PAPERSHOW Presentation Digital Writing Kit

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009 2 comments

paper-showPAPERSHOW is an annotation tool that allows users to draw on paper with a clever pen and paper system that simultaneously creates electronic versions of the sketch on a local computer. The system is connected to any computer with a small USB dongle which wirelessly links to the PAPERSHOW pen. The pen, in turn is used to write on PAPERSHOW paper which features a dot matrix array and some neat control features to alter how the pen strokes appear on the computer screen.

Whilst only using a single pen type on the paper, the PAPERSHOW electronic functionality allows users to create a reasonable variety of appearances for the pen markings on the screen. There are different pen sizes (three different widths) and different colours, (black, yellow, red, blue, green, white). The tool can also be used to create perfectly straight lines or arrows, rather than hand drawn ones along with squares, rectangles, circles or ovals, each either as an outline or as a colour filled shape.

Other functions include an eraser to remove any items previously drawn, completely or in part (this only works for the electronic version though and not the paper) and undo options to remove specific actions.


PAPERSHOW translates the pen strokes to the screen with excellent accuracy. The dot matrix on the paper controls the translation of pen strokes to electronic images and the resolution is high, resulting in almost all the fine detail of the pen stroke being captured electronically. When enlarged onto a projector screen, the overall effect still looks relatively natural, rather than too blocky or pixelated. With PAPERSHOW, users have the added benefit of being able to see what they are drawing either on the screen or, often more usefully, on the drawing pad itself (i.e. the PAPERSHOW paper), which makes it quick and easy to get accurate sketches and annotations on the screen in the correct relative positions to other items that have been drawn.

The pen is easily able to write over existing sketches without interruption to the electronic translation, although the paper needs to be flat at all times as wrinkles or folds in the paper can cause a few minor issues

Whiteboard Function

Possibly the main feature of PAPERSHOW is the whiteboard function, which allows users to write on the paper whilst projecting the PAPERSHOW whiteboard application, creating ‘interactive’ presentations. In reality, the presentation is not much more interactive than the flip chart that PAPERSHOW replaces, however, it is an easy system to use, that can be projected at a far larger size than flip charts and so is accessible to a larger audience. Full screen mode is available to ensure that the audience see only the whiteboard area with no additional buttons, functions or menus.

Multiple electronic whiteboard pages can be created during a presentation, giving the presenter the opportunity to move between each very easily using either the keyboard or action areas built into the PAPERSHOW paper. The same sheet of PAPERSHOW paper can be used for multiple pages, although after three or four whiteboard pages, the paper starts to get very crowded.

Overall the functionality is neat and simple and should facilitate effective whiteboard style presentations.


These images show the actual PAPERSHOW paper used during the PAPERSHOW overview video. There is a close match between the pen markings and electronic transcripts. The images also show PAPERSHOW control tools on each sheet.

PowerPoint Function

Users can also import PowerPoint presentations into PAPERSHOW and directly annotate PowerPoint slides. As with the whiteboard, the PowerPoint slides can be viewed full screen as with any standard presentation.
PowerPoint presentations have to be imported into PAPERSHOW in order to work with the annotation functions and cannot run in parallel with PowerPoint (PowerPoint needs to be closed in order to use PAPERSHOW). This creates a significant problem in that PAPERSHOW does not support animations on slides, so only static slides are shown. For many presentations and presenters, this probably means that PAPERSHOW is a useful tool for summary discussions at best as it does not compliment the presentation that needs to be delivered with animations in PowerPoint.

However, if created as an interactive presentation where key elements of the presentation are removed from the slides, PAPERSHOW does give the presenter an opportunity to engage with an audience in an interactive way and use the PAPERSHOW tool to complete the slide and deliver presentation content specifically for the audience. This type of presentation is not for all situations, but can be effective if delivered correctly and PAPERSHOW is certainly the tool to facilitate it.

