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


About Mark Parker

Mark Parker is the founder of Smart Selling International Pty Ltd. Smart Selling International is a niche technology market launch expert - helping technology companies launch and grow their brands in Australia, New Zealand, and parts of Asia. Mark is focused on Augmented and Virtual Reality, IoT, and digital data capture devices. You can find him online at - Twitter (@smartselling or @smartpen), LinkedIn -
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32 Responses to How To Choose The Right Smartpen

  1. Hi Mark,
    I’ve been tossing up with the idea of a smart pen as I do like to take notes in meetings (Account Management) and not use a laptop or phone to do it. Perception of using a device I feel isn’t great and therefore I use notebooks a lot. But I hardly ever convert to soft opt and always having to find my notes. What would you suggest I use for mainly text bullet points and actions with the odd diagram? I’m based in NZ so want something that can be supported from here and not a huge drama if I have support issues or questions.


    • Mark Parker says:

      Either model will work fine. If you use a tablet and don’t really need audio capture I’d lean towards the LS3 model as you can create a simple bluetooth connection to the app on a tablet and then have your note content in digital format there – or you can push off to OneNote or Evernote.

      The team at DTSL in Palmerston North will be able to help you out with stock
      cheers Mark

      • Sean Rush says:

        Hi Mark, happy new year. I was told that recording people in NZ is illegal unless with their consent. Has this been raised as a problem before? Attendees at many meetings I attend would probably veto recording.


        Sean Rush

        Barrister (NZ) Solicitor (UK)


        P +64 (0) 27 706 7360 New Zealand

        P +44 (0) 7740 183076 United Kingdom

        Level 5, Suite 7, 24 Johnston Street,

        P O Box 25 480

        Wellington 6146


        This message contains confidential information. If it’s not intended for you, please don’t copy, disclose or use it, but please do let us know by return email and then delete this message

        • Mark Parker says:

          Hi Sean, I haven’t read NZ Privacy Laws for a few years but when I did read them they seemed materially similar to Australia’s State based privacy laws where being party to a conversation allowed recording without disclosure.

          My key advice for anyone who will be recording is to use common courtesy and disclose that you’ll be recording, why, and how you plan to use the recording.

          The Echo model is still very popular in education (particularly for students with disabilities), and in business in technical fields (such as law, engineering, IT, and fin services).

          So, legally I’m not sure what the situation is in NZ, but I am also aware from some users of instances where what’s being recorded is ‘managed’…

          cheers Mark

      • Jason says:

        Thank you for the reply Mark – appreciate the advice.

  2. Graham Mcmahon says:

    Hi Mark. This might be a little long but…

    The history: In 2012 I bought a Pulse. It was brilliant. The production of stand-alone pdf files that I could distribute to students was excellent. Over the summer holidays I did not use it and when I next turned it on the OLED failed. I was advised that it should be turned on at least weekly (why was this not made clear at the start?). As it was out of warranty I opted to buy another but the Pulse had been discontinued. The replacement ( Echo ???) was woeful. The OLED also died (quite quickly) and the pen was replaced under warranty. The new software did not allow the production of stand-alone pdf files and the storage via Evernote was most unsatisfactory. Each page was stored as a different file and the playback of files was unsatisfactory. File organisation within Evernote was difficult to navigate.
    I literally threw the pen in the bin and walked away from the technology.

    The present: I am thinking about giving it another go. Comparing the Livescribe 3 Black and Livescribe Echo, I think the Echo is still more suitable but I am reluctant to buy it unless the above issues have been rectified. Do the OLEDs still fail? (Why?). Has Evernote improved its file handling of Livescribe data? Will either model produce stand-alone pdf files?

    Sorry for the long post & thanks for reading it.
    Kind regards
    Graham McMahon

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