Review: Rocketbook Beacons
If you live on a whiteboard, the new $15 Rocketbook Beacons are a must-have. After Rocketbook sent me a set, it took me a while to test them. I no longer work in a world of whiteboards. I work from home and do most of my sketching on an iPad Pro with Noteshelf.
The Beacons prove a clever way for Rocketbook to leverage their software in a way that doesn’t compete against notetaking directly to Apple iPads or Samsung Galaxy Note products. While it has become commonplace to take a picture of whiteboards after a meeting, the Beacons along with the Rocketbook app (Google Play here) make that a much more systematic activity.
But the other night I guest lectured at the University of Washington and had an opportunity to use the Rocketbook Beacons and they worked as advertised.
The Rocketbook Beacon experience
But let me back up and explain the Beacons. The Rocketbook Beacons are bright orange (caution cone orange) plastic reusable stickers that fit on the corners of a whiteboard or any arbitrary section of one. The Beacons create the boundary for apps target area, the area captured and digitized.
Like any boundary-related product, the Rocketbook Beacons require that participants color in the lines. Nothing outside of the boundary gets captured. When you have a lot of people writing on a board and sticking Post-It notes up, you end up with an occasional jot outside of the prescribed area. Repositing Beacons help capture content outside the original parameters. Simply enclose more of the area (less easily done with Post-It notes on the edges of the whiteboard).
While the Rocketbook app picked up the area cleanly, the resulting scan wasn’t that useful. Unlike Rocketbook notebooks, which are meant for personal notes, and capture pretty small writing, Beacons require writing at scale. I had people jotting with a ballpoint pen on 3×3 Post-Its and that didn’t work. Write in a size functional to image capture at a distance. The examples in the Rocketbook Beacon video universally show large images and big letters.
You also need good light. I captured my experiment in low-light, and that combined with the small writing and dry pens (which created very light writing), didn’t translate into a useful image.
I also did a test with good light and intentionally large writing and that worked better. So while the Beacons do work, they work best under good conditions of light, fresh markers and sizable writing.
For collaboration and retention, captured whiteboards can be uploaded to a variety of cloud services or sent via e-mail.
Rocketbook Beacons and Snapcast
I did not test the Snapcast feature. Snapcast will likely find popularity among those who work in a distributed work environment. Put up the Beacons. Then set up a phone to either manually or automatically capture the capture area during a team meeting. It will likely work better if the phone is steadied on a tripod rather than propped against a book (or something).
I find that whiteboards end up mounted at varying heights and that the ability to prop something up to point precisely is easier if the variables of furniture and accessories are eliminated. Tripods with phone mounts are inexpensive. Those who plan to employ Snapcast should prepare to put their best whiteboard forward by eliminating variables. I carry markers and Post-It pads even to Europe to ensure that I can facilitate a meeting the way I want to—and to eliminate the time spent searching for supplies.
Rocketbook Beacons transform any whiteboard into a basic smartboard. $15 is a great value even if they don’t fit every situation. Anyone who facilitates meetings with whiteboards should have a set of Beacons in their bag.
Rocketbook provided a set of Beacons for review. Serious Insights may receive a small Amazon affiliate fee for purchases made through our website.