically show up as notes in Evernote, which I could continue to edit there. And have my edited notes show up back up on my tablet. I.e. full, 2-way syncing/integration.
    - be able to search my handwritten notes for text that I hand wrote.
    - file my notes in notebooks with sub-notebooks.

    Prior to this new Note 10.1, there was nothing out there that I have found that would really do what I want - except the HTC Jetstream, which was too expensive and too buggy for me to ever buy. But, its note-taking and Evernote integration was (and still is, I think) the Gold Standard.

    So far, on my new Note 10.1, I have tried (note: all apps listed below support hardware-based palm rejection, so you can set them to only accept input from the S-Pen. No accidental drawing from resting your palm on the screen.):

    - S-Note
    - Quill
    - Lecture Notes
    - Papyrus Beta
    - Soonr Scribble
    - Writepad Stylus (by Signal)
    - TabNotes (no hardware-based palm rejection)
    - PenSupremacy (no hardware-based palm rejection)

    Lecture Notes

    Lecture Notes is nice, but, when I export a multi-page note to Evernote, it creates a note in Evernote with a .ZIP file attachment, which I am unable to do anything with. If anybody knows a way to do something differently, so that multi-page notes export to Evernote in a useful fashion, please tell me. When I export a single page note, it seems to work fine. If I could figure out how to do multiple pages together, I would go back and spend more time evaluating LN.

    Update: I have now found that LN can export to EN like I need. If you do a Share (on a multi-page note) and then choose Evernote, it creates the ZIP file. But, if you open a note in LN and then go to the menu and choose Export to Evernote, it will export a multi-page note to the default notebook in Evernote, where each page is a separate PNG file in the Evernote note. So, it's a one-click affair just like Quill.

    I think I'm going to ante up the $3.74 for the paid version of this app.

    Update 2:

    LN lets you create folders and put notebooks under them. That's really nice and my biggest knock against Quill (because Quill doesn't have that).

    LN also has several features that are disabled by default. To enable them, all you have to do is go into Settings and find Menu (I think) and then uncheck the boxes that say "Hide XYZ Feature". Then the icons for those features will appear on the toolbar for you to use. I think the reason they are turned off by default is because if you turn them all on, they take up so much room on the toolbar that you end up losing some off the side of the screen. And different ones make sense depending on whether you're using the software on a digitizing tablet or not. Anyway...

    One of the features that is pretty darn cool is layering. By default, you don't have access, but once you turn on the Layers icon, you can add layers, delete layers, merge layers, and exchange layers. This is essential if you're going to do something like annotate a photo and want to be able to edit your annotation. If you do it all on one layer, when you try to erase your annotation, you'll erase part of the photo that's "under" it, too. But, if you put the photo on one layer, then annotate on a different layer, you can come back later and erase just the annotation.

    One interesting thing that is missing from LN is the ability to enter typed text. It seems like that ability could possibly come in handy occasionally. S-Note will let you do it, of course. I will see, going forward, if I miss not having that ability in LN.

    Quill

    Quill is very good. I actually bought this app almost a year ago when I was trying out the original Transformer and the Galaxy Tab 10.1. The dev had bought a Lenovo Thinkpad Touch and did an amazing job of whipping this app up from scratch to use on the TPT. It was not useful on the TF and GTab because of their lack of a digitizing stylus. But, now, a year later, the app has improved quite a bit and works really well with the Note. My only nit, so far, with Quill is that, when you add a page to a note, then go back and view the notebook, it displays the pages in order of newest first. I think it would be better to display them in the order they were created.

    Quill seems (so far) to have the best feature set for exporting notes. You can export them in vector graphics format, so that they look good and clean no matter how big you resize them. And you have control over what the background is or whether it is even included in the export. This is very handy if you're planning to print the note. Printing a note that has any kind of colored background means a huge waste of ink.

    Quill makes it very easy to send a multi-page note to Evernote. You just go out to the Notebook level and tap Share to Evernote. One-click and you're done. But, the downside is that it goes to your Default Evernote notebook. No chance to tell it where to send it or configure Quill to send to a different destination.

