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Livescribe smart pen 3

I have to say, I had never heard of this device. It popped onto my radar because I tripped over it. I had no idea it exists. Which is amusing because I have been searching for better and better ways to take digital notes. I’ve spent a ton of time and money on tablet to do just that. So when I saw this I was curious. I wonder over the years how much money and time I have spent doing nothing more than satisfying a curiosity 🙂 I think it’s part of my personality. I love to learn.

So what is this thing? It is pen that when you write on special paper it saves what you write. This can then be uploaded through bluetooth to your phone and into their own app called Livescribe+. You can do the upload offline, or live. I have not been able to tell just how much memory it actually has (ie how much offline you can do), however their website says it has storage for thousands of pages. There are other versions of this pen that use USB or WIFI.

So let’s get started. The pen comes with a safety cover for the end of the pen. Sadly this will likely get easily lost, not sure if they intend this for shipping only. I’ll probably look around or a case to protect the pen in the pocket.

The first thing you need to do is charge it up. On the one end of the pen is the pen tip itself which houses a regular ball point pen that uses real ink. This ink cartridge can be easily removed and there are blue and red ink for it readily available on Amazon etc. I see no way of knowing the amount of ink left in the cartridge. And if you run out of ink your dead …

Livescribe-3-smartpen

On the other end of the pen is a capacitive pen tip you can use on almost any smartphone/tablet. Hiding under this is a microUSB charging port, it uses a rechargeable battery. This is a brilliant design rather than use some kind of proprietary plug.

In the middle of pen is a twist ring that brings the ink out for use and turns the pen on. There’s an LED on the pen that tells you the status. There’s even a beep to tell you it’s ready to go.

There’s the usual pen clip on the top for holding it in your pocket, but it is not that firm so I wouldn’t trust it. Also the pen is longer than most.

If there is a complaint, I wish they had made the bottom of the pen where you hold it less slippery. Say use the same knurling they did on the twist. And I wish they had included a cover for the end. Putting it in my pocket could end up with lint obscuring the lens.

All in all the pen is a touch on the chubby side, but weight is fine and not really noticeable. I do wonder how robust this pen will be to dropping. And given how expensive it is to replace, loosing it is going to make me cry 😦 $250 in Amazon.

Ok so we are all charged up and ready to go. Load up the Livescribe app on your phone/tablet and your ready to roll. The pen can pair with up to 4 phones/tablets, but it might be a bit of a challenge to see which device gets the pen if all are on.

On first start the Livescribe app will ask if you want to pair with a pen. It goes out and searches for the pen and adds it. In my case it found a firware update and proceeded to install it. It took a number of tries to complete, not sure why.

Clicking on the pen from within the app gives you everything you might ever want to know. You can see firmware, check for updates, see the battery status, and even help you find the pen by having it buzz (assuming it’s in range). You can even manually unpair one of the 4 devices in memory. All in all well done and thorough.
IMG_1336IMG_1337

I had a bit of difficulty getting the pen to quickly move between devices (an Iphone 6 and an iPad mini 2). Sometimes the only way I could get it to move was to turn off bluetooth.

Each device you setup (for example a phone/tablet) is setup separately. All settings have to be redone for each device. This includes setting up your cloud services. Livescribe can send notes out to Evernote and Onenote. These can be setup to happen manually or automatically. There is a LiveScribe account but from what I see there’s no link between the Livescribe app and the Livescibe web site. There does not seem to be a Livescribe portal where the docs are stored. I did eventually see a notebook from one device appear on the other when the pen connected. I almost wonder if the pen storage is how that happened. The lack of a Livescribe portal does make the option to send it off to Evernote or OneNote as a way of keeping this cross platform and always available. Exporting to Evernote and Onenote can be done in one of two ways as an embedded PDF (this seems useless to me) or as a image per page. The image includes the background of the paper. Once in OneNote it can not be edited (except by graphic editors). Handwriting recognition would seem to be further complicated once in OneNote.

It’s worth noting that since the pen seems to keep everything in it’s storage, you may need to be concerned with security if what you are writing is confidential. There is a way to set a PIN for the pen but PINs are kinda limited as far as security goes.

Paper wise you can buy a variety of sizes from Livescribe, or print your own. I did try the print your own and it works fine. Another link to print your own.

I was surprised to see that the notebook from livescribe didn’t include a loop to put the pen in. Seemed like an obvious thing to do …

One of the things you won’t be able to use it for would be to jot notes down on an existing document.

The output is probably the smoothest digitization of handwriting I have seen to date. I don’t however see anyway to erase what has been written, but then that’s no different that writing in ink.

All in all the pen is quite impressive and works well. If you do hand written notes then this might be the gadget of your dreams! The need for special paper is limiting, but also probably one of the reason it works as well as it does!

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August 11, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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