Whitelines Link

03 Oct 2012

I reviewed the innovative Whitelines pads a couple of years back, and the inventive Swedes have a new product out that will appeal to anyone wanting to get their sketches and notes digitised quickly, called Whitelines Link.

Whitelines Link from Whitelines Paper on Vimeo.

The system consists of a special Whitelines Link pad, and a free iPhone app from the App Store. The pad has the usual Whitelines white grid pattern, but with shapes in each corner to help the app to gauge the perspective and light conditions. The bottom of the pad has 3 options – Email, Evernote and Dropbox, and ticking/marking these will let the app know where you want the scan to go. If the light is low, there is a button for turning in the flash as a lamp.

Once your note or sketch is ready to go, you simply point the iPhone at the page – no need to press anything. When the app has detected the bounds of the pad, it does the rest. When you first use the Dropbox and Evernote options, it will ask you to authenticate those services, but thereafter you barely need to press anything. The Dropbox option is particularly appealing, as it’s very fast (Evernote’s fastest sync time is every 5 minutes).

Here’s an amateurish video I made of the process:

Testing the Whitelines Link Pad from Jon Hicks on Vimeo.

If I hadn’t marked the email box, it would’ve been more impressive, as the Evernote and Dropbox uploads happen automatically. Obviously the app asks for an email address when ticking the email option. Here’s the final output of that sketch:

I did a few tests, with pencil and pen to see how well it works, and the results were great. They recommend using an iPhone 4S or above for best results, but I’m more than happy with the output provided by my iPhone 4. The only caveats I discovered were that while it didn’t need strong bright light, elements like shadows can be picked up, or in the case of a bent page corner, prevent the app from detecting the pad bounds.

Other than that it worked so well I laughed with joy! This is particularly useful for scanning in sketches to work on top of in Illustrator, or sending a client quick sketches. Of course, once a sketch is in Evernote, the text (depending on the quality of the handwriting… ahem) becomes searchable as well.

It’s release has coincided with the Moleskine Smart Notebook, and its obvious that the two ideas were being developed simultaneously. However, the Smart Notebook is designed to work only with Evernote, whereas Whitelines Link provides email and DropBox options along with Evernote integration. The Moleskine looks sturdier as a notebook, but the wiro-bound Whitelines Link Pads are easier to get flat.

Whitelines have told me that if there is enough interest in Link, then an Android version would be developed as well, which would be excellent. I’m not sure when the pads will be available in the UK, but Whitelines provide free downloadable sheets for you to try on their Link page. Then if you like it, then obviously buying a pad will be more economical.

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