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Livescribe starts shipping, barely

The digital pen maker says it will start shipping the first of its preorders starting Monday, narrowly hitting its already delayed shipping date. No word on when the pen will be more broadly available.

Livescribe's Pulse can record notes from a meeting in both ink and sound, as well as perform other tasks, such as translating a handwritten word from English to Spanish. Jared Kohler/ CNET News.com

Updated 4:15 p.m. with details on availability from a Livescribe e-mail.

Livescribe plans to start shipping the first preorders for its digital pen on Monday, narrowly hitting the company's already delayed target of shipping this month.

In a blog posting on Friday, CEO Jim Marggraff said the company has been "overwhelmed" by the number of preorders. The company's flagship device, the Pulse, combines a digital pen with synchronized audio notes and sells in two models. The 1GB device sells for $149, while the 2GB variety is $199.

Started by former Palm and LeapFrog executives, Livescribe garnered significant attention last May when it announced plans for its pen at the D: All Things Digital conference. However, the company was forced to delay its initial plan, which was to have the pen on the market for last year's holiday shopping season.

"As this demand has accelerated in the past month, we have continued working towards our first shipment date of March 31st, and have struggled to determine how to address preorders that far exceed our early production ramp," Marggraff said. "We noted Amazon's approach to handling shipment for their high-demand Kindle e-book, and ongoing Wii shortages, and have compared this to our own challenge, as a new company, to address our backlog."

However, since the company didn't ask for credit card information--and some of the preorders were made before the company announced pricing and specifications--it really won't know just how many customers it has until it starts taking actual orders Monday.

The company says that it will be shipping in "limited volume" and that those who have preordered will get an estimated ship date before having to hand over their credit card information.

"In retrospect, our hiatus in our communication is long overdue," Marggraff said. "I apologize for this. As I considered posting a blog entry numerous times, new concerns regarding growing demand arose, as well as meeting our growing backlog. Perhaps we were overly cautious in not wanting to send an ambiguous message. The time for ambiguity is past."

The company said those who have placed a preorder will be notified on Monday. I signed up for a preorder and haven't received an e-mail yet, but will update this once I do.

Update: I just got an e-mail from Livescribe saying I could order my pen. You can see the text of the e-mail here.

"We're ramping up our production to get you a Pulse smartpen as quickly as possible, and anticipate fulfilling the entire backlog of preorders by the end of May," Livescribe said in the e-mail. When I went to order, it told me that "Based on your position in our preorder list, your order should be available to ship within 4 to 6 weeks." (Did anyone get offered a sooner ship date?)

Also of note, Livescribe's e-mail said that, for now, the Pulse only works with XP SP2 or Vista SP1, nor can it run on a Mac that is using Parallels or VMware to run Windows.