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> MGN Review :: PhatWare CalliGrapher 8.2
post Feb 26 2006, 03:58 PM
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CalliGrapher 8.2
By PhatWare
MGN Rating -

Rating Legend

1 star: Find something else; save your money
2 star: Below average; not recommended
3 star: Average; performs as advertised but not inspiring
4 star: Good; worth the money
5 star: Great; best of its kind on the market

Review by Sean
Review Date / Feb 27th, 2006

I think we're the most exciting things about Tablet PC is the handwriting recognition capabilities. I've never been well known for having clean penmanship let alone typing so the concept that a computer can read my chickens scratch and convert it into text is truly amazing. TabletPC is slammin' on recognition. The PocketPC has a very long way to go to catch up to this. I have always found my best character recognition on a PocketPC was to use the letter recognizer tool. At best however, I find that it runs around 85% accuracy on that tool. It can be very frustrating at times.

I often look at the aftermarket character recognition tools and weird new input methods we report on in the site and think to myself that it would be hard to replace the standard tools of Microsoft offers . Recently however, I tried a new one and I was rather pleased with the results. This new tool is CalliGrapher from PhatWare.

The basic premise of this package is it replaces the letter recognizer in the transcriber with one simple to use program (keep in mind these other options are not gone but they'll be gone from your standard everyday use once you try CalliGrapher).

- Optimized to work with the latest Microsoft Windows powered Pocket PCs
- Write Pad Soft Input Panel (SIP).
- Write Anywhere SIP.
- Improved handwriting recognition engine reliably recognizes cursive, print or mixed handwriting
- Ready to Go Without Training
- Seamlessly Integrates with most Pocket PC applications
- Includes Spell Checker with Customizable User Dictionary
- Includes PenCommander
- Enhanced handwriting recognition engine
- Full on-screen keyboard with 13 pre-defined layouts for 10 Western European languages and autocomplete feature
- Built in vocabulary editor
- Auto corrector
- CalliGrapher Statistical Analyzer
- Multilingual support
- Customizable Toolbar
- Customizable 24-key keyboard
- Multilingual support
- Configuration manager
- Letter Shape Selector
- Recognition Margins
- Ink Color Selection and Customizable Ink Width
- Enhanced Screen Orientation
- Separate Letter Mode
- Quick Correct Window

For details on these features check out the product overview or better yet, read the user manual.

Let's also not go on without mentioning the extensive language support of this app. Optional languages packs include English, Danish, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Norwegian, Brazilian Portuguese, European Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish, British English, and US Medical.

The first text input method in this package is called Write Pad. This places a long text entry box along the bottom edge of your screen and allows you to to right just about anything you would like in the box. By selecting the mode of entry, you can force capitalization or number mode and you can even use cursive (this was real hard for me to remember how to do... I never use it) or mixed chicken scratch slop like me. You can see from the examples below that it was surprisingly accurate considering how bad my wiring really is. I found the recognition running around 95-97% on average. It often stumbled on highly technical terms or things like device names but on "normal" words in the dictionary, it was absolutely flawless.

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There are piles of options available to the user to customize not only how the input works, but you can tweak your common letter types to better recognize your writing tendencies.

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The second method included in this package is a direct replacement for the Transcriber tool and is called Write Anywhere. This lets you literally write anywhere. I found this not quite as accurate but still very good. I think it is mostly just a matter of tweaking on my part. You can adjust the recognition to your writing style in many ways; are you a straight across person, a lefty, do you write on a angle, and so on. If you get in a pinch, there is also a handy popup keyboard.

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Again here, there are a pile of options, you can even select the button in the toolbar. By default, for example, there is a PhatPad button. If you don't use it, you can change this to something else.

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Beyond just recognition also, you can do a lot of functions right on the screen.

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This is version 8.2 of this software. What does this mean to you? These folks at PhatWare are relentless at making this software great. There is a good reason PhatWare has won every award you can think of in the mobile world. They are continuously releasing new updates to better accommodate users. The real big updates in this version are the addition of square screen support and inclusion of Windows Mobile 5.0.

As for pricing, you can grab CalliGrapher on it's own for $39.95 for the standard package and add $20 for the medical edition and/or $14.95 for the Language Packs. If you want to load up on the goods from PhatWare however, they offer several package deals on their site giving discounts of you want to grab it with PhatPad, PhatNotes, or the Medial Pack. I can not call this cheap software but if you are frustrated with text entry on your PocketPC device, this may very well solve all your issues. I highly encourage you to at least grab the free trial and see for yourself.

In conclusion, I rate this package at 4 1/2 stars and the half star missing is only due to the price. As far as handwriting recognition goes, I have only found better in the Windows XP TabletPC input panel. For handwriting recognition on a PocketPC, this is a clear winner.

Check it out here...

Sean Murphy
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