Livescribe Connect: Skywriting with cloud-connected smartpens

I sometimes feel like I’ve seen too much. Endless product demos makes it hard for technology to really wow me. I still remember how I felt when I first saw Wii Tennis, the original iPhone or Microsoft’s surface table. A genuine feeling of “wow I’m living in the future”. After the endless parade of touchscreen tablets and smartphones over the past few months it’s genuinely refreshing to see a product demo that makes my jaw drop.


Livescribe Connect was one such demo. I’ve previously and foolishly written off (pun only half intended) smartpens as overpriced pens with tape recorders built inside. Livescribe Connect however, expands this computer-in-a-pen concept, freeing your handwritten notes and spoke information and releasing them into “the cloud”.

It does this through “connectors” which share your notes in a variety of interesting ways. Simply use the smart link on your notebook (make a sort of double line) and Email your note, send it to Google Docs, Evernote or Facebook. So you can make a doodle, quip or note of some sort, circle it and then have it upload to Facebook the next time you connect your pen to your laptop.

You can make a pencast PDF (using Acrobat X), send to iOS devices such as iPads via an app, and store your notes online in your 500 MB of included storage space.

Like all good things made in the modern age, the Livescribe smartpens come with an app store with a range of software to further enhance your smartpen experience. You can link to Wikipedia entries, get automatic translations of words or draw and play a virtual piano (the virtual piano is a gimmick but one that completely blew my tiny little mind).

This is also coupled with the UK release of two new smartpens, the £99 Echo 2GB smartpen and the £149 Echo 4Gb smartpen.

I’ve tried out the smartpen in a Chinese class, where having all the explanation of grammar points alongside my notes, which were then beamed to my iPad was amazingly useful. I then used it to keep track of edit points during a podcast I was audio engineering – both of which were fantastically useful application.

The £99 entry point for the basic Echo smartpen seems fair and if you are a student furiously scribbling note or are taking memos in meetings – or just want to carry your notes in the cloud then I’d recommend taking a look at the Livescribe smartpen scene.

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