    S-Note

    S-Note seems to be the best for actually writing notes. The handwriting-to-text feature is cool and seems to be very accurate for me. But, overall using that feature is still a bit clunky. For example, if you write a bit, then stop, it inserts the text. Then if you write some more, it inserts the new text right after the previous text, with no space. You can tap the button at the top to insert a space, but that is WAY klunky. Also, there's no way to resize the page to smaller than the screen - and when you're using handwriting-to-text, it always puts a toolbar across the top. The result is that you simply cannot see the top part of the note 'paper' that you are writing on. I've had text get translated and put at the top where I couldn't see it and I thought the program just didn't understand my writing, so threw it away. There are other occasions where the toolbar at the top covers the note 'paper', too. Overall, that makes using S-Note so clunky for serious use that I may just go back to spend more time with Quill.

    Also, in S-Note, the feature for shape matching is pretty cool. I am a software developer (not currently for Android, though ), so a lot of times the notes I take involve drawing examples of screens. The shape matching thing could be really cool for that. However, the Clunk Factor comes back into play here. To be REALLY useful, it would need to make it a LOT quicker/easier to draw a rectangle, then write some text, then draw a small circle (for a radio button), then write some text next to it, etc.. Right now, switching from drawing shapes to writing text and back takes too many clicks/taps.

    Also, in S-Note, I can't figure out how to make the stylus button do anything. If I press and hold it, the stylus stops doing anything. I want to make it switch to eraser mode when I'm holding the button down. Or be configurable, so I can switch between regular drawing and the shape drawing tool, for example.

    Also, in S-Note, I can print (or export), but I can't seem to do so without including the background. I did a note with the Meeting template. When I print it, it has a lightly colored background, which wastes my printer ink, for no good reason. Also, I have a suspicion that the colored background makes the Evernote handwriting text recognition not work as well. Evernote seems to find handwritten words in my notes export from Lecture Notes or Quill much more reliably than it does with words written in S-Note exports.

    Papyrus

    Papyrus seems really nice. The ability to write a multi-page note is very well-implemented (regarding convenience). It doesn't have the problems like S-Note of having toolbars displayed on top of the "paper" blocking your view of part of what you're doing. It has nice gesture support. You can just use your fingertip to erase. You can configure what the stylus button does. By default it puts you in Select mode for grabbing part of what's on the screen to move/cut/copy. The Share to Evernote works nicely EXCEPT that it only appears to work by exporting as a PDF. The PDF shows up nicely in Evernote. But, so far, my testing cannot get the Evernote search of handwriting to match anything in the PDF that comes from Papyrus. In fact, it seems as though the Evernote searching of handwriting only works for writing in a PNG file. Handwriting embedded in a PDF does not seem to get recognized by Evernote.

    Sooner Scribble

    Scribble seems to be really focused on use for marking up existing documents. It is not really oriented towards creating your own handwritten notes from scratch. And you have to create a (free) online account with them to use it. Once I made those determinations, I didn't really spend any more time on it. I do note that it does do palm rejection, so when you're using it, it only takes input from the stylus.

    Writepad Stylus

    Writepad looked promising. But, the first thing I did was write a 2-page note and export it to Evernote. It goes across as a ZIP file attached to the note, which is useless in Evernote. You can do Share Page to send just one page at a time over to Evernote and it comes across as a PNG file and, thus, you can use Evernote to search it based on handwriting recognition. But, with no option to do the same with multi-page notes, I quit looking further.

    TabNotes

    TabNotes does not support hardware-based palm rejection. But, I am including it here just because it is a paid app, which I bought almost a year ago (I've been on a quest for a tablet that I can use to take handwritten notes for a WHILE ) and I did try it out on my Note.

    Since TabNotes doesn't do hardware-based palm rejection, it takes a completely different tack in allowing you to hand write notes. It shows a small panel at the bottom of the screen that is a window onto the larger piece of "paper", which is shown in the rest (top) of the screen. You write in the window at the bottom and your strokes are mirrored in the top part. It's a neat idea and not a bad way to deal with handwriting on a non-digitizing screen. But, ultimately, not what I want - or likely what any Note owner wants. So I dusted off the app, ran it for a minute, and now I'm done with it.

    PenSupremacy

    This is another paid app that I bought almost a year ago. So, again, I tried it and have included it in this list just for the sake of completeness (i.e. so you other Note owners don't waste your money on it).

