Echo smartpen melds ink, audio

CNET reviews the Livescribe Echo, a pen and voice recorder that can digitally capture your handwritten notes and synchronize them to the playback of recorded audio.

I have horrible penmanship. I can't write in cursive to save my life. Even my own signature is an absurdly inconsistent mess. Yet, here I am, reviewing a pen.

To be perfectly honest, I was a little terrified to review the Echo smartpen for CNET. In the back of my mind, I was convinced that my unforgivably awful handwriting would cause the little computer inside the pen short-circuit?

As it turns out, good penmanship is not a prerequisite for using the Echo smartpen. In fact, you don't even need to be literate to make its price ($169-$199) worthwhile.

In a nutshell, the Livescribe Echo is a unique voice recorder with built-in pen (or vice versa) that digitally captures your handwriting and audio simultaneously and stores it all to internal memory. Later, when you want to review your notes, you can access your recorded audio by tapping any notes on the page, which will cue up exactly what was recorded the minute you committed pen to paper. It's a neat trick. Using a USB cable, you can also offload notes and recordings to a computer, export them, e-mail them, or embed them online (see sample below).

Livescribe calls this feature "paper replay" and it's really the core feature of the pen. For better or worse, though, there's much more you can do with it. Using Livescribe's app store or third-party applications that take advantage of the Livescribe SDK, you can use the Echo to learn foreign languages, check your spelling, calculate tip, and even convert your handwriting into a word processing document--though I'm sure my penmanship would break that feature.

To learn more, you can read my full review of the Echo smartpen from Livescribe on CNET.

(embedded Pencast via Mr. Disaster)

Stars Wars notes
brought to you by Livescribe
Read the full CNET Review

Livescribe Echo (4GB)

The Bottom Line: For students and professionals who ritually take, review, and share handwritten notes, the Echo smartpen does what all great technology should do: it makes life easier. / Read full review

Read the full CNET Review

Livescribe Echo (8GB)

The Bottom Line: For students and professionals who ritually take, review, and share handwritten notes, the Echo smartpen does what all great technology should do: it makes life easier. / Read full review

About the author

Donald Bell has spent more than five years as a CNET senior editor, reviewing everything from MP3 players to the first three generations of the Apple iPad. He currently devotes his time to producing How To content for CNET, as well as weekly episodes of CNET's Top 5 video series.

 

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