LiveScribe Sky WiFi smartpens: Joined up thinking

Sky-Wifi

We took a look at the LiveScribe smartpen range over a year ago and I think it’s still one of the most impressive gadgets I’ve had the pleasure of playing with. It’s one thing to innovate with phones, tablets and computers but brining cutting edge technology to something as old and basic as paper was at the time mind blowing. I actually use a LiveScribe pen in my day to day life, taking notes in writing meetings and language classes and can attest to the fact that they are indeed very useful and worth the price.

However, despite being incredibly futuristic, certain elements of the smartpen seemed old fashioned – namely having to plug the pen in and upload data via USB (although I appreciate that that’s pretty new in terms of technological advancements). And getting my notes on to my devices was slower than I would have liked. There was an app but the notebook-to-app path was less than ideal. Fortunately LiveScribe haven’t stood still and have just released the LiveScribe Sky.

The LiveScribe Sky makes smartpen’s smarter as the built-in wifi adds connectivity to your note taking. Logging on to a wifi network is surprisingly easy, and there are stickers you can add to existing notebooks if you have already have older versions of LiveScribe. The stickers let you scan for networks and add passwords with relative ease.

Use is pretty much the same as it was with previous versions of LiveScribe. Simply hit record on the special notebooks and all everything you write and say will be recorded. There’s a sync now button on the special sticker sheet but this is normally done automatically in the background. Taking notes without internet access? That’s fine as the pen will just upload everything the moment you get back online.

The added layer of magic? LiveScribe will now automatically sync with Evernote so all your notes can be uploaded to The Cloud and are available on a range of devices. Evernote are pretty device agnostic so you should have access to your musings on most smartphones and tablets – as well as laptop and desktop PCs.

In practice this works pretty well – although it can sometimes take a little while for notes to appear in Evernote (and it’s doing a lot of work in the background so I probably should be a little less impatient. Having app-based access to notes is great and you can share from Evernote to platforms such as Facebook and Twitter so you can even make fun little pencasts. If you are a casual scribe this is not the pen for you but it you take a lot of notes then you should definitely take a look.

For more info www.livescribe.com

Back to School: 5 Must-Have Student Gadgets

Summer might still be hanging around, but it’s not long until the days will start to cool off again, and students will be back at college or university. If you’re hitting the books this autumn, or you know someone who is, here is a list of 5 must-have gadgets that will help you through the academic year ahead.

Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Noise-cancelling headphones used to be the territory of the gadget elite, but market competition and cheaper technology has made them a popular choice among the general population too. If you have a long commute to university, or simply need to block out the sound of noisy flatmates, noise-cancelling headphones like the Audio Technica ATH-ANC7b QuietPoint® Active Noise-cancelling Headphones are a sturdy, budget choice. Noise-cancelling headphones start at around £25, but the cheaper versions can vary in quality. Audio Technica’s headphones retail for around £70.

iPad

The Apple iPad has become a must-have accessory for students and professionals alike. There isn’t much you can’t do on an iPad, and its portability makes it perfect for reading, writing and browsing online. You can also purchase a wide range of apps through the Apple Store to enhance your studies – and make the most out of your down time. The new iPad starts at £399, or £499 with built-in 3G capabilities.

HP All-In-One Printer Scanner

Save multiple trips to the library and spare change on photocopying with an all-in-one printer and scanner, like the HP Deskjet 3050A. Scan and copy pages, and enjoy the convenience of wireless and e-mail printing. The HP Deskjet 3050A’s e-printing capabilities means you can email documents from any device, including iPad, iPod Touch and smartphones. Despite its multi-purpose design, the printer is small enough to fit almost anywhere. The HP Deskject 3050A retails for £40.

Kensington Laptop Lock

The Kensington laptop lock slots into your computer, and enables you to attach your machine to a nearby table, pipe or similar sturdy object. The principle is similar to that of a bike lock, and it can prevent opportunistic theft of your most valuable items. Several variations of the Kensington lock are available. You can also purchase slot adapters to use with flat-screen monitors, docking stations, tablet PCs, printers, and any other compatible device. Locks start at around £14.99.

GadgetTrak

GadgetTrak isn’t technically a gadget in itself, but it will help protect your much-loved devices. You can install this software on your PC, Mac, iPhone, iPad, Blackberry or Android, and use it if your device gets stolen. Once installed, GadgetTrak will locate your device, and even sends you a photo of the thief. GadgetTrack have different products for iOS, other mobile devices and laptops. Protection starts at £2.50 for the iOS app.

Dell Inspiron 14x: The perfect companion for the lecture theatre?

When I was at college and university all note taking was achieved religiously with a pen and piece of paper. Although now, apparently, those antiquated days of scribbling a lecturer’s words in a notebook – a non-technological one that is – have been replaced by fervently tying those all-important words on a laptop. A laptop’s ‘note taking’ capabilities is a strategy taken by Dell as it markets its latest ‘thin and powerful computing – the Inspiron 14z, which, according to Dell is perfect for ‘taking notes in class’.

Dell-Inspiron

We assume that it is its ultra-thin and lightweight design and excellent battery life that makes it the perfect lecture theatre companion. It certainly promises to look the part in any style-conscious student’s study attire, as being available in standard Diamond Black or optical Fire Red LCD back and matching palm rest with a full-size Chiclet-style keyboard, certainly won’t evolve students’ reputations as being pitifully poor and living on pot noodles and pasta – Although with the obscenely high tuition fees soon to be enforced, we very much doubt that the Inspiron 14z will be a regular feature of the lecture theatre.

Internally, the Dell Inspiron 14x comes equipped with Microsoft Windows 7 operating system, high-performance on-processor graphics enabling for long battery life, and is available with ultra-fast Intel Core i processors.

Whether watching a movie or playing your favourite tunes, with an internal tray-load DVD combo for playing and recording DVDs and CDs, Dell’s latest Inspiron laptop promises to deliver quality and solid family entertainment.

Like all Dell Inspiron laptops, the 14x possesses the Dell Stage user interface, meaning users can access their favourite content, including video, music and photo libraries, in just one click, and with SyncUP powered by Nerco, you can keep content and personal information synched with other Stage-enabled Dell PCs and mobile devices within your home Wi-Fi network.

No details about the price of the Inspiron 14x have yet to be released, although being this ‘sleek, stylish and powerful’, we reckon Dell’s strategy on appealing as a great note taker in class will be falling upon deaf ears.