How To Choose The Right Smartpen

If you’re not sure about which model Livescribe smartpen is right for you, this blog post will help. Remember: Livescribe DOES NOT release models that necessarily replace earlier models or are better than existing models unless specifically noted at launch.

The easiest way to determine which Livescribe model is right for you is to think about how you want to use the smartpen. These are the typical questions I will ask you if you need advice on which model best suits your needs:

  1. If you write a lot and need to convert hand written notes into an editable format – I’d recommend the Echo model. Why?
    • The Echo model has an optional software program called MyScript for Livescribe. This program works inside Echo Desktop and allows you to convert one or many pages of notes into editable text.
    • Livescribe 3 has hand writing conversion built into the mobile app (Livescribe+) BUT in my experience the mobile version isn’t as good as the desktop version.
  2. If you take shorter notes and won’t really do that much audio recording (i.e. < 2hrs/w) – I’d recommend the Livescribe 3 model. Why?
    • Livescribe 3 is ideal for snippets of content – i.e. 1 or 2 paragraphs
    • The app allows you to swipe to convert text which can then be used in email, reminders, or sent to cloud services
  3. If your primary work or study machine is a desktop or laptop (PC or Mac) – I’d recommend the Echo model. Why?
    • Content goes from pen and paper into Echo Desktop and you then have your notes or notes and audio locally on your primary work/study computer.
    • You simply tap the pen on your notes and the pen will replay the audio that was recorded at that point in time
    • You can also replay audio via Echo Desktop
  4. Your a student and want to capture notes and audio – I’d recommend the Echo model. Why?
    • The built in mic on the Echo means in class, all you need with you is pen and paper. Simply tap record and you are instantly taking notes and audio.
    • Whilst you can record notes and audio with Livescribe 3, you need to have your companion device with you, with the app open in order to start audio recording
  5. You use cloud collaboration services like Evernote or OneNote and/or a tablet heavily – I’d recommend Livescribe 3. Why?
    • Livescribe 3 allows you to connect the app to your cloud account and either manually or auto-send content from pen and paper into the cloud.
    • I personally use Evernote a lot and if I’m taking short notes or working on a plane, I’ll use my Livescribe 3 as I’ll often Bluetooth the content to my iPad and then into Evernote so that its then instantly available wherever else I might be working.

Buying a Smartpen

The process I recommend is as follows:

  1. Determine which model smartpen will best meet your needs – Echo or Livescribe 3
  2. Determine whether you need the base model (i.e. 2GB Echo or Livescribe 3 Black), a Smartpen value bundle (scroll down our homepage for more information), or one of the premium editions
  3. Add your selection to the shopping cart and complete your checkout.

I’ll be updating this blog post from time to time. If you still need help, please contact me via

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Livescribe smartpen Test Drive Launched

Starting today I’m pleased to announce that we have launched a Livescribe smartpen test drive/try before you buy service for our (potential) customers in Australia and New Zealand.

The purpose of the test drive is to give you the opportunity to try the pen, experience the features, size, and benefits that come from this product before you commit to a purchase.

How the Test Drive Works

The test drive service is really simple – and it’s obligation free.

In summary:

  • You can trial either the Livescribe 2GB Echo smartpen, or the Livescribe 3 smartpen for a period of 30 days
  • We will send you either option along with a notebook, USB cable, and instructions on getting starter with your trial pen
  • At the end of the 30-days you MUST return the pen to us (if you don’t you’ll incur an additional fee of $100)
  • If you do then decide to purchase a smartpen, we’ll also give you a discount code to save 7.5% off paper and accessories.

What The Test Drive Cost?

The only cost to you is for shipping both to you, and back to us at the end of the trial (we’ll include a return satchel). Yes, I did give consideration to this being a free trial but to be honest, I believe you’ll take it more seriously when you have some skin in the game as well.

This is obligation free

If you take up this offer you are under no obligation to purchase a smartpen from us. All I ask is that you take the trial period seriously, use the pen, ask questions, give us your feedback (good, bad, or otherwise) and return the pen to us.

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Anoto Live smartpen in Action

With Livescribe now part of the Anoto family of products, we access a larger, more diverse range of digital pens.

One of these digital pens is the Anoto Live Digital Pen.

Anoto Live Pen 2

The Anoto Live digital pen

Similar in size to Livescribe 3, the Anoto Live Pen 2 is designed to capture forms based data. If you’re currently using paper forms to collect or manage information then this digital pen is an excellent option – capable of digitising hand written information and rapidly sending this data.

This video shows Anoto LP2 in action

Contact me if you’d like more information.

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How to access the audio file from a Livescribe 3 smartpen recording

As many of you know, the Livescribe 3 smartpen uses your companion tablet or smartphone to record audio (unlike the Echo smartpen where the recording is on-board the pen).

Because of this, how the audio file is managed differs from the Echo range, which means if you want to export and/or share the native audio file you need to follow a number of explicit steps to do so.

Please note: By default, you can replay the audio using the pencast tab in Livescribe+.

IF you want to export the audio file only, you need to follow these steps (and please note, these steps are the iPad method as I don’t use an Android tablet.

