LiveScribe Wifi Smartpen 4GB review

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LiveScribe Wifi Smartpen 4GB

These devices let you write digital notes using special paper and a pen with a tiny built-in infrared camera that tracks the nib's exact location on the page. Conveniently, this new pen uses a built-in Wi-Fi adaptor to communicate with your PC rather than a wired USB connection. The version reviewed also has 4GB of internal storage, but it's also available with 2GB and 8GB of internal storage. The pen's basic functionality is much the same as that of the Echo Smartpen .

It saves an image of what you write and can also record audio. Pages are stored online in Evernote, which is a program that stores your notes and shares them with multiple devices. If you've recorded audio while making notes, you'll also be able to play the recording and see the notes you've made appear on the page at the appropriate point on the recording's timeline. You can also click any written part of a note to jump straight to the audio recorded at the time you made it. This is particularly useful if you're making notes during a long meeting or lecture. Before you start using the pen, you must register it online.

You're prompted to go to Livescribe's setup page, create an account and link that account with Evernote. Unlike previous versions of the Smartpen, you have to use this popular online service, as there's no desktop application and the applications used by the older Livescribe Echo Smartpen aren't compatible with this cloud-oriented version. Once your accounts are set up and associated, you're prompted to enter the pen's unique code, which appears on its single-line LCD screen, and connect the pen to your wireless network. It's at this point that the pen's cleverness becomes apparent. At the front of the notebook which accompanies the pen is a picture of a Wi-Fi setup pad with buttons and a keyboard. Tapping the illustrated buttons with the nib of your pen triggers the associated functions in the pen itself. To connect it to our wireless network, we first tapped the Scan for Networks icon on the page. Detected networks are listed on the smart pen's integrated screen and you can scroll through them and select the one you want using appropriate icons on the book's setup page before tapping in the password on the illustrated keyboard.

If you don't have access to a wireless network at any given point, you can alternatively sync the pen via a computer, but the PC still has to have an active net connection. We prefer updating the pen directly over Wi-Fi. Other settings can be found via the pen's integrated menu system or elsewhere in the Livescribe notebook. The basic documentation that comes with the pen doesn't go into much detail about configuring many of its settings, but further information is available online. This is helpful, as it's not always immediately obvious how all the settings work. You can set the format in which the date and time is displayed using the pen's onscreen menu system, for instance, but to set these you must use a pad of control buttons on the last page of the notebook.
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