neu.Notes iPad app provides a smooth note-taking experience

by Michael D. Carattini

There are many applications that allow you to compose handwritten notes on the iPad. However, it seems like each app has its own strengths and weaknesses. neu.Notes (free) is a solid application with some great features, but even now, we still don't have an app that "does it all."

As a teacher, I've been using my iPad to supplement my lessons in class. I hook up my iPad to the projector, and use Penultimate to write music for the class to see. The iPad has many advantages to the chalkboard, but I have yet to find the perfect notes app to make the iPad a consistent and powerful tool. One weakness in other note apps is the lack of color choices. neu.Notes already has one up in this area because of the wide variety of colors to choose from for your pens. You can also set up six pens to your desired color, thickness and opacity. So, instead of having to change one pen to another color and thickness, you can have them ready to go with just a tap.

Writing in this application is very smooth. The strokes look great, and the response is perfect. As with all note apps, there is a slight lag from when you move your finger or stylus to when the actual ink shows up on screen, but it is very minor. There is also VGA out support, so with the appropriate Apple cable, you can display what you are drawing on an external monitor, such as a projector. One of the great advantages of this app over others is that you can pinch to zoom-in to your notes while projecting to a monitor.

You can also add photos to your notes. It's as simple as tapping the photos button, selecting an image, and placing it on the page. You can flip, stretch, and rotate the photos before placement. However, I couldn't re-engage the photo after placement. Once it's there, it's there unless you erase it and add it again. I'm sure this is an easy fix for the next update.

You can create multiple notebooks and multiple pages within each notebook. Titles and tags help organize your notes so you can easily find them later.

As stated earlier, neu.Notes is a fantastic application with a ton of features that other apps are lacking. However, there is one feature that might keep this app from being my primary notes app, at least until it's added in an update. As a result of the multi-touch capabilities for pinch and zoom, there is no wrist-protection support. With other apps, I can rest my palm on the screen, and write at the same time. The app will recognize where my wrist is, and it won't draw any lines there as my wrist moves. With neu.Notes, you can't rest your wrist on the screen while you write. I've found that this feature makes writing notes much easier on the iPad, and I hope the developer adds this capability in the future.

Being a free app, it's a must-own for anyone who has a need for creating handwritten notes. It can only get better over time.