Sunday, November 25, 2012

Livescribe Sky Wifi Smartpen: Handwriten Notes With Audio in the Cloud



Overview:

The Sky Wifi Smartpen from Livescribe is a WiFi enabled pen that has a built in audio recorder. This allows you to digitize handwritten notes which you can sync to Evernote wirelessly when in a compatible WiFi hotspot. (See below for Evernote description) The smartpen allows you to take handwritten notes which are linked to an audio recording of what was being said at the time you wrote your notes. The pen can record audio using a built in or external microphone. Using specially designed note paper, you simply touch "record" at the bottom of the dot paper page and begin writing notes. The camera at the bottom of the pen tracks where you write and the built in microphone records what is being said. The result is that your writing is linked with whatever was spoken at the time. In other words each pen-stroke is linked with the sound that you heard at that time. So if you are in class and your teacher is discussing President Washington and you write "President Washington" later you can playback everything the teacher said about Washington at that time by touching the pen to the words "President Washington."

Many of the pen's functions are accessed by touching buttons printed on the specially designed dot paper with the tip of the pen. When you are done taking notes you simply press the stop button at the bottom of the dot paper notebook and your handwriting and audio recording is automatically synced to Evernote. Click here to view a sample note. From Evernote you can view the note and listen to the audio or share the note.

Click read more below to read the full review.

Benefits:



The Sky Wifi Smartpen has numerous benefits for students, business people, and teachers. The pen allows you to hand write your notes but still have them available electronically. The linked audio is great for reviewing and remembering class notes or business meetings. Also you do not need to worry about using a stylus and tablet.

Set up:



Setting up the Sky WiFi Samrtpen was a bit complicated. Luckily it is a one time set up. In order to connect to Wifi you must use the printed keyboard on the inside cover of your specially designed dot paper notebook. However, you currently cannot connect to wifi networks with hidden SSIDs or networks that require a sign-in or agreement page to connect. Connecting the pen to your Evernote account is very easy.

Hardware:

The smartpen looks like a normal pen but is a bit thicker in order to accommodate all of the electronics. It is comfortable to hold and easy to write with. The pen only includes one physical button which turns the pen on and off. On the front is a small screen, microphone, and speaker. The microphone works well even from long distances, but sometimes picks up the sound of the pen writing. The speaker is adequate for personal use in a quiet room but you can also plug in headphones to the headphone jack on top. The top also has a micro-USB for charging. On the bottom is the ball point tip which is replaceable and a camera which tracks where you are writing on the dot paper. The bottom half of the pen has a slightly rubberized feel that prevents the pen from slipping from your grip. Having wifi turned on degrades battery life but you can turn wifi off by taping the wifi off button on the front cover of your notebook.

Evernote:



Evernote integration is a huge plus for the Sky Wifi Smartpen. It makes it seamless to view and listen to your notes on virtually any devices. Evernote is a free internet storage service designed especially for note taking. Evernote is an online services designed to help you organize notes and information. Evernotes has apps for iOS, Android, Windows Phone, Blackberry, Windows, and Mac. Evernote also allows you to search for text within your notes and organize notes using tags. Evernote also makes sharing a breeze. Your shared pen casts can be view and played on almost any device with the Livescribe player. From within the Livescribe player you can click on any part of your notes to hear what was being said at that time.

Accessories:



The smartpen needs dot paper to work. You can print the dot paper from certain printers or buy it from Livescribe's website. The dot paper comes in notebooks, sticky notes, or index cards and cost somewhat more than normal paper. One small notebook is included with the smartpen. You can add  a recording headset that adds external microphones for increased audio quality. Standard headset such as the Apple headphones with microphone will also work.

Uses:



The smartpen has exciting educational applications. It can be used to help students who have trouble with note taking or who need a little extra help reviewing for tests and quizzes. Students can outline notes and rely on the audio to supplement anything that wasn't written. It could also be used for people with attention issues because if they forget to write down something they can still go back and listen to what they missed. One very exciting application of the pen is for students who are exempt from taking notes. The student who takes notes for the students with disabilities could use the pen to take notes and then immediately email the notes to any student who needs them. This would eliminate any delays in receiving notes and would also not require a teacher to make copies. It also eliminates concerns about the readability of carbon copy notes.

Still To Come:

Sometime in early 2013 a wireless software update will allow you to share your notes to Dropbox, Email, Facebook, and Google Drive. Stay tuned to the Assistive Technology Blog for news about the Sky Wifi Smartpen.

Pricing and Availability:

The Sky Wifi Smartpen costs $150 for 2gb of storage, $200 for 4gb, and $250 for 8gb. Storage is internal and non-upgradable. The smartpen is available online at Livescribe.com and select Best Buy stores.

Videos:







The device was provided complimentary to reviewer .

2 comments:

  1. The Livescribe Sky really is a wonderful improvement on the Echo - the WiFi connectivity in particular was sorely needed.

    Still, I've read in a few places that software functions offered by Evernote are not as comprehensive as the software suite that accompanied the Echo, so maybe people looking to upgrade from the Echo should wait until all the kinks are ironed out.

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    1. The Echo pen tools are a little for polished than the Evernote tools but the gap is being closed very quickly. Also, Evernote can be used on pretty much every platform. I think at this point it is safe to upgrade to the Sky pen, it's a really great product.

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