So much more than just a pen!
By Tyler Regas
It’s rare to experience something that fundamentally redefines the way we look at something we never even considered a candidate for advancement.
The pen is certainly one of those devices. What more could you do with a device that makes a line on paper when you move it around?
Humans have been making written records for centuries and for most of that time we’ve used something akin to the common, consistent, irreplaceable pen.
It has taken many forms,
but its function has remained
the same — until the Pulse smartpen from LiveScribe Inc. came along.
If you are not yet familiar with this compact, pocketable, and powerful piece of computerized simplicity, you’ll soon want to be. That’s right, this pen is actually a tiny little computer. Because there’s only one button on the Pulse you might wonder how it can be so powerful and do so much. Let’s discuss what the Pulse Smartpen can actually do.
To be clear, the LiveScribe Pul
se still performs exactly the same function as its predecessors have. It is, after all, a pen at its core, so you can simply pull it out and start writing with it. In that form, however, that’s all it will do.
To make the magic happen, you need special paper. A 100-sheet college-ruled notebook comes with the kit and you can purchase paper at stores such as the Apple Store, Best Buy, Staples, Target.
So, pen in hand,
open a dot paper notebook to page one, and start writing. As you write, the pen records every dot and line and stores that data inside its memory. Carry just your pen and notebook with you and take amazing notes anywhere.
Then take the pen home, attach the included USB dock to your Mac OS X or Windows computer, and the data is transferred over to a program called LiveScribe Desktop. In this application, you literally see every single page of every single notebook you have ever written on — exact replicas of your pages. It’s so smart it even knows which notebook you worked in and what page of that notebook you wrote on. Yes. Very, very smart.
But there’s more…
The Pulse can also record audio through its built-in microphone — and if you turn on the recorder as you’re taking notes, the Pulse knows what was said while you were writing. And, of course, there’s built-in speaker so you can play back your recordings at any time. Just open your notebook to the page you want to listen to and tap on the page where you want playback to start. Each page has controls printed on it so you can speed up the playback or slow it down, jump back and forth, and move amongst recordings, all rather seamlessly. You’ll be tapping here and there in no time.
Were it to end there, that would certainly be cool enough. But, it goes further…
Plug in the included stereo headphones — which just happen to have microphones in each earpiece — and you can record in stereo. When you play back through the headphones later, you can recall from the audio, that it was Bob from Marketing who was sitting at your left.
After you have saved your handwritten pages to your computer, you can use keyword searches to find words and names. Yes. It will search your handwritten words and find them for you.
One great trick while recording is to jot only quick notes or keywords during discussions. This frees you from having to take long, tedious notes, which may lose their meaning in the translation and also frees you up to participate. Even after you sync to your computer, the audio remains synched to your words.
And still more…
Of course, the Pulse smartpen has several more tricks up its sleeve.
- Draw sketches as well as words.
- Draw working calculators or use the scientific/financial/statistical calculator included inside the cover of every notebook.
- Create “pencasts.”
The LiveScribe Pulse smartpen is a truly intriguing device.
It is deceptively simple and instantly powerful. It is empowering as it can truly free you from having to lug about a laptop everywhere.
I find that in most cases I do very well with my Pulse smartpen and my BlackBerry smartphone. The Pulse smartpen should be a huge success in the professional service industries and I expect it will be used by millions of doctors, lawyers, and engineers who must retain copious notes on everything they do. In fact, I suggested a Pulse to a doctor friend some months ago and soon after, received an angry phone call from his assistant demanding to know when she’d be getting a Pulse!
It is amazing that a small, simple, and common piece of technology can have such a profound impact on how we work, but the LiveScribe Pulse Smartpen is just such a product.
This pen is well worth the cost and will last years.
If anyone in your life has issues with technology but needs help getting organized or takes a lot of notes, strongly consider the gift of an easier life in the form of a LiveScribe Pulse smartpen.
The Pulse Pen Specs
2GB = $149.95
4GB = $169.95
Several types of notebooks and accessories are available.
About The Dot Paper
There are many paper options. You can even purchase UK-sized paper.
Check Livescribe.com for current offerings.
- Single Subject Notebooks
- Flip Notepad, 4-Pack, Black Cover
A pocket-sized (3″ x 5″) flip notepad with a protective black cover makes it convenient for quick and easy note taking on the spot.
- Lined dot paper replacement flip notepads.
You can see this pen in simulated action on this LiveScribe page
Note: This review was written July 2009. It’s still accurate, but the pen keeps getting even more powerful, so use this as a basis for your expectations, not as the last record.