NoteSlate: a minimalist, lightweight, great looking digital notepad

Noteslate looks like it’s going to be an exquisitely designed, cheap digital memo pad/notebook, and at $99 might appeal to a bunch of people that might not otherwise be in the market. It’s a minimalist e-ink A4 slate that does one thing, and does it really beautifully – captures and displays your notes, scribbles and sketches.

Keeping things simple (and apparently open source), the NoteSlate folks throw out the ability to surf the web, listen to your tunes, and everything else in favour of doing one thing and doing it well. I actually find that appealing, its tantamount to the WriteRoom, iA Writer, or (closest) 37S Draft way of doing things.

And while ostensibly it’s the bastard love child of an Etch-a-sketch, Kindle and legal pad, there’s something Teenage Engineering-esque about the industrial design — minimal, spare, functional, but in that understated Dieter Ramsian way. It actually makes my iPad look a bit chubby and oldschool, while at the same time triggering latent memories of whiteboards, blackboards and the simple tactile pleasures of paper.

Admittedly, I’m one of those people from the alternate dimension where people use tablet pcs – there’s something entirely different about interfacing with ideas with a pen rather than through a mouse, finger or trackpad, at least at the ideas stage. I use a Thinkpad x201 tablet for a laptop, have a Cintiq 21 for my desktop/mac, and read and watch a bunch of stuff on my iPad, but NoteSlate falls into a different niche for me and will likely appeal to people that aren’t compulsive about this stuff.

Great as iPad is for consuming content, I’ve never really found drawing (let alone writing) with my finger an optimal experience. The sausage stylus suggests I’m not alone. On the other hand, lightweight as it is for a laptop, my ThinkPad is no featherweight, and just getting to my notes means delving into the distractions and processing cycles of a full OS (Windoze, no less).

I could see NoteSlate being used by designers, in schools and colleges, even by waiting staff, or as a little blackboard next to the fridge, for reminders about milk running low. At $99 that’s pretty feasible.

They’re bringing it out in a bunch of mono-colours (with a 4-colour version to follow), and selling it directly from the site. I’m quite partial to the black on white, white on black and green on black, but wouldn’t sniff at any of the offerings.

Looks like it will drop in June of this year, and pending this being some cruel joke/student prototype I’m grabbing one. Or a couple.

Aside: nobody paid me to gush this much, this just looks like something I’ve been waiting on for a long while, so hopefully it doesn’t have some massive sucky drawback/user experience gotcha