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Livescribe Pulse Smartpen - Livescribe Pulse Smartpen

Ardjuna Seghers

By Ardjuna Seghers



Our Score:


Moving on to the base station, it acts as a charging cradle, data connection and control centre, connecting to either a PC or charger through USB. It's solidly constructed and the pen slots into it effortlessly and securely thanks to a strong magnet, so you can carry the base around without the pen falling out.

Last, though not quite least on the hardware side, we have what initially looks like a pair of cheap earphones. Though the audio they produce is expectedly mediocre, they are light and comfortable. However, their main feature is not to produce audio, but to record it. A microphone in each bud allows for binaural recording, or '3D' as Livescribe terms it. They work very well too, picking up a conversation clearly from the other side of a noisy office with the correct stereo positioning.

There's also a mono microphone in the pen, but although - like the inbuilt mono speaker - it's impressive for its size, it obviously can't match the dual ones in the headset. A major disadvantage is that though the pen sports a 2.5mm jack, this won't recognise any devices except the proprietary set supplied with it, so you can't hook the pen directly up to some speakers to let a whole room listen in on your recording. Likewise, you won't be using the 3D recording headset with anything but Livescribe's pen due to its proprietary plug.

Also integrated into the pen is 2GB of non-upgradeable memory that's good for around 200 hours of recorded audio, though this goes down depending on the selected recording quality. If that sounds like more than you need, there's a cheaper 1GB version available as well.

However, the single biggest issue with the Pulse Smartpen's audio capabilities is that the pen itself lacks any physical controls. Instead, to navigate tracks or change the volume you have to use the bottom of one of the specially-dotted pages from the included notebook, or you can take a slightly more circuitous route and use the menu controls on the base station. This is fine when using recordings in conjunction with notes, but is less convenient if just making a recording with no notes to reference.


September 14, 2009, 6:11 am

I wish I understood from the review what this product does! So its like a pen, and you write on paper and then you can make it a digital document to pc? Confused

Michael Atkinson

September 14, 2009, 12:10 pm

It writes on paper, translates, records etc... Looks darn nifty!!! Check out a few youtubes: http://www.youtube.com/watc...


September 14, 2009, 1:14 pm

Like Kaiser I did not understand what this product does either.

A video review is a must for this product so you can understand it.


September 14, 2009, 4:49 pm

Seems a pointless product and excercise to me, I am sure better products will eclipse it.


September 14, 2009, 7:07 pm

I don't understand what this pen does either. From the review I couldn't deduce if it writes over plain paper with an ink and digitizes the movements (how can it have play and stop buttons drawn on a paper then?) or it writes over some kind of OLED display (but then how can it have 100 pages?).

What is it and what does it do, those are my questions after reading the review...

That's not a very well written review is it? :-))


September 15, 2009, 12:25 am

I think it achieves the same result as using a pen and paper along scanning it in to your pc, so it does what a 5p pen and a 50p pad and a scanner does for £150 but it just remembers when you wrote it and inserts the audio recordings in a note-recording timeline

well that's what I think it does


September 15, 2009, 5:09 am

I don't normally comment on these reviews and such but...

I assumed it did what Jay said from reading the first two paragraphs when the review first popped up and was uninterested so didn't read the rest. But I read the comments about not knowing what it did and thought "what idiots"...but upon reading the review...I, too, have no idea what it does...what on earth is the drawn piano keyboard about? what do you do to it? how can the paper make sound? Am I really reading it wrong? I'm at something of a loss...maybe we need to know what digital paper is before reading the review? I'm sort of intrigued about the whole thing now that no one knows what the hell it does.


September 15, 2009, 1:35 pm

Good lord - I hope you all can at least manage to fork the food into your mouth.

"a ballpoint pen with an embedded computer and digital audio recorder. When used with special paper, it records what it writes for later uploading to a computer, and synchronizes those notes with any audio it has recorded. This allows a user to replay portions of a recording by tapping on the notes he or she was taking at the time the recording was made. It is also possible to select which portion of a recording to replay by tapping on the relevant portion of a page on-screen, once it has been synced to the Livescribe desktop software." - Wikipedia; you might have heard of it.

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