Livescribe has been making digital handwriting devices (smartpens) for years and the latest model, Livescribe 3, proposes to instantaneously sync your handwriting directly to your mobile device. It’s ability to magically read your handwriting is designed around an infrared camera built into the base of the pen and it records as you write on the specially designed Livescribe dot paper.
Using an infrared camera isn’t new technology as the earlier Livescribe models also perform this function though require other laborious methods of transferring the recorded information from the pen to the screen.
I describe my time with the Livescribe 3 pen below; however, my time with the device was short lived due to an inability to correctly capture my poor handwriting on the mobile device. Every test I performed resulted in the Livescribe+ app capturing my handwriting along with unnecessary scribble. [See below]
Unboxing the Livescribe 3
- the pen in black,
- a black leather journal,
- a micro usb cable,
- an extra ink cartridge, and
- a one year subscription to Evernote Premium which is always nice.
To begin syncing the pen with your mobile device you must download the Livescribe+ app which is now available for both the Apple and Android platform. The pen is easily paired with the device from within the app using Bluetooth. However, I had a firmware update from 4.31 to 188.8.131.529 immediately after paring the pen which took around 13 minutes to complete showing 96 packages of firmware content being uploaded to the pen.
The pen is quite large but is surprisingly light to hold. There is also an integrated rubber stylus at the top of the pen though probably won’t be used much by the masses. (See my previous post about the Jot Script 2 Stylus)
It is powered by a lithium-ion battery and can be charged via a micro USB plug found under the stylus tip. Beware: the rubber stylus tip doesn’t come off to charge but rather then entire plastic tip housing the rubber stylus. I made the mistake of trying to remove the rubber top and then had to put it back by carefully aligning it with groves on the plastic housing hoping it wouldn’t fall off by accident.
You do have to write on Livescribe paper for the handwriting to be captured but Livescribe does offer a method to print your own special dot paper. This special dot paper allows the infrared camera to track the position of the ink and remembers the coordinates of each stroke regardless of writing or doodling.
Integrating the pen with your electronic devices seems to be a much smother process compared to one of the Livescribe 3’s predecessors, Livescribe Pulse, due to the direct sync to the mobile app. The older Livescribe Pulse model requires you to hook up a USB docking cradle to your laptop/desktop and sync the pen’s contents to the desktop application. Though I haven’t tested the upgraded replacement for the Pulse, the Livescribe Echo, it appears to also sync information via a direct USB connection with no mobile device synchronization.
To note: one major difference between the Livescribe 3 and the Pulse/Echo is the Livescribe 3 does not allow for recording audio while taking notes from the pen yet can utilize the mobile device’s microphone.
Unfortunately, I made multiple attempts to write notes with the Livescribe 3 pen on the official Livescribe Dot Paper yet the information never properly transferred to the mobile app. This was hugely disappointing as the concept of having my physical notes immediately transferred was awesome from a productivity standpoint.
I have taken a photo of one sample I wrote on the dot paper and also captured a screenshot of my mobile device displaying the sync’d text into the Livescribe+ app. You can notice the random lines that were erroneously captured on the mobile device making the digital notes unusable.
Nonetheless, I will revert back to the older model Livescribe Plus when I am taking notes at my desk.