anoto-pendocumentsWe tried out a new pen, the “Anoto penDocuments ,” designed to read your handwriting. There have been several devices of this type over the years and none of them have worked well. This one didn’t work well either.

The idea sounded promising. You start with a form in Microsoft Word, say an expense form or medical record. Load the program and choose “Anoto” in your print menu. Your printer prints the form on a light gray background. Then take your special Anoto pen and fill in the fields. When you’re through, place the pen in a special holder connected to your computer.  And then, says the manual, the form will appear on your computer screen, all filled out and ready to save as a PDF or email.  Oh, yeah?

That’s what the instructions said. In the real world the pen didn’t recognize one word in ten. Our support contact at the company said it was because we had an incompatible printer. We have an Okidata laser printer and a Canon inkjet, but the results were the same with both. These are name brands, so if they’re not good enough, we figured, this thing is brain dead.  It turns out that your printer has to be a “postscript” or “GDI” printer. The company website lists 11 models that they say work best, all of them Okidata. The Anoto lists for $500 and you can find more info at anoto.com.


  1. Another review of Anoto penDocuments Pro in The Gadgeteer — http://the-gadgeteer.com/2010/05/14/anoto-pendocuments-pro-review/ — shows how the product can be used very successfully.

    A key component of Anoto digital pen technology is the Anoto dot pattern, which does require certain printer specifications that a large percentage of printers on the market do meet: A Post Script 3 or GDI color printer with a minimum 600dpi output. It appears that the Mr. Schwabach did not have a printer that met these requirements, although both OKI and Canon do provide printers that meet these specifications. The problems he experienced almost certainly resulted from the dot pattern not being printed by a printer with the correct specifications.

    Also, I’d like to point out that the title of Mr. Schwabach’s review is misleading: Anoto penDocuments Pro does not provide handwriting recognition, although there are many other solutions using Anoto technology which do. Please visit visit http://www.anoto.com/pendocumentspro to learn more about the specific features of Anoto penDocuments Pro, and http://www.anoto.com to learn more about the many ways Anoto technology is used effectively by businesses and consumers all over the world.

    Ginny Carpenter
    Vice President, Marketing – North America
    Anoto, Inc.
    Westborough, MA