If you need something a little more responsive and modern than an Etch-a-Sketch and can't wait for a Scribble to break cover, then perhaps the Boogie Board can help. The pressure-sensitive LCD display requires no power to retain an image, and is ideal for virtually any task that requires a temporary note to be taken.

Improv Electronics has calculated that trillions of sheets of paper could be saved if the Boogie Board was used instead of note pads by a whole age group of U.S. school children for the life of the device (over 50,000 screen erasures). The 8.8 x 5.6 x 0.125 inch, 4.2 ounce writing tablet sports a writing surface equivalent to about half a sheet of letter-size paper, and can retain scribed text or images without power until the user hits erase.

When not in use, modules suspended in the surface of the display technology are arranged to allow the dark plastic background to show through. When pressure is applied, it alters the state of the modules and causes them to reflect light - appearing as white lines on the reflective, pressure-sensitive, plastic LCD surface. Line width is proportional to the amount of pressure applied and users can draw with a variety of objects to achieve different line shapes, including a finger, stiff paint brush or the included stainless steel telescopic stylus.

To erase a note, memo, message, list or doodle, a user simply presses the erase button. This sends a small electric charge through the modules and effectively resets the display. The device works on a sealed 3V watch battery but the company is looking at ways to make the product battery free, such as including photovoltaic cells. A special polymer hardcoat has been applied to the writing surface to prevent scratches, making the device robust enough for daily use as a multi-purpose paper replacement.

Although beautifully simple, the Boogie Board does have a couple of drawbacks. If a mistake is made, it's not possible to just erase a part of the screen. The user is faced with starting all over again or just crossing through. The current version is also unable to save content for future recall. Both issues are being looked at, with selective erase and onboard or external save functions possibly making it through to future design revisions.

The Boogie Board is available now for US$39.95.

View gallery - 6 images