Ink and Audio: Together Again!

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Scribblers of the Livescribe Smartpen Pulse have discovered the joys of turning handwritten notes into computer-searchable text along with linked audio that the pen records with its built-in mono microphone. Now, the company has introduced the LiveScribe Echo Smartpen (left) in 4GB and 8GB versions.


In addition to containing twice the memory as the original Pulse models, they provide password security for the audio files and collaborative workplace features for your handcrafted documents.

You use all the Smartpens to write or draw on specially-designed paper like the sheets in the Livescribe Single Subject Notebook. (A pack of four notebooks is pictured to the right.) The paper embeds a custom dot-positioning system. Special controls are located at the bottom of each page, allowing you to navigate through pen applications and features. All the pens feature handwriting and audio capture, an OLED display, a soft rubber grip and a USB jack for uploading your penmanship and audio files to a Mac or Windows computer. A non-removable lithium-ion battery is recharged via the USB cable.

Even before transferring files to your computer, a built-in speaker lets you play back your dictation or audio from a lecture. There's also a standard 3.5mm audio jack (next to the micro-B USB interface, right) for attaching your own earphones. If you happen to be a music or theater critic, you could be taking notes linked to the riff being played or dialog being spoken. If you're attending a business presentation, you can write your own retort to a CEO's boast.

The 8GB Echo can record 800 hours of audio or store a combination of audio, digital ink, and applications. Of course, when you're done making notes the old-fashioned analog way and stopped recording digital audio, you'll want to transfer both media to the all-digital medium known as your computer. Livescribe provides an extensive software bundle and 500MB of online storage via the My Livescribe service. This fall Livescribe will make available new Connect software, which enables users to send notes, audio and Pencast PDFs quickly and easily from Smartpen and paper to a range of destinations including e-mail addresses and online sites. Information is automatically sent when the pen is docked with your Internet-connected computer.

With Pencast PDF, users will also be able to author and share pencasts in a standard Adobe PDF document directly from Smartpen and paper. Anyone with Acrobat Reader 9.3 or above will then be able to view and listen to an interactive Pencast PDF. Livescribe will also be introducing Paper Tablet, new collaboration software that enables users to communicate in real time, directly from a Livescribe notebook to a Mac or PC using an Echo Smartpen attached by USB cable. According to Livescribe, that means that any Livescribe paper product will also double as an interactive graphics tablet, with the Smartpen being used as a real-time stylus. Users will create and share notes, drawings and annotate or sign documents or presentations locally or globally with popular video-conferencing applications or industry standard education collaboration tools. It all gives new meaning to passing notes in the classroom.