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SketchBox review

Verdict:

Review Date: 10 Oct 2007

Price when reviewed:

Reviewed By: Giles Turnbull

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

SketchBox offers a new twist on the sticky notes concept, with a nice minimal approach to design and some clever feature ideas.

Each note provides three layers of information: a rich text box, a drawing canvas and an alarm clock. All three layers can be used simultaneously, and the text and drawing layers make themselves semi-transparent so that both are visible when used together.

The timer feature comes in very useful. Each note's timer can be as long as 31 days, 23 hours and 60 minutes, giving you plenty of scope for procrastination. The interface is well designed, too: set a timer simply by dragging three numbered columns (days, hours, and minutes) up and down. It would be nice if a keyboard shortcut were available to speed this up, or a text box in which you could type '3pm tomorrow', but these refinements can probably wait for future releases.

SketchBox's drawing function supports pressure-sensitive tablets, making the program doubly interesting for artists and graphics professionals who are trying to empty their mind of ideas. The drawing tools are nothing to shout about, but that's the point: SketchBox is designed to keep things simple.

There are a few inconsistencies, though. A note left on the desktop when you quit the application will not be there when you re-start it (it reappears inside the main SketchBox window instead). Alarms will sound only if you keep SketchBox running, but timers will continue to function after you have quit the program.

We had some difficulty getting SketchBox to display different colours for the font and the note's background, leading to some text disappearing. We had also hoped to be able to drag drawings into other applications, but only manual Copy and Paste seemed to work - and even then, we had to open the note first.

However, these are only minor problems with what is otherwise a nice little note-taking application. SketchBox's search facility has been implemented especially nicely, but the addition of per-note timers is what makes this application stand out from its peers.

As most note-takers and snippet-keepers try to add more features and make themselves more complicated, the simplicity that SketchBox offers makes a refreshing change.

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