Still confused on handwriting/notes apps

Discussion in 'iPad Apps' started by brn2rnjk1, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. brn2rnjk1 macrumors 6502

    Feb 24, 2008
    I have read the myriad of good articles on these but still confused on what (if any) would work for my needs. All I want to do is take notes at meetings that I would otherwise take on a legal pad. So, just needs to be clear on handwriting. Don't want issues that not all letters appear or anything like that. Also what stylus works best?

    Don't really need conversion or the like to start with

  2. mattdeezy macrumors member

    Jul 3, 2011
    I have read hundreds of threads and articles on this and tested heaps of apps and half a dozen stylus' and have concluded;

    App: Notability
    Stylus: Wacom Bamboo Stylus Duo
  3. Luis2004 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2012
    I too have read a thousand articles and have tested apps beyond number, and my wisdom says:

    Best App: Noteshelf

    Best stylus: Boxwave Evernote mesh stylus
  4. GerritV macrumors 65816

    May 11, 2012
    Noteshelf, beyond a doubt - I use it constantly.
    It's highly responsive, so for quick and short notes I don't use the zoom.
    When taking notes during long meetings, I do use the zoom. Surprised each time how it makes even my handwriting look good and... readable.

    Bamboo Stylus is very good. I recently got a Maglus, which takes some getting used to. So far, I prefer the Bamboo for sketching and the Maglus for writing.
  5. robdam1001, Jan 8, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 9, 2013

    robdam1001 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 23, 2008
    SO MANY threads asking this same thing.

    App: Remarks or Notability

    Stylus: Maglus or Jot Pro (both are magnetic)
  6. jojoba macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    Agree with this. I really like Notability, I've written about how I use it here.
  7. Luis2004 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2012
    Notability is fine for writing notes. But if you want to annotate PDFs, it blows because it lags on rendering PDF pages when scrolling. It drove me nuts.

    Also, the UI is awful. I love Noteshelf's, well, note shelf.


    I've wanted to try Jot Pro for a long time, but scared to death that it will scratch my iPad. I don't use screen protectors, and some of the reviews on Amazon mentioned fine scratches because of it. . . .also that it's loud on the glass, with a clicking sound, and that it also gets "stuck" if you have a screen protector on.
  8. jojoba macrumors 68000

    Dec 9, 2011
    I prefer dedicated annotation apps for marking up PDFs. I use iAnnotate, but PDF Expert and GoodReader are also good alternatives.
  9. TJ61 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 16, 2011
    Hopefully this is helpful to the OP and not just a thread hijack:

    I recently purchased my first and only stylus (Wacom Bamboo CS100K) for my iPad mini. I was very disappointed with how much pressure it took to be recognized. I tried it with a few different apps (Notability, SketchBook). I thought the problem might be my screen protector, so I peeled it back, difference.

    In contrast, I barely need to touch the screen with my finger in these apps to make a mark, even with a screen protector. The pressure required for a stylus would make it difficult to write fast.

    I'd be interested to know what other stylus users think about pressure required to write. Did I get a bad stylus?

  10. GerritV macrumors 65816

    May 11, 2012
    I recently got a Maglus. Not only heavier than the Bamboo, but also a very smooth tip - it's already my favorite above the Bamboo. The combination of weight and high quality tip calls for no pressure at all. At the same time, these very same qualities make the Maglus less fitting for drawing and sketching - at least to me. On those occasions, the light weight Bamboo allows more "swing of the wrist" so to speak.
    Hope I make sense.
  11. Luis2004 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2012
    The BoxWave evertouch fiber-mesh tipped stylus requires barely any pressure to register. It's very responsive, and I use it for note taking (almost daily) and occasional sketching.

    You should try it. It's less than $10 on amazon.
  12. robdam1001 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 23, 2008
    The new Jot Pros has a supposedly "silent" tip available. I have the original and it is loud.
  13. Luis2004 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2012
  14. robdam1001 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 23, 2008
    None that my 20/15 eyes can see, no.

