posts - 81, comments - 262, trackbacks - 0

SmartPen by LiveScribe

Few gadgets actually change my life. I have used PDAs in the past, but they were eventually neglected and never replaced. I have owned a Tablet PC, which ended up being used just like a laptop; so much so, I replaced it with a laptop later. I finally bought an iPod just this year, but it too it seems is going to be neglected and unused. The SmartPen by LiveScribe is different.


The SmartPen is aptly named, for it can be used just like a pen with additional features. The features are quite extensive, from the expected digitizing of written material to on paper translation and piano keyboards. While the later features are more for show, there are several features which have completely changed how I do things at work and school.

  • Audio Recording: The audio is recorded and 'linked' to the written material. At a latter point the audio linked to the writing can be played by 'double clicking' the content. Great for reviewing meetings and class notes.
  • Computer Synchronization: The content of the pen synchronizes with the computer by USB with a handy magnetically assisted cradle. The benefit is that the application can search your writing for phrases rather accurately. This is invaluable when doing open note assignments and tests. Some other benefits with the program are the ability to export pages as images and share the notes online through their hosted services.
  • Math: The pen does an excellent job at recording notes containing math. This is an area where the tablet PC seriously struggled.

There are a few nuances as is the case with perhaps every gadget.

  • Ink: I go through an ink cartridge every two and half weeks by just taking notes in courses (15 hours). The ink is not terribly expensive however.
  • Printing Custom Sheets: The program crashes when printing your own 'special' paper. To work around this I had to manually grab the PostScript files from the app and use an open source PostScript printing application. This problem was repeatable across other machines.
  • Deleting Pages: This was a surprise… You can't delete pages. You can delete a whole notebook though… So be careful what you write (Or what others write when testing it thinking they are funny… thanks Sean).
  • Exporting Content: There are two ways to share notes. One is to 'copy' the page as an image, but of course the audio is lost. The notes with the audio can be published, but only through the LiveScribe service. I would like to host the notes myself.

While using the pen, a few ideas have sprung to mind which I would really like to see in the next revision.

  • Dot Matrix Overlay: It would be great to be able to print documents through a LiveScribe service that simultaneously overlaid the print request with the dot matrix, and imported the template into the application. This way the pen could be used in drafting say reports. It should be technically feasible as PrimoPDF demonstrates.

Print | posted on Friday, February 13, 2009 9:54 PM |

Powered by:
Powered By Subtext Powered By ASP.NET