So how exactly does the pen work? Well the first thing you need to know is that the LiveScribe smartpens will only work on something called dot paper, which is regular paper on which microdots have been printed allowing the infrared camera to record everything that is written. A starter notebook comes with the Echo pens and various sizes of notebook are available online through the LiveScribe website. You can even print your own dot paper from the LiveScribe Desktop using color printers with 600 dpi resolution or better.
Printed on the bottom of each page is a “navigation cross” and various recording and tracking buttons (record, stop, increase speed, decrease speed, jump to position and volume controls, jump forward, jump back and star). To begin recording tap the pen on the record button and you’ll hear a beep from the pen. From then on everything you write and say will be recorded. To finish, just tap the stop button. And that’s it. From then on it’s up to you as to what you want to do with the pen. It’s possible to record your writing without recording sound by simply writing on one of the pages without pressing the record button.
The next step is to download the LiveScribe Desktop software, which allows you to manage the recorded pages and audio. From here you can easily store, organise and share the pages via email to anyone with the LiveScribe Desktop software as .pencast files, which can be viewed interactively. Pencasts are interactive documents that recreate the document visually as well as allowing you to hear what was being said at the time. This way of viewing what exactly went on in a meeting/interview is a lot more informative than reading an email regarding the same event. You can even jump to a particular point in the recording by clicking on that piece of text.
LiveScribe Connect, which has just been launched, seriously enhances the functionality of your Echo Smartpen. When you have Connect installed on your desktop and updated the firmware on your pen, you will be able to create a Pencast PDF which anyone with Adobe Reader 10 or higher (or Acrobat Pro) will be able to read and interact with. This means you can share it with almost everyone you know and not just those who have the LiveScribe Desktop software. Once you have completed your document, draw a line on the page and when you are prompted, type the command you want such as Email, Facebook or Evernote.
When the pen is next docked the Pencast PDF will be automatically sent to the account you have set up for each of these ‘Connectors’. Connect allows you to also send documents to GoogleDocs, online LivsScribe storage or a particular folder on your computer. The system works well once you've got used to it, though we found that initial set-up of the software was a little bit confusing – however we were using a Beta version and LiveScribe confirmed to us that all aspects were now working perfectly. Connect is also available to Pulse versions of the pen.