A Livescribe smartpen is a clever tool that will help any professional, student, educator or note-taker in innumerable ways.
Like any regular pen, a smartpen uses ink and paper. You take notes just as you always have, with or without doodles and diagrams. When it is turned on, a Livescribe smartpen will remember every pen stroke you make on any page in any one of your Livescribe notebooks.
What is more, you may optionally activate a microphone to automatically synchronize what you hear to what you’re writing.
Which Smartpen is right for me?
There are two families of smartpens available: the "Echo" and the "Symphony". The two types are differentiated by answering the following three questions:
- Where is the data stored?
- How is the data transmitted?
- Where is the microphone physically located?
Where is the data ultimately stored? On your computer hard disk.
How is it transmitted? Via USB cable.
Where is the microphone? Integrated right into the Echo smartpen.
The Echo-2 smartpen transmits data via an included USB cable to a free application called "Echo Desktop" which you download for free to your computer (scroll about halfway down).
The data you create is stored on the hard disk of your computer (Windows or Mac, English or French).
Your handwritten notes and audio can then be viewed, organized, searched and shared in a number of ways, including Evernote, Facebook, GoogleDocs, PDF and more! For an Echo smartpen, you need not have direct access to the internet, but you do need a computer to run Echo Desktop. That computer can be Windows or Mac (English or French).
Where is the data stored? On your mobile device (Android or iOS).
How is it transmitted? Via Bluetooth (requires v4.0 / Low-Energy).
Where is the microphone? Uses the microphone in the mobile device.
The Symphony smartpen is a phenomenally useful accessory for your mobile device (such as an iPad, iPhone or Android), but it requires such a companion device to function fully.
How to choose between Echo-2 and the Symphony1) It is mostly a question of personal preference. Both models work great!
2) We often recommend that you ask yourself the following question: where do I do most of my real work?
3) If you do your "real work" on a PC, you are likely to prefer using the Echo-2.
4) If you do your "real work" on a mobile device (iPhone, iPad or Android), then the Symphony is likely to be the better choice.
The microphone for the Echo models is physically in the smartpen. You do not need another device to record audio.
The Symphony leverages the (sometimes higher-quality) microphone in your mobile device, but it also means that your mobile device must be present/available, charged, have the Livescribe+ app installed and running in the foreground.
What else should I know?***
What are the differences between the Symphony and the Aegir?
What are the differences between the 2gb Echo and the 8gb Echo?
The two smartpens function identically; the 8gb does obviously have four times more memory than the 2gb. The Echo 2gb is adequate for most circumstances. The 8gb model is recommended if you need more storage, and will appreciate the convenience of not having to archive older notebooks nearly as frequently. The 2gb model can typically store 170 hours of audio before archiving becomes necessary, whereas the 8gb model can store up to 760 hours of audio.
What happened to the original Echo, and to the SKY smartpen?
The Sky smartpen was discontinued by Livescribe in 2014 and is now no longer available. The following information is provided for reference only.
The Sky smartpen is configured to transmit data over WiFi directly to your free Evernote.com account on the internet. No computer is required and notes can be taken anywhere (with or without an internet connection). Notes can however be uploaded to Evernote only when you are at a hotspot. For a Sky smartpen, you do not need a dedicated computer but you do need occasional access to WiFi and to your online Evernote account. Where: in your online Evernote account . How: via WiFi to the internet.
The Livescribe 3 is the predecessor product to the current Symphony smartpen. The Livescribe 3 was discontinued in 2019. Similarly the Aegir family of smartpens was discontinued in 2021 and is fully replaced by the Symphony.
What is Evernote?
Evernote.com is a cloud-based (internet-based) repository for all sorts of files (not just Livescribe content). Your handwritten notes and audio can then be viewed, organized, searched and shared in a number of ways! For a Sky smartpen, you need direct access to WiFi to upload data, but no computer is required! All Livescribe smartpens (Echo, Sky and LS3/Aegir/Symphony) can push data to Evernote. Once uploaded you may access your Evernote account from almost any internet-connected device including iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows and of course any connected computer (PC, Mac, Linux or other).
What is OneNote?
OneNote.com is a Microsoft product, similar to Evernote. It is a cloud-based (internet-based) repository for all sorts of files (not just Livescribe content). Your handwritten notes and audio can then be viewed, organized, searched and shared in a number of ways! Software exists to allow pages from a Symphony/Aegir/Livescribe 3 smartpen to be synchronized automatically from your mobile device to OneNote. Once uploaded you may access your OneNote account from almost any internet-connected device including iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows and of course any connected computer (PC, Mac, Linux or other).
Still have questions?
Please Contact Us if you have any other questions!