Product: Acecad DigiMemo A501 Price: US$99 Pros: Easy to use, stand-alone, uses paper and ink Cons: Proprietary file type. Adds little to existing offerings I was more excited about Acecad's DigiMemo A501 before I actually saw it than after, although it is a great little device. In short, the DigiMemo allows you to write with normal ink on to normal paper, and then save it to a digital file and upload it to a PC. At the heart of the DigiMemo is a clipboard, which looks quite ordinary. But beneath the paper is a kind of magnetic scanner. A special pen transmits electrical signals to the scanning bed below, capturing in digital format all that is being written in ink on the paper above. While the pen itself is specific to the DigiMemo, the ink comes in a standard cartridge. You can use any colour ink on the paper, but it makes no difference to the colour of the 'writing' being saved to the DigiMemo. The designers have tried to simulate the basic pen and paper environment, dividing work into files of one page each, then reproducing that on the screen. After uploading the files by USB to a PC, you can manipulate them like you would any graphic file. The built-in 8MB of flash memory can save 999 files, or 40 fully laden A5 sheets, while a Compact Flash slot expands the capacity further. A small, monochrome LCD display and four function buttons let you select which page to write on or erase. It sounds nice, and the DigiMemo does very well what it is designed to do. But similar devices have been tried in the past and most have proved a dismal failure. Among the problems I have with the DigiMemo is that it saves to Acecad's proprietary .dnd file format, which requires the DigiMemo software to read. Admittedly, the software is free to download, and allows you to convert to .jpeg, but that's just too many steps and is too troublesome. The other problem is that which also afflicts the Tablet PC, namely handwriting recognition. DigiMemo does not even attempt handwriting recognition. So, once you have handwritten something to 'digital paper', there's not much more you can do with it. Given DigiMemo's US$99 price tag, few users would find it a compelling buy. Industry professionals such as graphic artists already have a multitude of wired writing tablets to choose from; the paper and PC-free nature of this one probably doesn't add much more. That said, this incarnation of DigiMemo could best be viewed as a concept product, with later generations being tweaked for specific niche applications. In the meantime, it goes in the 'nice, but what would I use it for?' category.