InPlay announces battery free MagicPoint 820 digital pen


Inplay_penAlthough this announcement is really geared towards Tablet PC OEM’s (Original Equipment Manufacturers), it grabbed my attention by explaining a little more how both passive and active digitizers work on Tablet PCs. InPlay’s subsidiary, FinePoint Innovations, has a new battery-free digital pen, the MP820, that uses RF technology to interact with the display. The full press release is after the jump, but if you’ve ever wondered how digital pen technology works with display screens, FinePoint has a solid overview here along with some additional details on their prior model, the MP800.

InPlay’s FinePoint Subsidiary Launches Battery-Free Computing Pen TechnologyExpands Product Line to Offer OEMs Choice of Self-Powered or Tablet-Powered Pen  (April 20, 2006)

PHOENIX, April 20

— InPlay Technologies (Nasdaq: NPLA) announcedtoday that its FinePoint Innovations subsidiary has expanded itsproduct line with the introduction of a patent-pending, battery-freecomputing pen system. Like FinePoint’s self-powered pen technology, thenew MagicPoint(R) 820 pen is a cordless, active RF digital pen versusthe analog pen used with most pen computing systems in the tablet PC market today. 

    "The addition of the MagicPoint(R) 820 to our product line gives us a battery-free pen solution that the large tablet PC OEMs are accustomed to, and gives them the advantages of our Digital Signal Stream technology," said Stephen Caldwell, president, FinePoint Innovations. 

    "We see MagicPoint(R) digital signaling for tablet PCpen input as an enabling technology, much like the shift in cell phonesfrom analog to digital. Digital signaling opens doors for hardware andsoftware developers, as well as offering expanded security options,"added Bob Brilon, CEO, InPlay Technologies.

    The MagicPoint(R) system consists of a digitizer behind the LCDand digital writing pen. The MagicPoint(R) 820 digitizer powers thepen. This patent-pending technology is different than otherdigitizer-powered analog signal pen products in the market.

  The MagicPoint(R) 820 is designed and engineered to optimize powerconsumption while maintaining high accuracy, high resolution and lownoise performance. 

"The MagicPoint(R) 820 is the next step inFinePoint’s Digital Signal Stream pen technology roadmap. With ourtechnology, we enable a variety of unique pen features, offeringproduct differentiation to computer OEMs and increased functionalityfor end-users," Caldwell added.

  FinePoint designs, developsand commercializes innovative pen-input solutions for builders oftablet PCs, computer peripheral products, POS terminals and kiosks. ItsMagicPoint(R) technology enables very low power consumption of the notebookbattery, and superior performance by using a digital RF communicationpath. Digital Stream Signaling offers greater accuracy and truepen-on-paper look and feel. OEMs also benefit with the ability tocustom configure pen solutions, and a limitless digital technologyroadmap for future feature enhancements. More information onMagicPoint(R) solutions can be found at   

    About InPlay Technologies

  InPlay Technologies markets and licenses proprietary emergingtechnologies. The company was founded to commercialize its internallydeveloped Duraswitch electronic switch technologies and has executedlicense agreements with switch manufacturers and OEMs worldwide. Today,Duraswitch patented technologies are in the controls of a wide range ofcommercial and industrial applications. InPlay expanded its portfolioof technologies with the acquisition of FinePoint Innovations, adeveloper of pen computing products for tablet PCs and computerperipherals. FinePoint’s digital solution is the computing pen anddigitizer for a major computer OEM’s newly launched line of convertiblenotebooks. Visit for more information.   

SOURCE  InPlay Technologies


All About the Patents

Dr. Z appears to be unaware that Wacom holds patents which give it a monopoly on batteryless technology. All other digitizer manufacturers are therefore forced to avoid the patent by using batteries, or to pay Wacom a boatload of money. (Right now there’s a patent-infringement suit going on with a company in China that makes a batteryless stylus.)

Tim Evans likewise seems to chalk up Wacom competitors’ deficiencies to incompetence rather than patent protection. Isn’t it a coincidence that not only Finepoint, but also Adesso, and the other small tablet makers, all lack tilt and eraser? For years, Adesso has been blasted in reviews for not having an eraser. Why do you think they still haven’t done it?


Good for that company, but not really special or newsworthy. Wacom has had battery-less stylus for a while now; the last digitizer I’ve seen that used a battery is the now defunct HP TC1000.

tim evans

I just bought a refurbished Gateway, and it appears to me that FinePoint does NOT support pen tilt. It does not even support pressure sensitivity, as far as I see. And it doesn’t have an eraser. FinePoint seems FAR inferior to Wacom from what I see. I am considering returning the Gateway.


The timing of the press releases of the Gateway annoucement of a dual core tablet PC and the FinePoint MagicPoint 820 both were on the same day – April 20. I’ve not called Gateway to inquire, but it stands to reason that they may have refreshed their digitizer up to the MagicPoint 820.

As someone who is on the brink of ordering a tablet, I am a little surprised to not find much in the way of a review or breakdown of the FinePoint’s digitizer versus a tablet that uses a Wacom. I would love such a thing. All I’ve found are some rather generic table comparisons. Does the FirePoint support pen tilt? Does MagicPoint 820 solve the eraser not being on the pen? How does it compare to a Wacom in its tracking and accuracy?

I love the widescreen tablet idea. But now I’m scouring the net for any details on the next Tecra dual core tablet, which I’ve found almost nothing on. The new dual core Tecra notebook is widescreen but only shared video, not dedicated. The Gateway is attractive, even with only having 64MB of RAM for video. I’d love to crack it open and see if it could be upgraded higher. But the digitizer choice they made is, IMHO, not a good one, and until I see something that shows me its on par with Wacom or at least its feature set, then I cannot but into it.


No, it works on FinePoint digitizers only, which right now is what the Gateway Convertible Notebooks use. The current FinePoint pens have a battery to make them work, this announcement is pointing out they now have a battery-free version.


I’m glad to see that Finepoint isn’t dead. I have the Gateway Convertible Notebook and have always been bummed about the battery in the pen. The battery-free stylus is a good announcement, even though I assume that it’s not compatible with current Finepoint digitizer technology :-(

If Finepoint releases the long-rumored drivers with PS-compatibility in Photoshop and other programs and could work out a way to get an eraser top on the pen (or at least another button on the barrel that toggles an erase function), they could possibly start cutting into Wacom’s dominance. Competition is always good and helps keeps the frontrunner on its toes…

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