Five years ago no one would have ever imagined that some of the biggest software companies would be introducing a plethora of analog products. Thanks in part to the digital backlash, we have four new products from such giants as Microsoft, Adobe, Corel and Caere. Can they deliver in this ever-increasing fast-paced hyper-now digitally driven economy? Pctyrant takes a long hard look at these analog products and asks the unthinkable.... "do we really need this stuff?"

Adobe Analogit

Adobe jumps into the ever-growing analog market with its new solution for instantly creating analog hard copy backups with its Analogit software/hardware. Skeptical at first, I gave Adobe's Analogit a try. Setup was surprisingly easy and since it was analog there is no need to worry if it would be compatible with my operating system. Using it, however, was not as easy but I quickly got the hang of it, too . As I would collect new email addresses from potential clients I would simply write them down using my hand and the Adobe SureFlow Point and Write transcribing device on the three by five inch cellulose cards provided. Alphabetizing had to be done from memory as the Analogit only had categories for the first letter in each person's last name. This was a little confusing when I had to catalog both Harry Bartholomew's and Wendy Barthomas' contact information on the same day. Later in the week, hours before a deadline, my computer crashed. Not being able to reboot, I started to panic... until I remembered the Analogit. I searched the numbers that I had been collecting and quickly found tech support. The money I saved in reduced down time more than paid for the Analogit in just one week..I highly recommend it.


Adobe Analogit
Price: $225.00
System Requirements

20/20 vision, full dexterity right and left hand, six inch by six inch flat surface for mounting, knowledge of alphabetical order systems and theory, minimum 95 IQ

What's Hot
Analog hard copies are nearly impossible to destroy. No batteries required. Non digital format delivers true "plug and play" capabilities.
What's Not
Alphabetizing by hand can be difficult.

Microsoft List 2000
Price: $256.00
System Requirements

20/20 vision, full dexterity right and left hand, basic literacy in one or more languages, minimum 95 IQ

Microsoft List 2000

"The portable analog list creation solution" declares the box cover of the new Microsoft List 2000. List 2000 is not really software but hardware, which signals a departure for the Microsoft Corp. The analog based user interface is touted as an alternative to the PalmPilot and comes with a small handheld writing device that produces text directly onto a writing tablet. As you fill the tablet with text you simply flip the page to continue or start a new project. The tablet and writing device fit easily in my back pocket and was surprisingly durable. I dropped it four times on the way to the supermarket, held it between my teeth and even spilled juice on it, yet the List 2000 not only maintained all of my data but accepted more without a glitch. I was almost sold on the List 2000 until I decided to send my shopping list to my wife for a routine double check and realized that wasn't possible. Completely lacking the e-mail features of the PalmPilot, List 2000 documents must be collected by hand and delivered in hard copy form or transcribed to a digital device to be sent via modem. I also found that making a mistake was a problem as there is no way to spell check or grammar check my input and all mistakes had to be crossed out by hand or ignored . Though the Microsoft List 2000 is a nice product, I'm not so sure if people are ready to give up their PalmPilot just yet.

What's Hot
Felt tip and ball point compatible writing tablet is truly portable and the WYSIWYG interface was amazingly accurate to every nuance of the pen's movement, including pressure.Tablet is nearly indestructible and requires no batteries.
What's Not
Not compatible with Microsoft's suite of office products. Pen sometimes clogged and had to be "shaken" to reboot. No spell check and mistakes were permanent. No e-mail or web capabilities.
Prolonged use of "pen" hurt my fingers. Occasional paper cuts slow productivity.

Corel Sketch 5.0

After playing catch-up with Adobe for years, Corel may have finally beat them to the punch. "Sketch or draw in almost any environment" claims the box cover and the Corel Sketch 5.0 analog graphics creation tool delivers. The kit comes with a sketch "pad" with enough memory for 100 full color projects and an assortment of WYSIWYG editing tools. "So simple a child could use it" is the phrase that pops into my head, and in some ways I feel like one. The analog graphics tools are brilliant in their simplicity and respond in real-time to every nuance of pressure and angling. In fact, no matter how quickly I worked I was unable to detect any lag time between the stroke of my hand and the actual display of the results on the tablet. The one drawback I noticed while immersed in a drawing of a horse was that if I pressed too hard or used overly saturated colors my document would sometimes "bleed" into the next project template. I'm not sure if this is a memory allocation problem or an interface glitch but Corel's expert support team assured me that the problem will be fixed with its release Sketch 5.1. Overall, a solid effort from the graphics underdog.

Corel Sketch 5.0
Price: $309.00
System Requirements

20/20 vision (color vision recommended), full dexterity right and left hand, table or floor for support, basic creativity and perception skills, minimum 70 IQ

What's Hot
The WYSIWYG editing tools are quite possibly the most responsive on the market, graphics tablet is truly portable and requires no batteries, so simple a child could use it.
What's Not
Current project template has a tendency to bleed in into blank project templates. No undo or delete feature means mistakes are permanent or must be covered up with artistic finesse.

Caere PhotoKeeper Mobile 2.0

What you do do when you need to share photos with someone who doesn't have a computer? This is what the people at Caere asked themselves and the PhotoKeeper Mobile 2.0 is their solution. The PhotoKeeper derives its inspiration from the various PC photo gallery editing tools that we have all become so familiar with. The interface is primitive but effective. Hardcopy photos are simply placed upon the viewing surface and a layer of clear plastic is then laid over them to hold them in place and protect them from wear. Compatible with black and white and color formats as well as virtually any size of photo, the PhotoKeeper bridges the chasm between the Techno elite and the 19th-century Luddites. "Two-thirds of the world's population have never made a phone call and 99 percent have never even used a computer," says Chief Technologist at Caere, "and for the phone and computer-savvy population to ignore this would be simply foolish." With the PhotoKeeper Mobile 2.0 I can now share those family photos with my grandmother, the only problem is now I actually have to DRIVE over their to show them to her!

Caere PhotoKeeper Mobile 2.0
Price: $295.00
System Requirements

20/20 vision, full dexterity right and left hand,a lap or desk for support, basic knowledge of hard copy photo care and handling, minimum 95 IQ

What's Hot
Portable hardcopy photo format means easy sharing with those without a computer. Analog interface means photos are nearly impossible to accidentally delete. $295 price tag is a real bargain compared to buying a computer and paying for an Internet service provider for those friends and family who lack such facilities.
What's Not
Analog interface means rearranging photos is a tedious hands-on process, no way to attach sound or mpeg movie files, not compatible with AOL

Surviving the Digital Backlash. Don't miss this exciting article on growing and disturbing movement.

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