We recently looked at the ePens Mobile Notes, a digital pen that did away with 'digital paper', a significant advance over older devices like Logitech's io. Today, however, we're looking at the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen, which has reanimated this 'feature' as it works only with LiveScribe Dot paper.
This is because the Pulse Smartpen isn't really about converting notes into text; Livescribe doesn't even supply OCR software for this, though you can purchase software separately if you like. Instead it's primarily about archiving and linking your written notes and recordings of lectures or meetings so that when you return to them, it's much easier to recall all the information you need. In effect it's a digatal dictaphphone and notepad in one, but where the notes and audio are all synched together instead of jumbled up.
In the box you'll find the pen itself, in addition to a 100-page ruled 'digital paper' pad, a charging cradle and case for the pen, a headset, stylus nib and three spare ink nibs.
Compared to the ePens Mobile Notes, the Smartpen itself is in a different league of quality. Its thick, imposing body is made from classy, gunmetal grey anodised aluminium that not only makes it incredibly durable, but also lends a nice weight (36g) in the hand.
Its nib-holding tip is constructed using rugged matt black plastic, with glossy touches, while an OLED display adds to its impressive look and feel. Those with particularly small hands might find its bulky body less comfortable, but on the whole it looks the business and handles well, too.
A sheathe made of strong black faux-suede is also included. It fits the pen snugly, making it a far more practical proposition than the large cardboard case provided with the ePens. However, as with that peripheral, there's no space provided for extra nibs. Moreover, unlike the ePens which conveniently had its nib extractor incorporated into its cap, here it's integrated into the base. Still, this is not the problem it could have been since it's possible to remove the nibs by hand.