Review: Ampad Shot Note

4 out of 5 stars

Ampad ShotNote

Ampad ShotNote


  • take written notes and turn them into digital notes
  • share notes with other people and programs
  • easy to use
  • pads of paper come in various sizes as well as blank,  wide ruled, and dot graph
  • iPhone app is free
  • ability to make a multi-page note


  • focus was quite variable
  • requires purchased paper to use
  • no control with sending to Dropbox


When I decide to write a review, I approach the product with as much of a blank slate as possible – keeping my mind open to see the benefits and drawbacks.  Except with this one – the Ampad Shot Note (paper and iPhone app), I discovered I had high expectations.  I’d been imagining how I could use it – even modifying it to suit other ideas.  And I immediately began trying it out in these other ways – before exploring it in the way it was designed.  As soon as I realized this, I took a step back and began testing it out exactly as they intended.  Similar to my trying to use it with the variations, my experiences shifted and changed throughout my using it.

As with many of the products I review, it came from the NAPO conference where they shared some of the paper and gave us a demo on how it works.  The paper has special symbols on the four corners, which the app uses.  You take notes, sketch, doodle, or whatever on this paper and then use the app to take a picture of it.  These images are limited to the paper – it uses those corner codes to eliminate anything else – so you won’t get distracting background.  It also keeps the image straight.  It’s easy to make your notes more than 1 page when needed, even when it’s an afterthought.  After taking the pictures of your notes, the next step is to put in a title and if you want, a description and tags, which will help you find your digital notes later.  That’s the process.  If you want to share it, you have the option for different methods: camera roll, email, Evernote, Dropbox, and Twitter.

Once I slowed down, I wrote out things on their paper to use with the app.  Although I wasn’t in the brightest of places, I could not get the app to capture an image of my notes that was crisp and clear.  I need to add the caveat that I often have a tremble that can make taking focused pictures challenging.

Test 1 First test of the Shot Note

First test of the Shot Note

I continued to experiment – testing out the same notes outside on a bright day in the shade and then out in the sun.  It was surprising how blue the notes were in the shade.

Test 2 outside shade

Test 2 of Shot Note
-outside shade

The best has been the note that was taken outside in full sun.

Test 3 outside full sun

Test 3 of Shot Note
– outside full sun

During this process it occurred to me that some of what this product is offering might be available from simply using the camera within the phone.  Therefore, I tried using the iPhone camera to see how the images compared.  Inside, the iPhone performed better and you have the option for flash with it.  With your iPhone (maybe other smart phones?) you also have the same options for sharing with email and Twitter.  It’s already on your camera roll.

Although neither of these pictures are truly good – the words are blurry – they show the (blown-up) differences between the Shot Note program and a general iPhone picture of the same note.  Both of these were taken with the first batch, inside.

Close-up of Shot Note

Zoomed in picture from Shot Note


Zoomed in image of same Shot Note with iPhone camera

Zoomed in image of same Shot Note with iPhone camera













As far as Evernote options – the Ampad Shot Note gives you the option for connecting the two programs, so all your captured notes with Shot Note will go into a specific Evernote folder.  That specific Evernote folder is assigned within settings, so this isn’t something you decide with each specific note.  Everyone who has an Evernote account also has a special Evernote email address where you can email anything directly into Evernote.  You can also choose to send emails into specific folders in Evernote on a case-by-case basis.  Evernote has handwriting recognition, so any note is then searchable – regardless of its original source.  Both Shot Note and camera images with writing had the same recognition within Evernote, as long as the images were clear – the blurry though still readable to me images did not come up with the search.

With Dropbox, Ampad Shot Note creates a folder in your Dropbox where everything you share with it goes – you cannot define where each note goes (other apps are giving you the option for choosing it’s exact places, i.e. within other folders).

From the moment I was introduced to this product, I asked about using it without having to buy the paper.  They explained that the 4 corner codes are critical since the program uses those in how it processes – the app has guides/boxes on screen that you center over the 4 corner codes – although they said otherwise, it should work.  I had what I thought was a great idea… to use those 4 corners with other papers.  I cut all 4 of them out and placed them on the 4 corners of another piece of paper and tried to use the app.  It tried to take the picture and I received an error message, although it did save the image where you can share it.  I then tried cutting off the top and bottom of the paper and placing the 2 strips on the top and bottom of another paper – the same thing happened.  Somehow the app is smart.  The program isn’t “complaining” when you place another piece of paper on top of the pad with the corners showing – and will treat that image just like it was your notes, sketches, or doodles.

The idea of this is wonderful – a way to unite the paper world with your digital realm.  This means that first you are already comfortable with the technology, that you appreciate the digital aspects available to you.  Second, it’s also designed for people who are largely limited to their phones (and computers) for their access – since you can more easily use an iPad for taking notes with your handwriting.  Then the question is whether you have a need for the features of this product.  It’s not often I take handwritten notes that need to be with me or that I want to share with someone else – or rather if I do, I use my iPad for that.

Can you think of how this can benefit you and your life?

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