Livescribe’s smartpens are very useful tools for those who take notes or like to draw but don’t like having to take their notebooks all around with them. The Echo smartpen records both voice and the actual notes or drawings. It works with special paper that you can find online at Amazon.com or Livescribe.com. This pen is great for people in school or people at work.
What does it do?
This pen is great for using with lectures or presentations. The pen can record all of your notes while recording the speaker’s voice at the same time. It can actually sync the notes and voice together so that later, if you want to hear the person that was speaking, you can actually click anywhere on the notes and the voice will play back from that moment. So if I wrote “hi” while the speaker was saying “hello”, I can go back to my notes, click on the word “hi”, and I’ll hear the person that said “hello” through the pen’s speaker. This tool is very useful to me because I use it often in class.
How much is it?
The pen isn’t necessarily cheap at all. The starting price, which is for the 2GB version, is $119.99. The 4GB version is $149.99 and the 8GB non-pro pack is $179.99. If you decide to get the 8GB Pro Pack the cost is $229.99 and you get a smartpen portfolio, a 3-D recording premium headset, and a download for the full version of MyScript, the transcription software for Livescribe. However, Livescribe does offer a refurbished pen for $69.99 for the 2GB version. So, the price would be a disadvantage because it is quite expensive for a pen.
What can it do for me?
I have used the smartpen numerous times in class to record everything I write. It works well with the Pencast Player app on Apple devices to view notes and/or listen to lectures and presentations on the go. Otherwise, it’s easy to view the notes on a computer or laptop, which I also often do. The pen can also record pictures that you draw which is nice for anyone who might want to have graphs and picture examples on their computers for studying.
How long does it last?
The Livescribe website doesn’t say what the battery life of the pen is but personally, I’ve been able to use it for multiple days in class without it running out of battery. The 2GB version is supposedly (according to the website) get over 200 hours of recording time. The 4GB is supposed to be over 400 hours and the 8GB is supposed to be over 800 hours of recording time. I’ve never had to empty my smartpen’s memory and I have the 4GB version so the 4GB is plenty for normal useage.
What about apps?
The smartpen does have a few apps including the piano app that’s already installed when you get it. The piano app allows a user to draw a piano and use it with different instruments just for fun. However, there are some actual useful apps including translators and dictionaries. Another app that’s already installed is the calculator app that works with the printed scientific calculator on the insides of the covers of each Livescribe notebook.
The Bottom Line
As you can see, the Livescribe pens are very useful and do what they’re supposed to do. I find them to help me a lot with studying class material and listening to lectures. The price isn’t great but this is the only thing out on the market that does what it does. It’s not useful for everyone but if it seems like it would be to you, I’d recommend giving it a try.