Livescribe’s Pulse and Echo pens will record what you’re writing and what you’re hearing as you take lecture notes. Anyone who has ever struggled at the back of an auditorium trying to make notes and listen to a professor (the one who speaks quietly and way too quickly) go over a complex subject, will love this technology.
The basic pen kit comes in two options: 1GB version and the more expensive 2GB variant. Each kit contains the pen, a cradle to locate the pen when downloading or charging, one notebook of special paper to make the pen work (replacements are available at around $20 for 4), a USB port and docking cradle, and a set of combined head phones (earbuds) and microphone. The instructions, either in written (pdf) form or on the web site’s video, are logical and easy to follow.
The pen and the special paper work together. Although the paper looks ordinary, it has a patented dot-positioning system that tracks where the pen is and remembers where it has been. This makes the words your write searchable. That could be handy for test review.
Working together with the pad and pen is a directional recording device. When you want to record as you take notes, you simply tap the pen on the record symbol (conveniently located at the base of every page) and the audio system will record what was said, when it was said, and from which direction. Unlike so many modern devices, the sound quality on play-back is excellent with this system because of the directional recording.
How Does It Work?
So, what does the smartpen do besides recording lecture notes? Imagine that you are a reporter for the school paper and you’re conducting an interview with a famous politician. Just before the interview begins, you open the pad, switch on the pen, tap record, then go over some pre arranged questions with your interviewee. As your subject replies, you can make additional notes about your own thoughts, without having to worry about missing a word.
Downloading the recording is as placing the smartpen into its cradle. The software in the pen and on your PC will automatically download your notes into a session file – which you can name later (initially it defaults to the time and date the recording was made).
The pen can write in the ordinary way, but it can also do many other tasks. On the pen there is a small screen which uses OLED (Organic light-Emitting Diode) technology. The screen offers a visual check of the available modes and features, which include: time, date, battery condition, volume level, current status, replay of notes taken (paper replay), a calculator, and some gimmicky stuff like a piano and a poor quality movie – fun, but not needed.
When you register your smartpen you will gain access to more features, such as the translator and the ability to upload your notes and send them electronically to your friends or colleagues. Sharing notes has never been easier!
Does the Pulse Smartpen Deliver?
Wondering whether you should spend $150-200 for the Pulse smartpen? Students who are willing to re-listen to lectures to reinforce what they’ve written will absorb much more information than ever before. For this reason, I would recommend this product.