    This is the Android version of the PenUltimate app for iPad, which is one of the top note-taking apps for iPad. As you can probably guess, though, that means it is setup for use on tablets with no digitizer. As far as I can tell, it does not have any support for enabling hardware-based palm rejection. And thus ended my review of that app.

    Summary

    Unfortunately, none of these apps export (or Share) notes in Evernote's native format. That would be ideal. So you could open the note in Evernote and actually edit the content, not just see it in Evernote as a JPG or PNG or PDF. But, what is there is definitely more than usable for taking handwritten notes - and getting them out to an app (e.g. Evernote) that will let me keep my notes organized and find ones that I'm looking for later.

    Overall, the Note 10.1 seems to be the first "keeper" tablet for taking notes with.

    Finally, I know there are other note-taking apps out there. If any of you can post reviews of them, maybe we can turn this thread into a sticky and develop a useful source of info for future note-taking wannabees.
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  2. #2  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    Well, You've certainly covered a lot. One suggestion is to try the handwriting to text in a polaris office document. I was using that today and it worked quite well with printing. If you pause just for a split second it inserts a space all on it's own. As the blue text would disappear, I'd just keep printing by hand and it kept up with me very well. My handwriting actually got a bit sloppy as I sped up but I noticed just a few letters that were wrong, certainly less errors than when I try to type at a decent speed on the electronic keyboard! Using Polaris will let you print a document of length with a white background. I also wised for a way to use the switch as an eraser and a helpful person on here steered me to Papyrus. You can set the button to be an eraser with that but you lose some of the other features of S note. I read in a review today that overseas, their S pen has that feature. Turn it over and you can make the S pen erase. If you happen to find any of those for sale, please let me know!

    Also, just fyi for your search for the perfect writing app, I've read in several of the detailed reviewers that only the S notes has the way to turn on the hand recognition so you don't accidentally add marks when your hand touches the screen when writing. They said there is no such wonderful feature in the photo retouching app or Polaris. If you find a way to sync notes between devices please let me know. I use my Note 5.3 a lot for writing notes and now with the tablet, I'd love to be able to keep the same copy of them on both devices. I tried dropbox and when I reloaded my note onto the original device from there, it said there wasn't an app to open it! lol Please post on here if you find a solution to syncing!
  3. #3  
    DAS
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    @ J HighNote: You can sync notes between devices using wifi direct.

    It works great going from the 5.3 to the 10.1, but for some odd reason when you try going from the tablet to the phone it doesn't work all the time and when it doesn't I get an error message that says something like "no application installed to open document."

    It's weird because both devices do have the S-Note app?

    I've been most successful syncing from tablet to phone using wifi direct and turning the S-Note document into a pdf. It will sync every time using this method. But if you're going from phone to tablet you'll have no problem at all.

    Galaxy Note! Phone. Tablet. Planner. Notepad. eReader. The only device I need!
  4. Thread Author  Thread Author    #4  
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    Default Re: Taking notes

    DAS, I think he's talking about automatic syncing. Doing what you're talking about still falls into the manual syncing category.

    For the record, Quill also has the option to specifically turn off all input by the pen, so no palm writing issues there. As does Lecture Notes.

    Looking for Papyrus, I found 2. I believe the one you (J HighNote) are talking about is Papyrus Beta, by Steadfast Innovation. I'm installing that now to give it a try. I note (ha ha) that the description for it says that it got "Category Honorable Mention" for productivity in the Samsung Galaxy Note S Pen App Challenge.

    The suggestion about using Polaris is a good one. But, if it doesn't have hardware-based palm rejection, it's definitely not going to work. Also, I suspect it may not be so easy to use it to edit notes that include drawings (say, of example screens). That will also take it out of the running for my use.

