Smartpens to instantly digitise handwriting

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If you have had enough of taking notes or jotting down ideas and plans by hand, only to have to spend more time later typing them up in order to file or send to anyone, the smartpen is the perfect device.

Using an infrared camera, the easy to use Livescribe 3 smartpen connects to your iOS device via Bluetooth to instantly capture a digital version of what you’ve written – it’s a copy of your handwriting though, not a digitised font.

All you have to do is download the Livescribe+ app, accept the prompt asking you to pair the two devices, and get down to writing. The pen has 14 hours of battery life and a flash memory that also allows you to write without your device nearby.

Working with your smartphone or tablet, the pen also allows you to record audio in conjunction with your written notes. You can skip to a particular section of a recording by tapping on a word to start listening from the point at which you wrote down that word.

The catch is that the smartpen only works if you’re writing on the special dot paper from Livescribe, which is speckled with millions of tiny dots that capture what you’ve written. Any purchase of the pen comes with a notebook of the paper, and when you’re done with that you must either buy more from Livescribe or download and print your own.

Each sheet of the paper has symbols along the bottom to help with your writing. There are record, stop, and pause symbols you tap when recording audio, and symbols to let you favourite, flag, and tag particular sections of your writing. You can then transform these sections from handwriting to digital type through the app.

It’s also easy to upload and share your notes with others through Evernote and Dropbox.

The pen can feel somewhat clunky at times, but the fact that using it means not having to type up notes later makes the ‘clunkiness’ easier to deal with.

The pen comes with a starter notebook of 50 sheets of Dot paper, one Tungsten-Carbide ballpoint ink cartridge, and a micro USB charging cable for $199.95.

The Pro edition, priced at $264.95, comes with 100 sheets of Dot paper, a leather smartpen portfolio, two ink cartridges, and a one-year premium subscription to Evernote.