Bonzer Wolf™ (bonzerwolf) wrote,
Bonzer Wolf™

Livescribe Pulse Smartpen Review

The Livescribe is the real deal. It actually does what it says it can do. And it does it simply.  The Smartpen works. And I'm not being hyperbolic when I say this might revolutionize note taking.

I absolutely loved this pen from the first time I used it:

1) It was easy to use right out of the box
2) Software installed easily.
3) Audio recording quality was good
4) When I docked the pen, the notes that I had taken loaded flawlessly into the software and looked just like a scanned page
5) The character recognition is great and you can search for words or phrases in your notes via the software. It doesn't convert your handwriting to typed text, but there is additional software that can be purchased for about $30 that can.

The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen is one of those wonderfully clever implementations of technology that give rise to thoughts like "what won't they think of next?".

The Pulse has the heft and weight of an old fashioned fountain pen. As you write with the ballpoint pen, a small camera just below it is imaging your writing. An audio recorder is also recording what is being said, whether it is you speaking, a lecturer or someone else. Included for large room situations, such as lecture halls is a headset that incorporates microphones as well. Livescribe includes a fastener so you can have the earpiece/microphones dangle from your neck when you don't want the buds in your ears.

The paper you write on is special and obtainable from Livescribe. You can also print your own paper with the pattern of invisible microdots that make the  Pulse Smartpen "work".

Using controls visible in the bright, easily readable screen on the pen, printed on the bottom of each page and on the inside front cover, you can control every aspect of the Pulse Smartpen's operation.  Printed on the inside front covers are a calculator and a keyboard, which you use by simply tapping the Pulse on the desired keys. Some of the controls are also available on the inside back cover. These controls are very cool and clever. There are also additional sets of controls on a self-adhesive sheet, that you can affix anywhere you please.

With the Smartpen, there is both an audio and visual record to accompany your written notes. You can play back the audio on the pen itself using its Menu function. The Pulse has a surprisingly loud speaker. Ear buds also come with the pen.  The real power of the Pulse Smartpen is the included Windows software.

When you have the Livescribe program running and set the Pulse Smartpen in its attached USB cradle, your notes are automtically transferred to your computer and appear as "pages" in the Livescribe application. Hit the play button and your written and spoken words are recognized. Now you can search your handwritten notes for any specific word.

Watching this happen is definitely a "wow" moment. The Pulse would be a major asset to anyone who takes written notes and requires them to be accurate. You have both your handwritten jottings and the audio. Reporters, students, lawyers, law enforcement officers & investigators are just a few of the people who can benefit from the Pulse Smartpen.  This is a must for Gadget Guys.

The 2GB model is said to be capable of holding 200 hours of audio. The 1GB model about half that. The special tablets are available in both standard 8.5 x 11 and journal 5.6 x 8.5 inch sizes, lined and unlined. The non-removable lithium-ion battery fully charges through the supplied USB cradle in about two hours. I don't know how long a charge will hold out, but I suspect your wrist would be very tired by the time it does.

The Pulse Smartpen does not have a cap.  A slip-in case and Blue Notebook  #1 comes with the pen.

The only drawback I've discovered so far is that the software and pen combination are tethered to one computer. This is bad news for anyone with a desktop in the office and a laptop.

Here are two good reasons why you need to purchase a Pulse Smartpen. First, the technology is totally cool. The second is that the Pulse will really be a boon to people who engage in extensive notetaking, particularly if audio accompanies the notes.

Overall, the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen is, for the appropriate audience, a very useful device - and a great demonstration of technology at work for a reasonable price of $150.

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