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The Perfect iPad Notes App?

One thing that everyone I meet that has an iPad wants to do is to sit in a meeting and take notes, almost the way they did it before. Me too! So I’ve been on a quest for the “perfect” notetaking app. I haven’t found one yet, but I’m getting closer to my desired app.

Here’s what I’m looking for:

  • able to input text by typing or handwriting
  • handwriting recognized
  • able to draw figures, arrows, etc. on the page
  • allow me to organize the files in folders
  • sync to a file repository in the cloud – either Dropbox, Evernote or Google Apps
  • able to freely write on the page and have the app know “hey, this is real text turn it from handwriting to text.”

I’ve narrowed my search down to a few but none is yet perfect.

  • NoteTaker HD
  • WritePad
  • PhatPad
  • Livescribe

NoteTaker HD NoteTaker HD

This does a great job of allowing me to take notes on the fly mixing handwriting and graphic annotations. This was the clear winner on speed.

able to input text by typing or handwriting Yes
handwriting recognized No
able to draw figures, arrows, etc. on the page Yes, plus some predefined shapes
allow me to organize the files in folders No
sync to a file repository in the cloud – either Dropbox, Evernote or Google Apps Can upload, but pretty clunky
able to freely write on the page and have the app know “hey, this is real text turn it from handwriting to text.” No

NoteTaker HD WritePad

Price: $9.99 on iTunes

This is best when I want to do handwriting to text. There is a bit of a distraction when watching the handwriting translate, but I suspect that will decrease over time. I’ve also noted the software seems to be getting trained to recognize my handwriting better….or maybe it’s training me.

able to input text by typing or handwriting Yes
handwriting recognized Yes
able to draw figures, arrows, etc. on the page No
allow me to organize the files in folders Yes
sync to a file repository in the cloud – either Dropbox, Evernote or Google Apps Great sync with DropBox – two way!
able to freely write on the page and have the app know “hey, this is real text turn it from handwriting to text.” No

NoteTaker HD PhatPad

Price: $7.99 on iTunes

I haven’t tried this as much, but it’s from the same folks as WritePad and does allow mixing of handwriting and text. This is the one I’ve currently pinned my hopes on. The question will be whether I can easily switch among modes.

able to input text by typing or handwriting Yes
handwriting recognized Yes
able to draw figures, arrows, etc. on the page Yes
allow me to organize the files in folders Yes
sync to a file repository in the cloud – either Dropbox, Evernote or Google Apps Great sync with DropBox – two way!
able to freely write on the page and have the app know “hey, this is real text turn it from handwriting to text.” Kind of. I can write a whole page and then select the text and have it turned into text. If you mix in graphics, they will get erased, though.

NoteTaker HD Livescribe Pen

Price: $99 and up in various configurations

This is not an iPad app but an actual pen and paper. The pen will capture your written notes as well as audio. You can play back any part of the audio by tapping on the associated notes you were taking on the paper or in the uploaded version on your computer.

able to input text by typing or handwriting No…it’s paper
handwriting recognized Kind of with the additional app, but in my experience it’s just not worth it.
able to draw figures, arrows, etc. on the page Yes
allow me to organize the files in folders No, they are organized by page in the notebooks.
sync to a file repository in the cloud – either Dropbox, Evernote or Google Apps Stays in the pen until you dock it for recharging. Gives you access in your online Livescribe account as well if you upload and allows you to sync with Evernote.
able to freely write on the page and have the app know “hey, this is real text turn it from handwriting to text.” Kind of. I can write a whole page and then select the text and have it turned into text. If you mix in graphics, they will get erased, though.