Livescribe Smartpen — A review

You know sometimes something comes along that makes you scream “OH MY GOD I HAVE TO HAVE THAT” and you get that tingly feeling on the back of you neck when you try it out?  Well that is what happened to me with the Livescribe smartpen.


 It is a concept so simple, yet so brilliant, I kind of wish I had thought of it myself.

And if you are helping teens prepare for heading off to uni next week, or sending them back to school, this piece of kit should be on the “must have” list and the first thing in their shiny new pencil case.

In a nutshell it is a pen that allows you to send all the notes you make, wirelessly having paired it with your smart phone or tablet.  So if  you are like me, and make lists at home and then get out and realise you have forgotten the list, you can panic no more.   The list will be on your smartphone.

See I told you it was genius.

Now imagine that for a student.   They make their notes in the lecture and then send it to themselves right there in the lecture room.   No more chances to say “the dog ate my homework”.    By going to Livescribe Desktop any recordings made on the pen can be stored as PDFs, and are completely searchable too.   And if your handwriting is illegible as mine you can download an extra piece of software (for a fee) that allows you to convert your handwriting to text.

You can also link it to more than one computer should you need to.

The Echo Smartpen is charged up simply by a USB cable that comes supplied in the box, and each charge lasts days, if not weeks, but gives around 12 hours of solid writing so is more than enough to get the most conscientious of student through the day.

Not only that it also records sounds, so could record everything the tutor says in the lecture too.   So for any student who can’t quite keep up with all the lecturer is saying during a lesson, of if they just want to double check something, this is invaluable, surely?

 It comes supplied with “dot paper” which the pen some how recognises (dont ask me how) and so if you want to just capture written notes you simply turn it on and start writing.  If you want it to record sound too you tap the record button and it does the rest.    Then when you get home and want to add something else you can simply play back the audio and begin writing again.  This links your new notes to the existing audio.

There is a (very American) video here that demonstrates much more clearly than I am, just how it works

It’s available to buy online from around £130


I was sent a Livescribe pen free of charge in exchange for this review.  

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  • I talked to Livescribe at BritMums and I was very interested in how it maybe able to help with my diary. I’ve written them for 25 years and all that writing is still in the original notebook and and I wondered if the Livescribe pen would help me get my writing in an electronic format going forward. But I suspect they don’t have small page a day diaries in their range.

    The video is very interesting, I hadn’t thought the pen could be used to capture things like appointment. It could be a great solution to all the notes I capture on paper and then have to remember to move to the correct location. Have you found it useful?