Genuine Curiosity

Author Dwayne Melancon is always on the lookout for new things to learn. An ecclectic collection of postings on personal productivity, travel, good books, gadgets, leadership & management, and many other things.


My Livescribe SmartPen, 2 years later


A couple of years ago, I reviewed the LiveScribe Pulse Smartpen.  The other day, someone asked me how I like it - and specifically, how well it integrates with Evernote (which I'm always talking about, it seems).

I figured this would be a good time to provide an update on how I'm using the LiveScribe Smartpen.  First, I now have the newer model now called the Livescribe Echo Smartpen.  More storage, a bit less bulky.

LiveScribe Echo Smartpen

Yes, I still use the LiveScribe, but not all the time.  Bottom line?  I have a love/hate relationship with it.

Why I Love the Livescribe Echo Smartpen:

  • The Evernote desktop client has very clean integration with Evernote (there is a button in the LiveScribe UI that uploads the selected page automatically as a new note that becomes OCR-able).
  • The Livescribe Smartpen is absolutely great for capturing notes and diagrams – it helps me to write, as writing helps me retain things better.  I'm very visual so keeping a record of my diagrams as I captured them is terrific.
  • The Livescribe Smartpen's audio capture is also very handy – I can write a keyword, record, and concentrate on the conversation more fully, knowing I can go back and re-listen to all the details.
  • The ability to share animated diagrams with voice annotation via their portal is way cool – though I've only done it a couple of times.  I posted an example of a recorded LiveScribe session in my last review, if you're curious.
  • There is some nice built-in OCR-ish search function in the LiveScribe client software.
  • The Livescribe Smartpen has really good battery life.
  • Notebooks and pen refills are reasonably priced and available at Target or Amazon.

Why I Hate the Livescribe Echo Smartpen:

  • The Smartpen is a bit too bulky (not so comfortable to write with for extended periods).
  • The Smartpen has no reasonable way to attach to anything – that makes it a pain to carry around.  They sell a funky little carrier case for it but I can't stand it.
  • I have to remember to recharge it, and it uses a microUSB cable – which I don't have many of at the moment.
  • I have to remember to synch it (though it does store a lot of notes – I've never filled the pen up).
  • It wasn't cheap so I feel guilty that I don't use it more often than I do.

So, that's my candid update on the Livescribe Echo Smartpen.  It is great if you take a lot of notes and want to search them, tremendous if you interview a lot of people in situations where you need very accurate recall, and it works well with both Mac and Windows.

Does your actual mileage vary from mine?  If so, I'd love to hear your opinion on this gadget.