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Livescribe Echo (photos)

Take a closer look at the Livescribe Echo is an amazing pen. Priced at $169 (4GB) or $199 (8GB), one would hope this is the most fantastic pen ever devised by man. It may be.

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Donald Bell

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The Livescribe Echo is a ballpoint pen and voice recorder combination that preserves digital copies of your notes and recordings, which can be replayed, saved to your computer, and shared with others.
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There are three main elements to the Echo: a ballpoint pen; an infrared camera concealed inside the tip; and a microphone integrated into the pen barrel. Put them together, and you have a pen that digitally records sound and handwriting simultaneously.
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The Echo uses a rubber grip and a tapered, asymmetric body that offers better balance in the hand and stays put when placed on a table.
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The smart pen requires smart paper, as well. Controls for various settings run across the bottom of the page.
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To fit an OLED screen, speaker, microphone, memory, and other electronic components into the 6-inch-long pen, Livescribe uses ink cartridge refills that are shorter than usual. Two ink refills come included, and five packs can be obtained for as little as $5, but you do tend to run out of ink faster than you would with a conventional pen.
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The Echo draws its power from an internal rechargeable battery, which will require regular recharging. Battery performance will depend on the quality of the audio recordings you're making, which are adjustable from low, medium, and high.
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The headphone output at the top of the pen has been upgraded to a standard 3.5mm connection, compatible with most conventional headphones, as well as a binaural headset accessory for stereo recording (sold separately).
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The Livescribe desktop software allows you to review synchronized audio and video animations of your notes, and export them to PDF, audio file, or Pencast file.

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