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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22 Responses to How To Choose The Right Smartpen

  1. Martin Johnson says:

    Hi there

    I have a Livescribe 3, in fact I now have 2 as the first one was faulty. However, what lets Livescribe down (apart from bad Customer Service, who simply blame the user’s handwriting) is the Livescribe app on the iPad Pro. Its transcription of handwriting is comical, I mean literally it makes up funny words that aren’t in the English dictionary. It also doesn’t work with the iPad keyboard. So I can capture handwriting, but I cannot transcribe, nor can I add tags to make it searchable.

    Don’t you think it’s odd that Apple no longer resell this product. It’s basically useless. I’ve gone back to using a regular pen. Far more efficient.

    If anyone out there knows of a proficient Smartpen, one that actually brings tangible benefits in this digitised world, I’d love to hear from them.



    • Mark Parker says:

      Hi Martin,
      Thanks for commenting, let me address your comment point by point:
      1. If you read the post you’ll note that I call out the mobile version of the hand writing conversion software as being deficient – I often find it so “light” that I go back to my Echo as the desktop version of MyScript is IMHO far superior. I don’t know why this is…no one will tell me, but I will point the finger at Apple and Google
      2. I deal with 97% of all warranty in Australia – you note you have two pens, of which one is faulty – have you bought this to my attention so I can replace it? Is there another CS issue that I haven’t resolved with you?
      3. Apple is a public company and they make retail range decisions that best suit their commercial needs. I’d recommend asking Apple exactly and/or how often they remove third party SKU’s from their retail stores before insinuating that they dropped the product for QA reasons. In fact, whilst you’re asking them, please ask them why they permit store staff to open retail boxes to show the physical product to customers and then tag this product as faulty? So…they won’t allow vendors to put demo stock in-store but are happy to open retail boxes and then write that stock off as faulty…This is nothing short of vandalism/theft – but they get away with it…

      cheers Mark

  2. Sean says:

    Hi Martin. I run windows 7 – is that compatible? I am a lawyer but want to have my notes stored electronically and stop having to have note paper in the office and on the desk. What I want to do is take notes and store them electronically with other e files for my clients – if the file converts to text then even better. What is the process involved in saving handwritten notes to a file using windows 7?

    • Mark Parker says:

      Hi Sean
      Windows 7 machines work fine with the Echo smartpen model. If your primary work device is a laptop or desktop then the Echo would still be my preference. A basic summary of the process would be:
      1. Write notes using Echo smartpen
      2. Connect smartpen to your work machine – select one or many pages to convert to text – from MyScript you can cut and paste or send to Word
      3. You could also do a simple export of the page(s) to PDF (can’t be edited at this stage) and then store that PDF against the clients e-file

      Let me know if you have any additional questions.

      cheers Mark
      PS. We have stock in Auckland and trade via our NZ company/site

  3. Paul Burggraaf says:

    Hi Mark,
    I have an ECHO that I have been using minimally since around 2010. The screen has died recently but all the other functions still working fine.
    Are new OLED display panels available to purchase?

    Thanks. Great product.


    • Mark Parker says:

      Hi Paul,
      Unfortunately the OLED screens can’t be replaced. At 6.5yrs of age the pen is well past it’s effective life and I think even if you did replace the OLED the battery would be pretty close to EOL as well.

      If you send me an email with your details I can send you an offer for a new pen at a very good discount to RRP.

      Mark (

      • Dean du Preez says:

        Good day Mark

        I have a Livescribe WiFi had it for a few years but it was purchased in South Africa. I went to charge it the other day and the display doesn’t light up nor does it seem to charge. Can I change the battery on this device? Alternatively I would be in the market for a new bundle. Either the echo or 3.