    I just pre-ordered the new Adonit Jot Touch with BT.
  15. MrPeripatetic macrumors member

    Nov 5, 2009
    I have tried many of the popular note taking apps. Here's my ranking of the BEST note taking apps based on a combination of best inking engine (which is itself a combo of smoothness, speed, quality, customizability), UI, and features:

    1. Goodnotes
    2. Noteshelf
    3. Upad
    4. Notes Plus
    5. Note Taker HD
    6. Notability
    7. DocAS

    I consider all of the above to be very good. IMO these beat out the rest of the popular note taking apps (Ghostwriter, Remarks, etc.), which isn't to say that some of these others aren't decent.
  16. TJ61 macrumors 6502a

    Nov 16, 2011
    Thanks for the recommendations -- I just tried Goodnotes, since they have a very functional and free lite version. I don't have my stylus on me, but using a finger it appears to have a noticeably faster response than Notability, the only app on your list I already have. For that, I would give it the nod for taking notes.

  17. Luis2004, Jan 11, 2013
    Last edited: Jan 11, 2013

    Luis2004 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2012
    Goodnotes has great stylus response and their "advance" feature in zoom mode is second to none. Very quick to respond.

    I just wish they had better notebook and paper selections. Their shelf UI is gorgeous and nicer than Noteshelf, but Noteshelf has a wide selection of notebook covers (leather, etc) and paper which makes it extremely customizable.

    Argh. If Goodnotes had a wider selection of notebooks and paper, it would literally be perfect.

    Notes Plus actually has a zoom advance feature just like Goodnotes, but their UI is awful. Shelf is non-existent. Just terrible.
  18. GerritV macrumors 65816

    May 11, 2012
    Hey Luis, you got my curiosity peeked enough to open GoodNotes once again.
    Good app indeed, I can even live with their list of paper types - the covers on the other hand are poorly designed. But in the end, the wrist protection of Noteshelf is something I don't want to be without.

    Oh, and allow me to chime in on the Notes+ UI - what a waist of pixels all around.
  19. Luis2004 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2012

    Hold the phone! I just discovered you can import your own templates on notebook covers and paper in GoodNotes!! (I'm working on some in photoshop as we speak. . . .yes, it's a slow work day today.)

    Goodnotes also has wrist protection; you can move the pane a little higher up than on Noteshelf.

    And that bookshelf UI is gorgeous, with the glass shelves.

    I don't know. I think Goodnotes has just won the battle for being my daily driver.
  20. GerritV macrumors 65816

    May 11, 2012
    Managed a template? Did you make it in iPad's Retina resolution?
  21. Luis2004 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2012
    I was able to import a notebook cover simply photoshopping a leather texture, but haven't gotten around to the paper yet.... There are instructions on how to do it for retina display on their website,, under user guide, then "Templates". I will give it a try a little later.
  22. Luis2004 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2012
    Well I spent a considerable amount of time yesterday making a template for paper on Goodnotes, and it just isn't as seamless as Noteshelf. Also, while messing around with note taking and writing, I have come to the conclusion that Noteshelf is simply the best with ink selection, handwriting clarity and ease, and overall UI.

    I'm done experimenting... Noteshelf is my daily driver, with my nice imported paper and covers.

    Now if only I could make a decision on a stylus. I'm using the Boxwave mesh right now, but I hear a lot of good things about Bamboo.....
  23. Taustin Powers macrumors regular

    Apr 5, 2005
    I finally tried Noteshelf this weekend and I was a little underwhelmed. Maybe I just don't know how to use it right?

    - Typing text:
    Is there a way to just type continuous text on the page, with automatic page breaks? I only found the "text box", which disappears off the page when you type too much.

    - Handwriting Zoom Window Advance:
    I don't like their technique of auto-advancing the zoom window. Notability (and I think Remarks) employ the same concept. Notes Plus and GoodNotes got this one right, IMO. Makes a huge difference for me. If handwriting were very important to me, I wouldn't even consider other apps.

    - PDF's:
    Still no importing / annotating PDF's, it looks like?

    What I do like is their handwriting engine. It's very responsive and looks great.

    I've been using both Notability and GoodNotes lately, depending on what I need to do. I really want to like Notes Plus for all its features, but the UI is not intuitive, and the performance is too sluggish on my iPad2.
  24. Luis2004 macrumors 6502a

    Dec 30, 2012
    I know your message wasn't directed at me personally, but I thought I'd respond regardless :):

  25. AMC89 macrumors member

    Apr 13, 2012
    Just got noteshelf. So far so good. Happy with it

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