Livescribe 3 vs Neo smartpen N2

I’m asked often about the differences between the Livescribe 3 smartpen and NeoLABS N2 smartpen so this blog post is a summary of what I think of both models. This is my personal opinion…

Note that I’m not including the Echo smartpen in this comparison as I consider it to be unique with no natural competitor.

1. Size of pen

A lot has been made of the slimmer size of the N2 vs Livescribe 3 – certainly I find the N2 easy to hold and like the anodised alloy finish (ala the first Pulse smartpen) but having used both for close to a year I don’t mind either. The image below shows you the difference in thickness – it’s really not that much.

Neo vs LS3

2. Battery Life

What you gain in the slim pen you lose in battery life. My experience so far indicates the N2 lasts 8-9 hours, whereas the Livescribe 3 gives me 16+ hours of work. Knowing I can go a full week on the road without needing to charge my Livescribe 3 is significant for me.

3. Paper and Accessories

Both have taken a different approach to paper and accessories. I like the range of legal pads available for the N2 and the different journals – the journals in particular for the N2 have a nicer feel, higher quality to Livescribe’s journals.

4. Mobile App

This is hard to split…

  • Neo Notes has a cleaner interface but some commonly used functions like sharing, emailing, and text conversion are not as elegant as Livescribe+.
  • Livescribe+ tends to want to show you lots of stuff at once whereas with N2 you need to go tapping.
  • The calendar view in Neo Notes is brilliant.
  • The Android version of Neo Notes is far superior to the Android version of Livescribe+
  • Hand writing conversion is the same as they both use the cut down version of MyScript from Vision Objects.

5. Future Direction

A difficult one to measure as tech vendors are notoriously secretive when it comes to future features – which IMHO is counter-intuitive in relation to engaging users and also incorporating feedback from the field…

The recent announcement of the collaboration partnership between NeoLABS and Anoto makes it hard to understand what will come next. Hopefully we’ll see wider distribution of the Pen Generations model and maybe even an off the shelf custom forms solution…

Overall Thoughts

  1. If you need to take lots of notes and audio and work at a desktop or laptop – go with the Echo
  2. If you prefer to take brief notes and want to share to email or cloud easily – either LS3 or N2 will do the trick
  3. If you want to change ink colour, do on-screen (simple) edits etc the N2 is pretty cool



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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21 Responses to Livescribe 3 vs Neo smartpen N2

  1. rmyardley says:

    What’s next for the Echo pen? For those who need to take long notes and record lengthy presentations and meetings?

    • Mark Parker says:

      Hi Russell,
      Yeah, great question…the Echo still retains a unique position in the digital device market in terms of its ability to record notes and audio onto a single device.

      What’s next? I’m not sure. I’ve put my ideas forward based on my dealings with 20,000 plus local customers. I’m hoping someone at Anoto/Livescribe is listening…


  2. Vivian says:

    When are they going to improve the quality of the microphone on the echo pens and do something about the sound that happens on the recording when writing with the pens

    • Mark Parker says:

      Hi Vivian,
      Are you referring to the scratching sound that can sometimes be heard? If so, I’d recommend the 3-D recording headset as (when plugged into the pen) the ear buds become the microphone and they can be positioned away from pen and paper.

      cheers Mark

  3. jay hofkamp says:

    You didn’t compare the ability to record audio while taking notes. Which did you like better? I had a Livescribe Pulse and loved the ability to record/hear the audio at any given point in the notes. Is this ability basically still there (knowing the phone is doing the recording)?

    • Mark Parker says:

      Hi Jay,
      I didn’t compare that function as they are basically the same. To record audio with your notes you need to unlock your device, open the app, ensure a bluetooth connection is made, then tap record.

      If you plan on or need to record audio with your notes I’d recommend the Echo smartpen (the later version of the Pulse).

  4. Markus says:

    I wonder if we will ever hear of new lifescribe products. Why can`t Anoto be honest and tell the Pen-Fans they quit? I`m tired of looking after news about the futue of the product line
    Sad to see the Lifescribe Pens die.

  5. Bruce says:

    I love the NSP2 but connecting the digital and physical world of notes taking is where it falls short. Within their app, it would be great if you could create additional notebooks that keep the notes in realtime vs having to save a “completed” note to other digital notebooks. Also, Evernote integration needs to be improved. Would be great if you take 1/4 page of notes with the NSP2 and sync with EN so that only the 1/4 of notes is displayed in Evernote without the additional 3/4 of blank page. Being able in EN to have combination of types notes and NSP2 note snippets in 1 Evernote note would be great.

  6. Brent says:

    It seems Myscript for the Echo is no longer available for over 6 weeks now and livescribe arnt telling if they are going to replace or have it available for Windows 10 users (seems to be availible for up to windows 7 only) so as I brought the pen to change written to text the echo is useless without software

  7. Brent says:

    Got it Thanks Mark!

  8. Nick says:

    Hi Mark. Can you annotate photos through the app with either pen? Or even annotate them on Evernote? Can you direct the notebooks to a corresponding desktop app at all? Does Livescribe not do the calendar integration as well as the N2? I think I saw in a review somewhere that you can take drawings made from the N2 and put them in Photoshop and edit them etc? Is that right? Does Lightscribe allow this too?



    • Nick says:

      Just to clarify, my aim is to use it for site survey and quotations. Somehow taking photos and annotating them live would be ideal… but the ability to take my notes from a site visit and turning them to text to send to a to-do list / send them to a VA to organise in to a quote, is what I am looking for…

    • Mark Parker says:

      Hi Nick,
      1. No, as far as I know you cannot annotate photo’s
      2. No, any content generated by LS3 needs to go into the mobile app – you can then auto-send to OneNote or Evernote if required.
      3. No, calendar integration is not offered
      4. Yes, it’s a feature I’ve not used but I believe there is the option to export an image in an editable format

  9. Holly Watson says:

    I am a Livescribe pulse user, I love that pen. However, it’s starting to show its age. I have a really difficult time getting it to charge. I love, love, LOVE having the microphone in the pen even though these pen developers consider it “old” technology.

    I was getting ready to purchase a new echo but I’ve been hearing negative reviews about the OLED screen going bad within a couple years. I am going to graduate school and found my Pulse indispensable during my undergrad so I was hoping to replace it.

    Any word on whether or not there will be new technology to include the microphone in the pen? To me, this was brilliant and perfect for a student. I also take meeting minutes and find the combination of microphone/pen to be an amazing tool for that job as well. I never found the scratching from writing or the ink wobbling in the pen to be overly annoying…most of the time I was annoyed by the people in the room making noise rather than my pen.

    • Mark Parker says:

      Hi Holly,
      The Echo model is still part of the current range and is ideal for your type of situation.

      Livescribe did drop the ball for a while re the quality of the OLED component – particularly with the WiFi model.

      The realistic effective life of the Echo is between 3-4 years.

      Let me know if I can help further


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