Now that I've finally figured out my new Isonic Snapbox HD video cam, I thought I'd unbox the Livescribe Smartpen that I also got last month. Ed Dale turned me on to this cool multimedia ink pen on a November episode of the IMTW Podcast, where he shared it as his pick of the week.
What interests me most about this gadget is the product development angle - the ability to create cool multimedia products (audio, video, pdf) by putting pen to paper, or by sharing conference & seminar notes.
Once I finally unboxed it, I was anxious to try it out. I plugged the USB Cradle into my laptop and downloaded the software, and let the pen get a full charge. It can take up to 2 1/2 hours to fully charge, and it took just about that long.
While I was waiting I set up an account at Amazon S3, which is an inexpensive solution to host an unlimited number of large media files. S3 stands for SIMPLE Storage Service, though I didnt necessarily find it all that simple. Thank goodness for Twitter, and geeky friends!
I confess that I get a little overwhelmed with new gadgets (as you saw with my camera reviews), but the Livescribe Smartpen came with very good instructions and documentation. Once it was fully charged, I opened up the Getting Started guide and sat down to set up the Livescribe Smartpen and test it out.
As you can see, the Getting Started guide is an interactive 3-step process which walks you through setting the date & time, learning how to use the dot paper, and giving you an overview of the features.
I've never seen anything like it - very cool.
Next, I recorded a little pen-to-paper action and then plugged the Livescribe Smartpen into my laptop using the USB cradle. It automatically loaded the project into the software so that I could archive it, review it or upload it to the web. Here's an example of an illustration done with the Livescribe Smartpen:
The only real downside I've found to this gadget is that you have to upload your work to the Livescribe website in order to share it. The flash replay files are proprietary, meaning you cant upload them to other spaces on the web - such as YouTube or your own website.
I found a simple work-around as you can tell by the video above. You can upload it to your Livescribe account, then use a screen capture program to create a video file that you can edit and/or share. I havent worked out all the bugs on that just yet - there's an obvious loss of quality in the transfer.
You can view this pencast on the Livescribe site here. You'll want to click the "view in full screen" option at the top right of the document. And at the the bottom right you can toggle off the grey preview lines for a cleaner presentation.
You probably noticed that some of the lines I drew showed up too early. That was helpful to know for future pencasting projects: try not to connect any lines, otherwise they clutter your presentation.
If you're interested in grabbing one of these for yourself, see the specs & videos on my original post at: Livescribe SmartPen : From Paper to YouTube. If you order at Amazon.com you’ll get a discount on multiple items, plus free shipping.
You have to admit, this is some pretty sweet technology for under $200