    Oh, and last, J HighNote, for the note files from Dropbox that you couldn't open, you might try using a file manage to move them into the S-Note folder and then just open S-Note to confirm that they show up and you can open them. If so, you could even try configuring DropBox on your phone and tablet to both use the S-Note folder as the syncing location for DropBox files. If that works, then any note you save on one should show up on the other automatically and virtually immediately (as long as your tablet has a WiFi connection).
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  5. Thread Author  Thread Author    #5  
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    Default Re: Taking notes

    I just updated my above info. I tried out Papyrus. Also, determined that Evernote only does writing recognition if the note contains a PNG (versus a PDF).
  6. #6  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    Stuart, try the link in the thread: Another Note 10.1 Review-Check It Out!!! posted by
    jcp006

    It's a youtube video by an amateur, and while there's a strong accent, and it's a bit slow moving at times, it's rather nice that it's not rehearsed and he goes slow enough you can tell just how he's going through the process. I thought of your post about half way through the video. He shows how formulas are done, how text can be added, and most impressive, the darn thing figures out the calculations. Is this an amazing tablet or what! At some part, he also shows how it does the geometric shape conversion from handwriting to nice straight lines and perfect shapes- he'd draw a wavy line and it would zap it straight, works with boxes, and other shapes too. I don't remember what time frame that was in the video though. You might want to check it out.
  7. Thread Author  Thread Author    #7  
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    Default Re: Taking notes

    I added some more apps that I looked at.
  8. #8  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    So after all ypur testing did you settle on a favorite? And if so what is/ was the desiding factor. Keep us updated. It seems like you hold them to a higher standard than i would, so if it's good enough for you I'm sure I'll like it.
  9. Thread Author  Thread Author    #9  
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    Default Re: Taking notes

    Right now, it's down to Lecture Notes and S-Note.

    I've been playing with LN more this afternoon, since I found that I can export to Evernote in PNG format. LN has some very nice capabilities for folders, which Quill does not have. Not sure about S-Note yet. I will update my OP with more on LN.

    S-Note got updated my this week's OTA, so I need to go back and do a full run-through of it again, since I know some things in it changed.
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  10. #10  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    Has anyone tried the app, "pen supremacy" . It was recommended to my wife for her 7"tab before we got the GN 10.1. Not sure how it works with the pen, and it doesn't offer a trial.
  11. Thread Author  Thread Author    #11  
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    Default Re: Taking notes

    I have PenSupremacy. I wrote a bit about it above. If you have specific questions, let me know.

    Also, and I say this to everybody, think about how much Android apps cost. $1? $2? $5?

    They are so incredibly cheap! Less than the cost of 1 beer (most places ). Let's support the developers who are writing these great apps. If you're looking at an app and it looks like it might be useful to you, consider how much your time is worth. If you can spend $5 and 10 minutes trying it out for yourself, versus 2 hours researching it on the Internet, to save yourself the $5, isn't it worth it to just spend the $5?

    Plus, I believe Google has relaxed the refund policy. It used to be 15 minutes to try an app. I think you get longer now. But, even 15 minutes should be enough for a lot of apps. So, buy it! Try it! Keep it or get a refund.

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  12. #12  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    Can the notes be saved in Word format in Polaris Office?
  13. #13  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    Quote Originally Posted by jcp006 View Post
    Can the notes be saved in Word format in Polaris Office?
    Yes, I was so used to using Quick Office, this gave me the excuse to check it out. I sent a word document to my tablet via email and it opened fine. Then I added it to it and sent it back to desk top and it opened just fine. All compatible. Hurray!
  14. #14  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    To make a forward space in S note or Polaris, give your stylus a quick dash to the right. A quick dash to the left is backspace. When you pause in your writing, a dash forward adds the space between words.

    How can we reduce the size of the Predictive text? I've noticed that when it generates the text, it overwrites the new text I'm writing.
  15. #15  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    Re: S-Note page color. You can change the background color from the menu bar. I looked a long time for a way to change the page color.
  16. #16  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    Currently waiting for my Note 10.1 to arrive. I will replace my Galaxy 10.1 just because I want to take notes with the pen, and preferably integrate them with Evernote, so this thread is very useful. Thank you StuartV!

    Regarding Evernote recognition of handwriting in PDF, I had the impression that it works if you have a premium Evernote account - at least it says "PDF search" in the linked description of Premium services.
  17. #17  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    stuartv, found this on youtube I dont know if youve tried this,thought you might be interested.