Presenters can either use blank PAPERSHOW paper to annotate slides, which, whilst possible, is not easy, or print out their slides on PAPERSHOW paper and so easily and accurately annotate the slides

Saving And Exporting Presentations

All presentations that are created, either through the whiteboard or PowerPoint functions can be saved in the PAPERSHOW format directly to the PAPERSHOW USB drive. The standard USB drive has 250MB of available space to store presentations, with each whiteboard presentation taking up no more than a few KB of space. The PowerPoint presentations uploaded into PAPERSHOW are also saved on the USB drive, but with images, these can fill up the drive rather more quickly. Any files can be easily deleted or stored elsewhere if space becomes an issue.

Once the presentation is over, PAPERSHOW provides users with a number of other options to keep the copies of their presentations.

The contents of the whiteboard or annotated PowerPoint slide can be printed out to any printer and kept as a hard copy as required.

Each whiteboard or slide can be exported to PowerPoint with each page or slide saved as a new slide in PowerPoint. This function only exports a single image for all annotations on the whiteboard or slide and so once exported, users can’t edit any of the elements within the sketch, unless it is exported further to a graphics package for further manipulation. The exported image also includes the background of the sketch, which is either the whiteboard background, in which the default background includes PAPERSHOW logo, but this can be removed, or the content of the original PowerPoint slide that was annotated.

In the same way as exporting to PowerPoint, the contents of PAPERSHOW can be exported into a pdf file.


Installation of PAPERSHOW is relatively easy as everything runs straight from the PaperShow USB key. This means that PAPERSHOW can be transferred between multiple computers and with the presentations stored on the same USB key, there is no need to rely on other devices, although a back up is always recommended.

First time users have to connect to the internet to activate the system and also pair the PAPERSHOW pen with the USB counterpart. These tasks are very quick and within a few minutes, everything is running OK, with minimal input from the user.


Currently, PAPERSHOW is only compatible with Windows XP and Windows Vista, meaning that Windows 7 or Mac users have to miss out for now. There are notes on the PAPERSHOW website about support for Mac coming soon, but this has been the case for a while, meaning either Mac support is imminent or still a long way off.

PAPERSHOW is also not fully compatible with PowerPoint 2007 or 2010. Any .pptx presentation files will need to be converted into .ppt (PowerPoint 2003) files in order to work correctly. Although this is easily achieved in the newer versions of PowerPoint it can limit some of the graphics and functionality of the presentation, so ensure that a copy of the original presentation is kept in .pptx format.


PAPERSHOW is a great tool for getting hand drawn sketches into an electronic format that can be used during presentations. The accuracy is good with the resulting images easy to see with excellent clarity (dependent upon the presenter’s own abilities!). As a replacement for a flip chart or whiteboard or for use with static PowerPoint slides, the tool is excellent. However, the lack of support for annotating animated slides means that PAPERSHOW has very limited use as a tool to support engaging and effective presentations and users should consider very carefully before using PaperShow whether it is the right tool for the job.


star35 3/5 stars


Price: From about £110

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2 Comments to PAPERSHOW Presentation Digital Writing Kit

  1. #1

    John Slack

    4:08 pm, December 14th, 2010

    First, let me say that I very much like what I have seen.
    Now my questions:
    first, is Papershow available in the USA? If yes, what is the price?
    Second, it seems to me that Papershow is ideal for the training environment since training should be interactive and supported by interactive tools. Am I accurate in my understanding that your product will work well in that environment?
    Third, can I use your product and a virtual environment? I am frequently delivering to people who are geographically distributed so I am in a “Live Meeting,” “Go To Meeting,” Blackboard or WebEx environment. Can Papershow function in any of these environments?
    Thank you for your time, John Slack [phone number removed]

  2. #2

    Joby Blume

    5:22 pm, December 14th, 2010

    PAPERSHOW appears to be available from – the starter pack is ~ $180.

    The technology works well in face-to-face training environments; in a sense, it provides a whiteboard, but it can also annotate existing PowerPoint slides.

    We didn’t test PAPERSHOW in any of the virtual platforms that you mentioned. My sense is that it wouldn’t function, as the software is proprietary and wouldn’t integrate. A web search might reveal more recent developments in functionality.