Digital drawing tablets, despite their best efforts, have always felt different from the real thing. For many artists, note-takers, or expert doodlers, nothing beats the feeling of putting actual pen to actual paper.

But now, thanks to iSketchnote, you can write on a real piece of paper using a real pen, while still digitizing it in real-time on a tablet or PC as you draw.

iSketchnote started as a Kickstarter project by the French group ISKN in September 2013, and it quickly exceeded its modest $35,000 goal by hitting $350,000. Now, a little over a year later, it’s finally being released to the public as an alternative digital-drawing tablet. In fact it’s not even a tablet at all; it’s just a “slate” and a pen. You can put any kind of paper that you want on top of the slate, write away with the special pen, and watch your writing or drawing get turned into a digital version in real-time via Bluetooth or USB to your tablet or PC.

Here’s a video showing everything in action. Keep in mind that this is not a digital drawing tablet – it’s just a plain piece of paper being written on with iSketchnote’s ink pen:

That’s pretty amazing, but what’s even more impressive is that the pen has no batteries or other digital components to it. It works by using a magnet, as explained by this helpful graphic from iSketchnote’s kickstarter:

▼ Didn’t Jumanji work with magnets too? We all know how that worked out….

magnet biggeKickstarter (ISKN Team)

The paper you use on top of the slate doesn’t even have to be normal paper either. It can be a notebook, sketch pad, used napkin, anything. Then once you have the digital version of your drawing on-screen, you can alter it however you’d like, similar to other writing tablets. If you make a mistake you can just undo instead of erasing, and you can also move things around, change sizes, add color, whatever.

Here’s a video showing how the final drawing on paper and final digital drawing can end up different from each other:

If you’re not sold yet, then how about this: the iSketchnote can also be used in stand-alone mode, so you can scan your drawings to the internal memory or an SD card even if you don’t have your tablet or PC handy. Also, its battery lasts 10 hours while in constant use. Also it only weights 14.1 ounces (400 grams) and is only 0.35 inches thick (9 millimeters). Also is comes in four lovely colors: orange, green, blue, and pink.


Actually, there isn’t any more. But I think that’s more than enough! If the iSketchnote sounds like something you’re interested in, it’s available for pre-order now for US$179 ($20 off the normal price). Right now it’s only compatible with the iPad, but they will be releasing free Windows, OSX, and Android updates soon.

Source: Hachima kikou, ISKN
Featured/top image: Twitter (@deantak)