The magic of the Livescribe smartpen
Published: Monday, November 29, 2010
Updated: Tuesday, November 30, 2010 10:11
Studying for finals is hard enough without also struggling to decipher the notes that now resemble hieroglyphics. With the Livescribe smartpen, illegible notes are a thing of the past.
Livescribe smartpens are gadgets that record the audio of your lecture and connect it to your written notes. While you're writing, your smartpen links everything you hear to everything you write. By tapping a particular line in your notes with the tip of the smartpen the corresponding lecture will play. According to the Livescribe website, you can "enjoy the feel of pen on paper while capturing that brilliant idea, rough sketch or even adding a personal touch to your emails."
The smartpen can also transcribe your written notes into a word document by plugging it into a computer's USB port. Everything you have both written and drawn on the pen's dot paper will upload. Notes and audio can even be made into interactive movies to share with friends. For example, if a student drew a piano on their paper, it would become interactive and the keys could be played.
Student Tina Gallegos purchased a Livescribe pen as a birthday gift for herself, and uses it every day in her classes, tapping the page to record bits of lecture that she wants to be able to recall verbatim. It's nice, she says, because sometimes she writes too slowly catch every nuance - but now, her pen does that for her.
Livescribe currently offers two smartpens: the Pulse and the Echo. The Pulse smartpen has 2GB of memory and can hold over 200 hours of audio. The Echo smartpen, which is available with either 4GB or 8GB of memory, holds at least twice as many hours of audio than the Pulse. To use any smartpen, users must have a Mac or Windows operating system. Mac users need an Intel Mac with OS X 10.5.5 or newer, and Windows users need Windows XP with SP3, Windows Vista or Windows 7.
Livescribe smartpens are not cheap and are offered at Livescribe's online store. A new Pulse is $129.95. New 4GB and 8GB Echoes are $169.95 and $199.95.
Refurbished smartpens are occasionally available online for a fraction of the cost. A Livescribe smartpen may pay for itself over time if a student finds the smartpen helpful, but costs do not end with the smartpen itself.
Livescribe smartpens only write on special dot paper. While a notebook full of dot paper is provided with every smartpen purchase, additional 150 page notebooks cost about $8 each, depending on the number of pages or sections provided.
Additionally, smartpens only use special ink cartridges. Again, some are provided with a smartpen purchase, but an extra pack of 5 ink cartridges costs almost $6. These costs can quickly pile up for a college student.
Livescribe smartpens are available online at Livescribe's website at http://www.livescribe.com. They are also sold on Amazon.com and at Best Buy, Target, the Apple Store, Brookstone and Staples.