Review: Note Taker HD for iPad
Software Garden’s Note Taker HD is an application for your iPad designed to help you quickly capture notes using your finger, a stylus, or keyboard. The app also allows you to annotate PDF files and add a variety of graphics to your notes, including graphs, tables, and your own drawings and sketches.
Note Taker HD is a pretty nondescript looking app. Unlike most of the iOS apps you may have used, it has no 3-D buttons, graphics, or text. Don’t be put off by its basic look, however: Note Taker HD offers a simple-yet-powerful set of tools to help you capture notes no matter what they are.
Note Taker HD’s main screen is divided into two distinct areas. On the left is a list of your documents, which you can organize into folders; on the right is an image of the currently selected document. Just below the document image are a number of tools you can use to move, duplicate, name, tag, favorite, and print your documents. Double-tapping any document opens it in edit mode.
Note Taker HD is designed to use your physical input to collect your notes. When I say that, I don’t necessarily mean standard keyboard input, although you can definitely do that. What I mean is it’s designed for you to write or draw on the screen using your finger or a stylus.
Finger writing works well enough, but I found that I’m too fat-fingered to write with my fingers as precisely as I normally do with a pen or a pencil. So I picked up an inexpensive Bamboo stylus which, for me, made a significant difference in the quality of my writing.
One of the challenges of writing on an iPad is trying to figure out where and how to rest your hands. Errant palm taps typically move the cursor to a place where you’re not writing or can add input to a document in places you do not intend. Note Taker HD resolves this problem with a simple zoom feature that allows you to write at the bottom of the iPad screen while the actual text you’re writing appears wherever you want it on the page. The zoom option also has a couple of buttons that let you write all the way across the page and then return to the beginning of the next line with a quick tap. If you’re left-handed, a Writing Wrist Postion setting makes it easier for you to write without inadvertent input.
The app also offers a number of pen setting, colors, and highlighting options, which make it easy for you to highlight important text and to reproduce drawings and other hand-drawn images.
Beyond text and hand-drawn input, Note Taker HD offers a graphic mode for creating graphs, pie charts, and flowcharts, and for adding musical staff lines, tablature, chord charts, and even clip-art to your notes. Once you’ve finalized your notes, they can be emailed, added to your photo library, or printed using AirPrint. The quality of Note Taker HD’s printed text was amazing and my hand-written text seemed clearer than my normal writing on a piece of paper.
My only complaint about Note Taker HD is the app’s inability to register different pressure when I was writing. That occasionally translated to a lack of input if I wasn’t pressing on the iPad screen hard enough. But that’s a small complaint for an otherwise excellent app.
Note Taker HD is a truly useful, thoughtfully designed app for capturing ideas and notes, whether you’re in the classroom or the boardroom. It’s also the only note-taking app I’ve used that makes giving up my steno pad a serious consideration.