Tablet gaming is a big part of the new hotness. With the advent of the iPad, smart devices, and board games as apps—some might say our cardboard hobby is going through an evolution. The Betabook is another step towards tablet related gaming—but fortunate for us purists, it’s a 100% analog experience.
As a simple whiteboard it is literally a blank canvas. For those creatively inclined I could end this review right now—your mind is already racing with the possibilities of a portable whiteboard in your game night bag.
Betabook is what you make of it—literally. When I first heard of this product my mind ran wild with possible applications: life-point tracking, keeping score, taking notes, sketching strategies, tallying wins and losses, leaderboards, and on and on.
Then I got my hands on one. Now I can see an augmented game board, a DM screen with notes, and every paper and pencil game ever conceived. Definitely a blank canvas.
Lets get into some product specifics. The product itself was launched via Kickstarter, something our gaming culture has grown more and more accustom too. The Betabook comes in the form of a notebook with an elastic enclosure, a lot like a traditional Moleksine notebook. It’s available in two models, the Betabook (opens to A4 size – roughly 8″ x 11″) and the Betabook Pro (opens to A3 size – roughly 11″ x 16″). Any Betabook you get comes with a whiteboard marker and fleece eraser cloth.
The whiteboard material itself is the key to the product, a specially produced plastic that feels really nice to work on and is just the right amount of matte finish to avoid that annoying glare you might usually experience with a traditional whiteboard.
A nice added feature is the ability to store the markers and eraser in the spine of the book without fear of falling out. The book itself is sized just right—and in combination with the elastic enclosure, the markers and eraser are ready to go.
I’ve found the A4 model to be a perfect on-the-go accessory for game night. It’s nice and compact, folds out into a standard sheet of paper size, and doesn’t get in the way. The A3 model, by way of simply being double the size, opens an entirely new world of possibilities.
I’ve toyed with the idea of sketching out a dungeon, gridding an area for “paper and pencil” games, and using its form (in addition to its function) as a player shield to hide notes during an RPG session or secret role game. Perhaps the most fun I’ve had with the Betabook is using its blank canvas status as a means to prototype my own gaming ideas. I’ve enjoyed taking some of my old miniature figures and gridding out some custom scenarios or messing around with my own made-up game mechanics.
As a huge step above a notebook, the Betabook has founds its way into my game bag as the perfect analog “tech” for my analog hobby. It is more than a scoreboard—the possibilities are endless.
Don’t forget to check out our interview with the CEO of Betabook!
Betabook provided The Gamer Nerd with review copies of these products.
Checkout their website for more details.