Taking Notes with the Livescribe Echo Smartpen
Written By: Christine Texeira
At school, in meetings, or just jotting down thoughts in a journal–how often have you looked back at something you wrote and thought, “What does that mean?” Abbreviations or shorthand that makes sense in the moment, sometimes do not last through subsequent studying. There is a pen, however, that can actually help you remember exactly what you meant to remember. The Livescribe Echo Smartpen records not only what you’re writing, but whatever you might be hearing at the time.
Livescribe presents the second pen in their Smartpen series, the Echo. This pen writes notes, records lectures and can then transfer the text your wrote with the audio of a lecture or explanation onto your computer using Livescribe Desktop Software. By associating recordings with specific notebook pages, the software can match your notes to the corresponding audio, and make those notes easy to search.
Along with the necessary note capture and audio recording, the Livescribe Echo Smartpen also comes with some interesting, if not somewhat expendable, additional features. You can share your notes via Facebook or your mobile device using Livescribe Connect Basic, or with added apps convert your written text to digital text. There is a basic translator, a scientific calculator, and a simple calculator that can be activated by drawing a calculator on any dot paper. The most adorable feature is the paper piano, which allows the pen to play tones when pressed upon piano keys drawn on dot paper. Perhaps not the most useful to your studies, but innovative nonetheless. There are also many other additional apps that can be added to your pen, such as a dictionary or a poker game, and used with the OLED screen.
Aside from the fun you can have between lectures, the Livescribe Echo Smartpen is made to enhance the benefits of note taking. This is definitely a specialized pen in a league of its own. The Echo is $149.95, which might be a little much if you find you work better typing notes on a laptop or computer you already own. Unfortunately, the Echo Smartpen only functions properly when using special Livescribe dot paper, which assists in the visual recording of the notes you take. Additional paper and notebooks is a consistent additional cost, and requires an on hand supply at all times; no borrowing a sheet of paper from a friend. The pen is also a bit larger than normal ballpoints, and writing with it can take some getting used to. Overall, however, if you have trouble taking notes that accurately reflect a lecture, then the Livescribe Echo Smartpen would be worth the money, because, out of all the things it can potentially do, it seems to do a the best job taking notes.