November 21, 2010

Penultimate Isn't That Ultimate

Here is the text of the review I wrote for Penultimate, which I figured I'd try after seeing all the good reviews and the very nice user interface.

My overall impression is that I'm disappointed with Penultimate, especially compared to other offerings. Here are my main complaints:

- even with the "thin" pen, the pen is still too thick. While the strokes are very smooth, it renders my handwriting into stylized chicken scratch.
- I can only get about five words on a line, which is less than a normal wide-ruled composition book. With NoteTaker HD, I get about fourteen or fifteen words per line. You also don't get any margins, so you get even less room than a paper notebook. I don't understand how people can use this as a serious tool. I'm always running out of space!
- the wrist protector works most of the time, but I still end up with lots of stray marks at the bottom of the page by the time I'm done. I have to pause to erase the lines and dots when I get near the bottom.
- no way to add pages in the middle or delete pages.
- each notebook can only have a single paper type.
- all pens are fully opaque so you can't highlight anything without crossing it out.
- while writing is mostly smooth, it often loses entire strokes, leaving me with half-formed letters or missing crossed t's.

The user interface is very clean and well thought-out, which is why I can give it some leeway, and why I really want to like it. However, I can barely get enough written on a page to make it worthwhile. This isn't for serious note takers.

(As an aside, I finally broke down and bought iA's Writer, which helped author this post. I really like it.)

Posted by pinkerton at November 21, 2010 10:27 AM | TrackBack