Penultimate for iPad review - Hands on note-taking app from Evernote

Penultimate from the respected Evernote aims to make note taking on an iPad, never a fun experience without the addition of an actual keyboard, a more productive and pleasurable task by junking typing for a stylus, or at a push a fat finger or two. Billed as the 'easiest-to-use, best-selling handwriting app for iPad,' Penultimate is free but comes with an array of Top In-App Purchases starting from 69p, which makes the app a more attractive but expensive proposition. While not all extras will interest everyone - individual papers devoted to games, music, photos and more - Evernote Premium, costing £31.99 per year, includes some tempting features to manage your thoughts, ideas, tasks, and to-do lists essentially everywhere.  

Penultimate’s desire to recreate notebook and pen faithfully digitally extends to creating small virtual Moleskine style note and drawing pads, the kind hipsters like to display while doodling in coffee shops. By its very nature, the apps reality-imitating skeuomorphism doesn't fit well with the new simplified iOS 7 interface, so it will be interesting to see if  Evernote adopt Apple's new look.

Penultimate for iPad

Armed with a decent stylus, Adonit's dedicated active stylus for instance, you can cleverly create notes, drawings and more that can be searched, archived and shared while complimenting nicely Evernote's keyboard-centric apps and services. Content can be rearranged, edited or deleted with relative ease without ending up with only a few pages and cover left to try and make sense of. A simple but useful selection of tools adds to both productivity and creativity, while, with practice, you can zoom and drift across a page to focus on detail when working. 

Evernote's promotional video shows users holding an iPad with one hand while writing with another, which in reality isn't ideal but makes more sense now with the introduction of the lighter, slimline iPad Air. The company uses something it calls 'Smart Wrist Protection,' to help support different writing styles and avoid unwanted mark making. It's worth adding, the current Version 5.0, introduced in October this year is not without bugs, noted by users on the Apple iTunes App Store, which Evernote will hopefully rectify sooner than later.

Penultimate for iPad

OUR VERDICT

Despite a recent buggy update, Penultimate still comes recommended as a responsive, attractive note taking app that makes lighter work of collecting your thoughts as long as your handwriting is reasonably legible. It also sits nicely with Evernote's array of tools for Mac, PC, smartphone and tablet, particularly if you opt for Evernote Premium.

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