When my parents asked me what I wanted for Christmas this year I wasn’t sure how to answer. Of course clothes are always an option (especially at this age), but it’s nice for both parties if you can think of something unique. The internet is always a good resource for me to find the latest gadgets, so I began shopping around. Eventually I came across a product called a smartpen. I can’t say the idea of a smartpen was anything new to me; I remember reading about a device that would digitize what you wrote on paper and thinking it sounded pretty cool. However, at the time I didn’t really see it becoming something that I would use often enough to make it worth the money. Desperate for gift ideas, I decided I would give the smartpen idea another chance. I did some research and in a short time realized that the smartpen had made great technological strides since they were first introduced. Specifically, a company called Livescribe had created a very nice smartpen that did much more than just digitize handwritten notes.
The Echo Smartpen by Livescribe is essentially every college student’s dream. Simply remember to tap the record button with the pen at the start of any lecture in order to end the period with a lot more than just the fading memories of what the professor said. The smartpen will provide a physical copy of any notes, a very clear digital copy of the same notes, and an audio recording of the lecture that is synchronized with what was written. It is the perfect solution to confusing course material or those “off days” that everyone experiences one in a while (or perhaps more frequently for some people). Thanks to the synchronized audio recording, reliving the lecture is as simple as tapping the pen on any part of the notes. Suddenly the audio that was recorded during the time those notes were taken will begin to play from the pen’s speaker. It is truly amazing! Plug the pen into the computer for even more options, a few of which include backing up, organizing, and sharing the notes and recordings. Plus I haven’t even mentioned the variety of smartpen applications being written every day, turning your smartpen into anything from a ruler to a calculator to a piano. The possibilities are endless!
It should be noted that this smartpen requires special paper in order to record what is written, but that’s not as much of a drawback as one may initially think. I was able to purchase four 100-sheet 8″ x 10″ notebooks (200 digital pages when both sides are used) for $20. Other sizes are also available, but $5 per notebook isn’t outrageously expensive in my opinion. It is also possible to print Livescribe notebook pages from the computer, but usually that requires a laser printer. I have also read that the ink cartridges run out more quickly than one would expect, but five refills only cost $5.
Overall I highly recommend the Echo Smartpen. It’s well-designed, feature packed, and invaluably useful. Used to its potential, I think this pen could easily make grades in any class higher. Even if grades aren’t a concern this pen will still making studying and reviewing easier and more comprehensive than ever.
Do you have a smartpen from Livescribe? What about a smartpen from another manufacturer? If so, please leave a comment below and let me know how you like it. Interested in buying a smartpen now? Feel free to ask me questions in a comment as well.
A sample of my digitized notes from my MATH 230 lecture.