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Geek Squad BackPacks Commercial: Note Taking Software Isn’t Legit



As a professor who is constantly going back and telling students what I have already told them in a lecture I was excited to see the Geek Squad Backpack commercial, which shows a student taking notes with his computer’s built-in microphone, automatically transcribing the professor’s speech into text.

While I was looking for the software which would let students, “take notes while conserving energy,” instead of mashing on a keyboard like a two year old trying to pull up more Dora, I was disappointed to find out that Geek Squad is apparently doing the impossible.

The speech to text software being used by our long haired “master of the study group,” is Dragon Naturally Speaking. The software lets you dictate to your computer and even update social networks just by talking. The catch is, You need to train the software, use a high quality microphone and correct mistakes.

Geek Squad BackPacks Commercial: Speech to text features note as simulated as on screen images.

Unless Joe College was able to convince his professor to train the software and there is a hidden high end mic somewhere in this video we can’t see, or you get a Geek to come take your notes, Geek Squad get’s an F on this one.

Geek Squad Commercial - Note Taking Software

Geek Squad Commercial - Note Taking Software Can't Perform as Advertised.

Real Note Taking Tools

The bad news is that we don’t know of a speech to text tool that works as well as Best Buy claims their Geek Squad can install, but there are still better ways to take notes. Two favorites among my students are LiveScribe and Evernote.

Evernote is a free note taking application which works on your smartphone, tablet and notebook. You can type your notes, add pictures and record audio while the lecture is happening. The iPad or Android tablet version may be best suited for the classroom, but notebooks will work just as well.

LiveScribe is a pen that records audio as you write notes. This smartpen allows you to call up the audio just by tapping next to what you were writing a at the time. One of my student’s showed me his notes and audio taken with the pen and I was quite impressed with the ease of use and quality of the audio.

Other Geek Squad Commercial Tech

The good news is that the rest of the tech shown off in the commercial is legit, and you can get it without paying $99 a year for Geek Squad support. Here are the devices and technology included in the Geek Squad Backpack commercial.

  • Tablet – The tablet shown appears to be an HP Touchpad, which can get textbooks from the Kindle store. If you have an iPad, you can also get textbooks from numerous sources like CourseSmart, Amazon Kindle and more.
  • Projector – The projector is called a Pico Projector, and can be purchased for a few hundred dollars from Apple and other retailers with a direct connection to the iPad.
  • Stream to Your TV – If you purchase a computer with Intel Wireless Display 2.0, you can use a $99 adapter to wirelessly stream HD from your notebook to your HDTV. If you purchase a Blue Label 3.0 notebook, like the Toshiba Satellite E3o5, you get a free adapter.


Before you pay for tech support from Geek Squad, make sure you can’t get the support you need from your school. When you go for orientation, ask about tech support options. While some schools have cut free student tech support there are still many universities which will help you get your notebook fixed if something goes wrong.



  1. David Daugherty

    08/01/2011 at 2:51 pm

    OneNote will also record while writing your notes on a TabletPC. Of course no one uses TabletPCs anymore right :-^)

    Owner of an X61 and TC1100 TabletPC

  2. TabletWriter

    08/01/2011 at 3:12 pm

    And OneNote will alos allow you to record your notes while typing. Of course, everything is better on a TabletPC.

    Ownere of and X60 and TM2 TabletPC

  3. FlyingShawn

    08/01/2011 at 3:21 pm

    Really Josh, not even a mention of OneNote?  Just because real TabletPC’s aren’t the most popular right now (not that they ever were) doesn’t mean they aren’t a superior solution for this sort of application.  I’ve yet to come across any other platform/app combo nearly as functional as OneNote on a Win7 tablet.

    Sure, it won’t transcribe for you, but it has the “killer” feature of linking the audio recording timestamps to those of your notes, so you can click on a bit of ink/text and it’ll play back what was being said as you wrote that specific part.

    BTW, my Fujitsu Q550 is totally silent (fanless, so it won’t disturb the lecture), thin, light, inking works well, and the *replaceable* battery easily lasts through a day (~6-8hrs with the brightness turned down).  That, and it’s only $150 more than a (much more limited) 64GB iPad!

  4. Anonymous

    08/02/2011 at 2:15 am

    I used to take the power points from profs who made them available prior to lecture, print them as pdf and then mark them up in pdf markup software as they lectured.
    I had one prof who only posted them about 10 minutes before the lecture but I could still snag them and be ready to go by the time he was at the lectern.
    This was with my trusty hp tc4200.

    I hear/read about different note taking apps for ipad and am curious about them.  Particularly how they do with palm rejection while writing.  I don’t know if I could get my head around the smaller screen anyway to be honest.

    Love, love, love evernote – but don’t know that I would trust it for live note taking in a class as it can be occasionally glitchy.

    I used to use MS journal a lot to make study material with flashcard type stuff – alternating a pic on one page and the info for it on the next.  Totally responsible for my ‘A’s on both art history I and II finals I am sure.  Preferred it to onenote for the way it handled adding subtracting space and also for printing hard copies.

  5. guest

    08/05/2011 at 3:08 am

    As someone with recurring tendonitis I was very excited by the Geek Squad’s commercial. I am extremely disappointed to learn that they cheated and those of us with constant difficulty typing or holding pens are still going to have to suffer through our note taking.

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