Take better notes with the Echo Smartpen

Many mobile apps and desktop programs have offered intriguing note-taking capabilities, but the truth is: nothing beats handwritten notes. Typing might be more efficient, but even experts will tell you that writing by hand allows you to learn better, retain more information, and stimulates your brain.

For these reasons, subconsciously or not, many students and professionals still choose analog notes over the speed of a keyboard and searchable, typed words.

But if you're a handwriting romantic who embraces technology, you don't have to choose between the conveniences of technology and the comfort of the pen. Meet the Echo SmartpenRead more

Crave giveaway: Livescribe Echo smartpen

First, congrats to Arnav of Temple Terrace, F.L., for winning the Toshiba Camileo mini camcorder in last week's giveaway. Now, for this week's giveaway, we've got a special-edition Livescribe Echo smartpen with 8GB of built-in memory. What makes it special? Well, the folks at Livescribe have provided us with a translucent version that shows off the smartpen's innards. How sweet is that?

Here's what editor Donald Bell had to say about the standard black version of the Echo (read the full review here):

The Livescribe Echo is a ballpoint pen and voice recorder combination … Read more

Echo smartpen melds ink, audio

I have horrible penmanship. I can't write in cursive to save my life. Even my own signature is an absurdly inconsistent mess. Yet, here I am, reviewing a pen.

To be perfectly honest, I was a little terrified to review the Echo smartpen for CNET. In the back of my mind, I was convinced that my unforgivably awful handwriting would cause the little computer inside the pen short-circuit?

As it turns out, good penmanship is not a prerequisite for using the Echo smartpen. In fact, you don't even need to be literate to make its price ($169-$199) … Read more

One on One: Donald and the Livescribe Echo

Donald's back with another product he can't keep himself from sharing with you eager masses. All both of you. And by "share," I mean allow you to look, but not touch the Livescribe Echo. A pen that's more than just a pen.

So we've listened to your feedback based on our first try at this and have changed things up a bit. This time you're forced to look at both our mugs (sorry) and we've improved the adding giant mics. Also, we're the podcast studio. OK, so … Read more

Livescribe writes digital pen's next chapter

Livescribe on Sunday is introducing the Echo--the next generation of its digital pen.

The Echo will come in two models--a 4GB and 8GB model, while the prior generation 2GB Pulse will remain as the company's most affordable option, dropping to $129. The 4GB Echo will sell for $169.95 and the 8GB Echo will sell for $199.95.

From a features standpoint, the Echo resembles its predecessor, with the main selling point being its "paper replay" feature--the ability to record handwritten notes in synch with recorded audio. However, Livescribe has made several hardware changes that make the … Read more

Livescribe announces best-apps winners

If you are a fan of the age-old brain-twisting game Mastermind, you might want to pick up one of Livescribe's Pulse smart pens.

That's because the game, or at least a version of it, was judged the best application for the Pulse pen, a technological wonder that allows users to take notes and automatically synchronize them with an audio recording.

On Wednesday, Livescribe announced the winners of its app contest, a competition in which the company's users weighed in on the best apps available in its store. Like Apple's App Store, many of the most popular … Read more

Glitches mar launch of Livescribe app store

Digital pen maker Livescribe acknowledged on Friday that the launch of an app store for its digital pen has led to a host of problems for many users, including issues that interfere with its main note-taking feature.

The start-up launched a long-awaited app store last month, hoping to boost the appeal of its Pulse smart pen. The store included a range of applications from free games, to language translators, to specialized programs such as a Torah-chanting tutor.

However, since the store launched in beta form on November 19, customers have been experiencing issues ranging from difficulties downloading the applications to … Read more

Livescribe pen gets an app store

It took a little bit longer than the company had hoped, but the Livescribe digital pen now has its own app store.

The store, which requires pen owners to upgrade their desktop software to the new version 2.0, offers a mixed bag of new applications that range from free programs to one that costs $99.

The programs, which all work without a computer, include games like video poker and hangman, along with utilities like a Spanish-English dictionary. The one that caught my eye the most was the priciest app--the $99 Magic Yad application, which works to help those studying … Read more

Digital pen maker Livescribe adds new models

Livescribe said that it is adding a higher-capacity 4GB model to its lineup of Pulse lecture-recording digital pens.

The 4GB Pulse, which can hold 400 hours of audio, will have a suggested retail price of $199. The 2GB model has dropped to $169, a price Livescribe has recently been promoting on its Web site.

Livescribe added Mac support in November and recently released a software update that also makes its pens compatible with Windows 7. The company said it plans to add an application store for the Pulse later this year.

The company is also expanding the number of places … Read more

Duo converts laptops and monitors into tablet PCs

As consumers hold their breath for the rumored Apple tablet, KCI Communications has an immediate and possibly better solution for those who can't wait to get touchy-feely with their screens.

The Duo turns monitors and laptops 17 inches or smaller into a tablet. A small device that acts as a "base station" clips onto the top of the monitor, continuously picking up the user's input with the Duo pen. Lee Jae-jun, head of research and development at KCI Communications, explains the technology: "The pen's coordinates are calculated by the amount of time it takes for the infrared and ultrasonic waves to be reflected from the base station."

The user can write or draw directly on the screen in eight different languages, marking up Web pages, documents, or PowerPoint presentations while using the pen to navigate through the desktop. One of the more remarkable features is that the Duo also converts into a ballpoint pen, letting the user take notes on traditional paper and watch them appear in the included NoteTaker software.

Earlier this year, we reviewed Canson's Papershow, a dedicated paper-to-screen device that's mostly aimed at professionals who want to conduct interactive PowerPoint presentations. A similar gadget is the LiveScribe Smartpen, which is geared toward students, linking audio to written text. But the Duo appears to be is the first device to capture ink and convert a plain monitor into a touch screen. … Read more