Aral Balkan

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Boogie Board: a beautiful, modern, portable take on the blackboard

Photo of Blackboard in its box.

The Boogie Board Blackboard by Kent Displays

I’m always on the look-out for tools that help me think things through with quick sketches and notes. Until recently, nothing really beat a traditional whiteboard and a good paper notebook and pen. So you can imagine that I was suitably excited to discover the Boogie Board Blackboard by Kent Displays.

Photo of the Blackboard on a wooden table with some early Hypha plans on it in green text.

Green on black. Shown with the dotted paper backing template.

The Boogie Board Blackboard is a no-frills electronic writing instrument that has a cholesteric liquid crystal display (ChLCD). Or what their marketing department calls Liquid Crytal Paper™.

In practice, it means that images are created by a mechanical/chemical process when you write on the Boogie Board with a stylus. No electricty required. The only time the device’s watch battery is used is when you want to erase something. This also explains why the battery, which is replacable, is stated to last around five years.

Prior to this model, erasing the screen was an all or nothing affair for Boogie Boards. That changes with the Blackboard. The included stylus has an eraser side that you can use to rub out portions of your work. And it even looks like you were rubbing out pencil on paper, with slight smudges. Far from being a problem, I feel it adds even more to the analogue feel of the device.

And feel is what it’s all about.

Photo of Laura writing on the Blackboard.

Laura using the Blackboard.

The Boogie Board Blackboard feels like you’re writing on an analogue medium. It doesn’t feel exactly like paper or a blackboard. It has its own feel. And it feels good.

The Blackboard comes in two sizes (note and letter1). I got the larger letter-sized one. And I love it.

Given that this is a no-frills instrument, there is no fancy way to transfer what you’ve created to the digital realm. There is, however, an app you can download that lets you save your work by taking a photo of the screen with your phone. It has the ability to detect the corners of the Blackboard but, in practice, it has never done so correctly for me. Instead, I set the corners manually. It’s not a hassle. The app can then optionally apply an enhancing filter (I make it convert the green on black image to dark gray on white) and store it, catagorizing it by title and date/last update. All in all, this process works perfectly well for me.

Here is a sample of the saved output. You will probably start to see me post images with the aesthetic as I work on Hypha. So now you know where they come from.

One of the images captured by the Blackboard app: black on white, Hypha plans.

An image saved on the Blackboard app.

The Blackboard is the first electronic writing instrument I’ve used that just works. It gets out of the way and lets me think through something without worrying about the medium I’m using to do so.

I couldn’t find this particular model for sale in the EU so I ended up ordering it from the US. It got here in two days for around €50. In case you’re confused, that’s the price of the device and the shipping, not just the shipping. In the US, the smaller version sells for $35 and the larger goes for $45 making this one affordable little electronic writing tablet.

And did I mention it feels great to write on it?

  1. Because when have Americans ever used rational measurements? (The note is smilar to A4 and the letter is larger than that.) ↩︎