        Thank you

        Best regards

        • Mark Parker says:

          Hi Dean, apologies for the delayed response. You can’t change the battery unfortunately. Best option would be to go to either LS3 or Echo. Let me know if i can help further. Mark

  4. Gopalakrishna Rapaka says:

    Dear Sir,

    I bought smart pen model: XN680 from online. The smart pen is made in china from Yifang Digital. I have gone through User’s Guide. This smart pen is supposed to work on both Mobile and Desktop computer. They told us to download skeynote software from Playstore etc. I searched for this software, but could not found. By trial and error methods, I installed various mobile apps for smartpen. Finally, this smart pen model is working with MemoPlus mobile app.

    My problem is, I could not find compatible desktop application for my smart pen. Kindly suggest me a desktop application, which will work with smart pen model XN680.

    Also please suggest me one sofisticated smart pen for making youtube video lectures, whic should work on both Mobile and Desktop computer.

    Many thanks in advance.


  5. sean t dobbs says:

    How is the software for either the echo or the 3? I am concerned as I have read many reviews that like the pen but dislike the software so much (especially the echo – desktop version – still looks antiquated). Here is an example of this type of review.

    I am deciding on this or the apple pencil and sw with functions that mirror the LS.

    Sean t

    • Mark Parker says:

      Hi Sean,
      that review you reference is over 3 years old and was the beta version shown to reporters. The app has developed a long way since then. As the blog post notes, which pen is best for you depends on your requirements. Yes, Echo Desktop is a bit clunky, but its functional for those who want to manage notes and audio.

      Let me know if I can help further.


  6. Hi Mark

    My husband has had a pen for years and loves it.
    I am recommending one to my boss who runs a boutique financial planning business.
    A lot of meetings, presentations, note taking, etc. Notes are scanned to a PC and referred to later. Compliance and confidentiality are important in our business.
    I am not sure which pen to get… can see advantages to both.
    I may take advantage of your 30 day trial offer but I see this is just the echo pen? What would you recommend on past experience and sales in this industry.


  7. Barry Dolan says:

    Mark, I am a Project Manager for a small Engineering Firm. I do a lot of structural and asbestos inspections and always take lots of notes while inspecting buildings. I have spent a bit of time researching your products and would like to know which smart pen would suit my work. I do usually write reports by hand prior to getting the report typed up by others. I would like to be able to convert my hand written reports to text then edit them myself. Also I wanted to know if they work well with doing small drawings for reference to go with reports?

    • Mark Parker says:

      Hi Barry,
      Apologies for the delayed follow up. I’d recommend the 2GB Echo. The hand writing conversion software that we offer as an optional extra (MyScript) is far superior to the mobile app version. MyScript when used with the Echo pen will convert both text and drawings whereas the mobile version that comes with LS3 doesn’t.

      Let me know if I can help further


  8. Casey says:

    Mark, my parents purchased a livescribe sky wifi smartpen a couple of years ago for high school but I wasn’t able to use it there and never even opened the box until two days ago. After charging it, the display wouldn’t light up and I have been unable to activate it. Is there any chance I can return it in its original box to have it replaced with an 2GB Echo for college studies? I’m interested in the audio recording portion but pen and paper notes.


    • Mark Parker says:

      Hi Casey,
      The WiFi pen hasn”t been sold in Australia for around 4 years so if it was never used I suspect the battery has failed.

      Where are you based?


  9. Robin says:

    Hi Mark, We use the Echo 3 for minute taking and love it – the marked paper is a fascinating idea – tap the paper and replay the conversation, from the pen. Really good!! We are in Melbourne, and would like to get MyScript. What’s the best way? Also – got any thoughts on transcription from recorded voice? THAT feels like very complicated processing, but hey, voice processing is constantly improving. A meeting has many different voices – it would be very cool if speech transcription could discriminate between people – perhaps tag them as person 1, person 2 etc, then allow names to be ascribed to the tag…. 🙂

  10. Maria says:

    I just bought a Livescribe 3 pen, and so far it has been somewhat useful (and also just plain cool), but the handwriting recognition isn’t great for me. Plus if I make a mistake, I have yet to find a way to make the pen recognize that it is an error and not transcribe gibberish (crossing-out doesn’t work, scribbling over it doesn’t work, etc.) Anyone have suggestions?

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