  1. Go to Livescribe+ and into the left hand side menu option
  2. Swipe down to Pencasts and select the pencast you wish to share
  3. Share the pencast to either OneNote or Evernote.
  4. Browse to the file in one of these cloud platforms and then download the file to your local computer
  5. Open the PDF file you downloaded with Adobe Reader (I personally use Acrobat Reader DC (which I hate but that’s another story!))
  6. In the left hand vertical toolbar you’ll see a paperclip icon, click this and it will then show you the underlying audio file.
  7. Right click or two-finger tap and you’ll then have the option to export the audio file in m4a format.

Let me know if you have any questions in relation to this.

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End of Financial Year Special Offers

It’s that time of the year in Australia – June 30 is the end of our financial year which means its a perfect time to purchase business or study tools whilst also claiming a tax deduction.

This year we have tailored our special offers based on your feedback. The offers relate to the 2GB Echo and Livescribe 3 smartpens each comes with a 4-pack of A5 paper.

You can find our special offers here.

Livescribe smartpens

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Do New Livescribe Models Mean Better Technology?

A key question I’m asked by customers all the time is – “I want the latest and greatest version of the Livescribe pen…”

In the general consumer electronics space (CE) this is often the right question to ask – vendors typically release new models that are either incrementally better or step change better.We see this regularly with phones and tablets.

With Livescribe though, that is not the case – so let me explain what I mean…

What Smartpens Are Current Models?

The Livescribe smartpen range consists of two core models:

  1. Echo smartpen – comprising 2GB and 8GB Pro Edition options
  2. Livescribe 3 smartpen – comprising Livescribe 3 Black, Livescribe 3 Pro Edition, and Livescribe 3 Moleskine Edition

Models that have been retired from the range are the Pulse smartpen (the round alloy shape), and the WiFi smartpen (originally referred to as Sky smartpen or Sky WiFi).

Note also that within the two ranges I’ve also listed numerous bundles that comprise the core pen, paper, and accessories. These bundles are discounted to RRP and are called smart writing sets. You’ll find the most popular bundles on our homepage.

What Are The Key Differences Between Echo and Livescribe 3

This is a simple summary of the differences:

  1. Pen design – The Echo smartpen has an OLED screen, microphone, and speaker on the pen so the top section of the pen is marginally thicker
  2. How Audio is Captured – The Echo models capture audio directly onto the pen whereas the Livescribe 3 models require the use of a companion device (smartphone or tablet)
  3. Where Content is Stored – Livescribe 3 smartpens store content on your companion device – it can be on-shared to cloud services like Evernote, or OneNote, or shared via email. Echo smartpens store content on a laptop or desktop computer.

Is The Technology Inside The Pen Different?

Short answer is no. Both the Echo and Livescribe 3 use the same core technology inside the pen to capture notes, and also sync notes and audio. Converting hand written notes to text also uses the same core technology from Vision Objects – though in my experience the desktop version of MyScript is superior to that found inside the mobile app Livescribe+

Back To The Original Question

Does a new Livescribe model mean its better than existing smartpens?

The answer clearly is no.

The question probably have now though is Which model smartpen is right for me?

The answer to that question is the subject of my next blog post!

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Livescribe smartpens in the Classroom

Over the past 10 years I’ve spoken to hundreds of teachers and undertaken training sessions at over 150 schools across Australia and New Zealand. This blog post is the first in a series of posts that I’ll publish in the coming weeks so as to address some of the most common questions I get about Livescribe smartpens.

Which smartpen is most popular?

Definitely the Livescribe 2GB Echo smartpen.

  • Its the most cost-effective model
  • It’s the simplest to use – the student just needs pen and Livescribe pad on their desk

How do students use their smartpen in class?

For students the key benefit is being able to capture audio in addition to their hand written notes.

  • Some students will record whole lessons, others use it to capture key parts of a lesson

For students who have difficulty writing or staying focused in class, the Echo smartpen becomes a second memory – allowing them to take brief notes and focusing more on what a teacher is saying.

How do teachers use their smartpen in class?

Typically a teacher will have one or more pens in use in a classroom to support different learning outcomes or student needs. These might include:

  • Providing pens to students with learning difficulties
  • Using the smartpen with sound stickers so as to turn written content such as text-books or posters into interactive learning tools where the pen can deliver verbal content to augment the written content.
  • Creating Livescribe Pencast content that is incorporated into learning systems and blogs
  • Using the smartpen in day-to-day interactions with peers, parents, and administration so as to take better notes

What Livescribe paper or accessories should I buy?

The first question to ask yourself or the end user is what size of paper they prefer to write on – A5 or A4 (or if you’re like me a combination of both).

  • If A4 is your choice then I’d recommend our new 2GB Echo A4 bundle:
    • 2GB Echo smartpen
    • 4-pack of A4 spiral notebooks
    • MyScript for Livescribe
    • 2x Echo black ink refills (provided for free during March 2016)
  • If A5 is the preferred size then the 2GB Echo mobility bundle offers excellent value for money
    • 2GB Echo smartpen
    • 4-pack of A5 notebooks
    • Smartpen A5 portfolio

In terms of other accessories, two in particular are worth considering:

  1. MyScript for Livescribe – this optional software add-on allows you to convert one or many pages of notes into editable text (note that this is included with both value bundles noted above).
  2. 3-D Recording Headset – when plugged into the Echo smartpen, the ear buds become 3-D microphones – improving the range and quality of audio capture. They are particularly useful if a user is going to be in larger lecture halls or meeting rooms.


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