You might remember that we mentioned the Pulse smartpen by Livescribe in an earlier post on unusual pens. This is the pen/computer that simultaneously records audio and captures handwriting and can sync the two for later recall.
Today, the company launched two new models and announced that it’s expanding into several more US retailers. And it appears that at least one of the new models is now also available in the UK (at Amazon.co.uk and at Micro Anvika).
According to Livescribe:
Customers can now select a 4GB and 2GB model in a new, stylish titanium color. The 4GB model holds more than 400 hours of recorded audio and provides ample storage for consumers to add applications such as entertainment, education and productivity tools to their smartpen when Livescribe launches its Application Store later this year. The 4GB Pulse smartpen has a retail price of $199. 95 and the 2GB model is $169.95.
(UK retailers are selling the 2GB pen for about £120.)
The smartpen uses an infrared camera at the tip and special paper to track your handwriting, while a sensitive microphone records the accompanying audio.
You control everything with buttons at the bottom of each page, and all you have to do to play back the relevant portion of audio is tap a word on the page.
You can store it all on the pen, or upload your notes and audio to your computer. Livescribe also offers software that will transcribe handwriting to text.
This video is kind of cheesy, but it will give you a look at what the pen can do:
Tim Moynihan wrote a Pulse smartpen review in PC World when the original came out last year and had plenty of good things to say about it. He concluded:
Does the Livescribe Pulse have limited appeal? Definitely. But if you're a starving student, a roving journalist, or just a gadget freak, you owe yourself at least a few minutes with this pen. It's an innovative and useful way to record and navigate lecture notes, interview dialogue, and your own audio recordings.
And he’s right, of course. The pen isn’t for everyone.
It’s expensive and requires the additonal cost of special paper, although Livescribe has said it is working on a way to let customers print the paper from their own laserjets. A few reviewers also have noted that the pen is not particularly comfortable for long-term use because the barrel is hard and does not come with any sort of cushioned grip.
So, it’s probably not the pen you’d want for everyday use jotting down ideas at work or writing in your journal. Still, it would be cool to have, right?
Bottom line: Hang on to your favourite rollerball…but if you have the pounds to spare, order one of these Pulse smartpens and let us know, so that we can envy you.