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First look: Boogie Board Jot 8.5 eWriter, an iOS-connected writing tablet

Boogie Board on Thursday announced a new version of their popular writing tablet, and for the first time, announced an accompanying iOS app that allows users to quickly sync their notes with their iPhone's camera.

The Boogie Board is a very thin pad, a little larger than an iPad mini, but much lighter, that you write on. That's it. It's for writing.

The product is good for occasions where it's impolite to type on a laptop or iPhone, like during a meeting. There are also times where it's easier to leave notes up for people, like the chalkboard in the kitchen.

It has a button to erase all the written text, and it leaves no trace of what had been written. If that's all Boogie Board was, it would be a better chalkboard or noteboard. But now, there's an app.

The app is simple: It uses the user's camera and photo library. You snap a picture of the board on a high-contrast background and it turns it into a black and white photo, instead of the green-text-on-black-writing-surface of the tablet.

You can then add to the picture by drawing on the screen. In our experience, this worked well for writing out a shopping list on the tablet and then crossing items on the list out on the phone. You don't have to carry the device with you if you've used the app to capture the important content.

The camera and photo library functions work well. The app is set to capture the Jot on launch, and you can specify whether you want it to automatically find it and capture the picture or manually do it. Automatically capturing pages worked without issues in our experience. Drawing on an image can either be done in black or yellow, simulating a highlighter.

As for the tablet, it's light and thin. The stylus snaps into a slot at the bottom and the erase button is at the top of the page.

The width of the line you write on the tablet is pretty heavy, as far as line widths go. This is no extra fine pen. The result is that a user can't fit a lot of notes or text on one page, and similarly can't fit a lot into the screen of the iPhone app.

That means the Jot doesn't replace a legal pad, but we don't think it's intended to, especially if you can quickly capture it with the app, erase, and start writing a new page. The only awkward thing about using it in a meeting would be the continued reaching for the phone to capture a page. As quickly as it works, that might not be inconspicuous.

The goal seems to be fidelity of what was written, but less emphasis on the quality of a pretty pen line.

That just comes down to being part of the LCD technology, and is easily overcome by using a couple of photos rather than just one.

On the upside, the screen is 50 percent brighter than previous models, and was plenty bright in our experience.

It's based on LCD technology, with a user-replaceable battery that's estimated to last for 7 years. It also conveniently comes with two magnets on the back so that it can be placed on a refrigerator or other metal surface.

Magnets. How do they work?
Magnets. How do they work?
So very thin.
So very thin.

The Boogie Board Jot 8.5 eWriter will be available in three colors — blue, pink and gray at the official site, as well as Amazon with Prime shipping, Costco, and other retailers across the U.S., starting at $24.99.