Aug 02

My Magic Pen

Posted by Carlos in Reviews

pulse_pen_paper_lowThe Pulse Smartpen by Livescribe is a digital pen which I received as a present last Christmas. The pen allows you to record what you write in your own handwriting and so much more. It is a great tool for those who attend meetings, seminars, school or any event one wishes to document.

The pen comes in two different sizes 1GB or 2GB. Along with the pen, the package contains 1 100 sheet college-ruled notebook, charging cradle, headset, and a case. The notebook includes three ‘training’ pages where one quickly learns how to use the pen.

I have been using it for the last seven months and must say it is the easiest tool I have used. It does what it says it does and does it well.
I guess one can say that the pen is on the thicker side, but I have found that once you use it for a while it is not a problem. Actually according to some pen manufacturers, thicker pens are better for you because it minimizes writing stress.

So how does it do it you might be asking yourself. Simple, the pen requires that you use special paper (called Dot Paper) which has microdots in the background. This allows the built-in infrared camera to record every stroke of the pen. I can say from experience that this technology is remarkably accurate, the pen seems to record even the tiniest wiggle of the pen.
The paper comes in various forms, there are spiral-bound notebooks, journals (lined and blank), and notepads for starters. When I received the pen, I thought the price of the paper was going to be expensive, but it is not. The prices are pretty much similar to those of other high end paper products.

In order to get the most of the pen, one has to use a computer. Livescribe Desktop comes for Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. Like the pen, the software is easy to use. One of the best features of the software is it’s handwriting recognition. When searching for a specific word or phrase, the software is able to find it even when I don’t write it down too well (which is somewhat often). The desktop software does not do translation (taking your chicken scratch and turning it into text), but there are software packages out there that work with it that can do this.

This alone makes this a worthwhile tool, but it does more. The pen is also able to record audio. It can do this while you write or not. The included headset also has microphones so that when plugged into the pen one can record audio in 3D (easier to determine who said what in a meeting). It does this while keeping track of what one is writing while it records the audio. When you synchronize your pen to the computer all the writing and audio is transferred to it. The software displays the writing that has audio associated with it in green so you can tell where the recorded audio starts and ends. One of the niftiest features is where you can actually playback audio on the pen itself. To initiate playback, one just has to touch the notes that you were writing while it was recording the audio.
It also has the ability to create movies of what you write where it will play it back on your pen (why one would do this I don’t know, but it is neat).
There are also additional features that are just prototypes at the moment (the ability to translate a written word to another language), but do seem promising.

If you just look at what the pen currently can do, this is one tool that no student or business professional can do without. It has made my life better at home and at work.