    S-Note seems to be the best for actually writing notes. The handwriting-to-text feature is cool and seems to be very accurate for me. But, overall using that feature is still a bit clunky. For example, if you write a bit, then stop, it inserts the text. Then if you write some more, it inserts the new text right after the previous text, with no space. You can tap the button at the top to insert a space, but that is WAY klunky. Also, there's no way to resize the page to smaller than the screen - and when you're using handwriting-to-text, it always puts a toolbar across the top. The result is that you simply cannot see the top part of the note 'paper' that you are writing on. I've had text get translated and put at the top where I couldn't see it and I thought the program just didn't understand my writing, so threw it away. There are other occasions where the toolbar at the top covers the note 'paper', too. Overall, that makes using S-Note so clunky for serious use that I may just go back to spend more time with Quill.

  18. #18  
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    Default Re: Taking notes

    I tried a couple of the note apps but really wanted Evernote's syncing feature. Being a wi-fi only tablet I wanted it to sync automatically when a signal was available. I use Evernote but with the Samsung keyboard switched to handwrite to text. It may not be as good with the recognition but syncs and organizes the way I need it to. I have Evernote sycned to all my devices and I only need 1 account.
  19. #19  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    Quote Originally Posted by 35fan View Post
    To make a forward space in S note or Polaris, give your stylus a quick dash to the right. A quick dash to the left is backspace. When you pause in your writing, a dash forward adds the space between words.

    How can we reduce the size of the Predictive text? I've noticed that when it generates the text, it overwrites the new text I'm writing.
    I tried what you said, but not sure what you mean by Dash Forward, because when I try the Write to Text feature in S Note, I can't get it to put a space between the words. I write a word and tried putting a dash forward (S Note puts a "-" in between the words), so not sure what you mean by "Dash Forward". I also tried what J Highnote said in her reply and tried pausing shortly after each word and tried a short pause and a long pause, it still puts the words together. I'm not sure how to get a space in between the words without actually hitting the space bar on the menu bar above, which takes away from writing the note.
    I do like just handwriting my notes, but since I have the Write to text feature, would like to try and get it to work for me. Anybody that can tell me what I'm doing wrong?
    Samsung Galaxy Note 4 32GB, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 32GB, Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 16GB
  20. #20  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    You may be using the wrong one. There are two ways to do handwriting to text one is in the productivity tab where you also find the shape matching and formula find buttons. In my opinion that one sucks, I had no luck writing in a normal manner with that one. The other way is to hit the text button that looks like a underlined T. It will pop up the keyboard then hit the option button. It is the bottom button second from the left. It will have a gear, a T with a pen, or a microphone depending on what was last selected. Pick the Twitch the pen and it opens the handwriting window at the bottom. Then the tips like using the forward dash will work but for the most part you can just write.
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  21. #21  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    I didn't know there were two ways to do it, so thanks for that tip. I was using the one that sucked. Lol. I didn't see the options key at the bottom left, because I was using the Swype beta keyboard. Once I switched back to the Samsung keyboard I was able to do it. I think I still need practice with the write to text. It sometimes spells the words wrong and doesn't always put a space between the words still.

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    Samsung Galaxy Note 4 32GB, Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 32GB, Samsung Galaxy Note 8.0 16GB
  22. #22  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    Your welcome . Hope it helps. It still isn't perfect, but with practice it has worked well enough, for me, that for longer writting I find it faster than typing. With that mode you can write over wrong letters or use the dash tricks. I think when you first use it there is a tutorial.
  23. Thread Author  Thread Author    #23  
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    Default Re: Taking notes

    Quote Originally Posted by WaldenWoods View Post
    Regarding Evernote recognition of handwriting in PDF, I had the impression that it works if you have a premium Evernote account - at least it says "PDF search" in the linked description of Premium services.
    All I can say is that I have Evernote Premium (and have had it for quite a while). Maybe the Premium PDF search means you can search based on text in the PDF (as opposed to handwriting). I believe that does work.
  24. #24  
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    Default Re: Taking notes

    I prefer using an Infinity Binder with my galaxy tab 2 7.0, then storing them all on google drive. (however if you use evernote then you can search your notes via the character recognition feature. which is nice.)
  25. #25  

    Default Re: Taking notes

    I am reading all this looking for some advice specifically for my new galaxy tab 2. I have the 10.1.
    I am confused about what to use. I am looking for a good stylus and an app that will work. can you suggest anything?
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