Review: Xpaper eases digitizing of paper documents

October 1, 2008 7:04:58 PM PDT
Promises of the paperless office have been circulating ever since the first IBM clones started showing up on desks in the early 1980s. Yet we're still tied to printed documents and there's no sign that's going to change. With that in mind, the Xpaper PDF digital writing system from Talario Inc. ($400 for use with Windows XP, $450 for Vista) is designed to improve a computer's relationship with the paper document.

Here's how it works.

Typically, real-estate agents, salespeople, contractors, doctors or lawyers might sign a paper document and then scan it to put a digital version in a computer. That is slow. With the Xpaper system, you can simply print out a document and use the digital pen to sign the sheet. When you dock the pen with a computer, the image of the signature joins the document, which is ready to be saved, faxed or e-mailed to anyone needing a copy.

When Xpaper first debuted more than two years ago it had a limitation found in other digital pens: It required specially encoded paper. Having to keep track of the sheets' code numbers and load them properly into a printer tray proved cumbersome. This new, more efficient version allows users to produce encoded copies of any document with their own printers and scribble in a signature, initials or other handwritten notes using an included Logitech pen that's part digital, part ballpoint.

Each page printed as an Xpaper consists of a precisely printed pattern of dots that act like a GPS coordinate system. No two pages are alike, so the electronic pen's sensor instantly recognizes which page it's writing on and its exact location on that page.

The software package includes 150 digital ink credits; you're docked one credit for each Xpaper page that's written on and loaded into a computer. Additional digital ink credits, which pay for the encoding technology that Talario licenses from Swedish company Anoto, can be bought online for 10 cents per page. A credit is deducted only after a document is written on and the pen is docked, so a 12-page contract could be printed with the Xpaper pattern but only the signed page would cost a dime.

Setup involves some CD software installation and plugging the pen's docking cradle into the computer's USB port, which begins charging the device. (Talario recommends a Bluetooth wireless version for Vista because of issues with drivers, the programs that connect devices to an operating system.)

When I first looked at this product in 2006, I was amazed at how well it worked and thought it could transform paper-intensive offices in real estate, financial services, medicine and law firms. Now that Talario has eliminated the need for loading special paper, more offices should give this innovative product a try.

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On the Net:

http://www.talario.com


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