iPad-using lawyers must look at UPAD

One of the great features of the iPad is its ability to serve as a place to capture quick handwritten notes. Apps like Note Taker HD and Penultimate let you use a stylus (or, in a pinch, your finger) to take notes like you would on paper. Many lawyers consider Note Taker HD (written by Dan Bricklin, who created Visicalc–the very first spreadsheet) to be the more powerful of the two.

Both of these apps live on my iPad. I tend to use Penultimate a bit more due to its simplicity compared to Note Taker HD’s power (and corresponding slight uptick in complexity). One thing that bugs me about both, however, has been the slight disconnect between what I felt I was “writing” on the screen with my stylus and what appeared on the screen. There is just enough inaccuracy in terms of lines meeting and the like to make a slightly OCD person annoyed.

Enter UPAD. The makers of UPAD like to claim they have created an app that feels very close to writing on paper. The UPAD web site offers a look at what this app can do for you. A solid review on another web site (which now I can’t find) led me to pay the $4.99 and download it. I am very, very happy that I did.

First, the handwriting accuracy is terrific. Where a loosely written pair of letters might look like a squiggle in Penultimate, in UPAD it looks like a loosely written pair of letters—that I can read. The writing looks much more like what I write on actual paper. The fact that I can choose the type (and to some extent the color) of paper I’m writing on is a nice plus. UPAD also boasts a filing system that any Mac, Windows or Linux user will find familiar: it’s similar to folders, and you can move documents from one place to another.

UPAD has some nice interface tweaks as well. The wrist protection, for example, appears as a translucent grey layer right on top of the page. I know exactly where it is, and the handle to grab and move it is obvious. Another great feature of UPAD is its support for VGA out.

For me, UPAD has now replaced Penultimate and Note Taker HD as my note taking application. It’s fast and accurate enough to use in a meeting and take good notes, whereas I never felt Penultimate or Note Taker HD was quite fast or accurate enough to completely replace a traditional paper pad and pen. UPAD is, and I’ve enjoyed using it in the courtroom and office conferences.

Like any other solution, UPAD isn’t perfect—but then neither is pen and paper. UPAD is definitely worth looking into. It might just convince you to leave your paper pad behind for good. All I know is I need to include this at my upcoming presentation at the Indiana State Bar Association annual meeting, even if it is too late to refer to it in the written materials.

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