When it comes to note taking on an iPad, there’s a huge selection of quality applications which allow you to enter text, images, and recordings. As you can imagine, you can write some text using a stylus, and you can doodle as much as you like. Even though this sounds nice in theory, things aren’t that smooth in practice since capacitive iPad styluses aren’t really made for writing but for drawing instead, and they can be very bulky and impractical. Many developers and manufacturers tried to solve this problem by creating very thin styluses with very elegant rubber nibs, but this hasn’t really solved the problem. The newest try comes from Livescribe, which is a company that makes smart-pens.
Livescribe 3 is the recently introduced smart-pen, which is designed for note taking on your iPad. This is not a typical stylus, since this one is designed to be used as a traditional ballpoint pen, so you write in a notebook actually. Continue reading to see how this product works and if it’s worth the price of $150.
Livescribe 3 is designed to be used as a traditional ballpoint pen, which means that it brings familiar design. It’s a little bit bulkier than a pen, but I assume that most users won’t have any trouble adjusting to it. This pen uses a regular tip and right next to this tip there’s a small camera that tracks your writing. It only works with a notebook made by Livescribe, and you’ll receive a 50-sheet notebook once you buy this product. Papers of this notebook are covered with a very small dots, which are used to help this smart-pen navigate and recognize what’s being written. What I really liked is that the bottom of each page contained symbols for “star” and “flag” and a set of traditional play-pause-stop marks. Simply push any of these symbols so the page will be flagged, and you can use play-pause-stop to make recordings as well. Also, this pen can be charged via microUSB port which can be found at the top of the pen.
The second part of this system is the official Livescribe iOS app. You’ll need to pair the smart-pen only once, inside this application. Now every time you start writing in a notebook, text will be automatically recognized and sent to Livescribe’s iOS app. This process is actually incredible and works very well. The same goes for recordings, which are always being successfully tied to a piece of text.
Even though this whole process is incredibly simple and efficient, there are some important downfalls. When it comes to hardware, there’s no problem at all. The pen is nicely designed and works amazingly well. When it comes to Livescribe’s iOS app, it’s full or irregularities and strange UI design decisions. It will take some time until you learn how this application works and what are the differences between three main tabs: Page, Feed, and Pencast. For example, Pages are non-editable pieces of text which you can scroll through. In case you’d like to edit a page or listen to a recording, you’ll need to go to Feeds. This view splits items into editable sections, which you can delete as well. If you delete a section in this view, it will still remain in the Page view. This application is very confusing overall and seems like a missed opportunity to make an amazing product.
Livescribe 3 brings an amazing idea, which has been seriously damaged by its iOS application. It’s still usable, but you’ll need a lot of effort to learn your way around.