Livescribe Smartpen Review & Demo

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 you’ll get a discount on multiple items, plus free shipping.

You have to admit, this is some pretty sweet technology for under $200 😉


About Lynn Terry

Lynn Terry is a full-time Internet Marketer with over 17 years experience in online business. Subscribe to ClickNewz for the latest Internet Marketing trends & strategies, Lynn's unique case studies, creative marketing ideas, and candid reviews...more»


  1. I love your shirt 🙂

    I've got this on my to-get list...Great tool, I can't wait to try it!

  2. Mary Gallagher says

    Hey, Lynn, watching your niche discovery method is such a great way to peer into the "real" jottings of niche drilling. Thanks for the tutorial within the product review.
    As always, I'm "Inspired to Buy" but, practicality speaks, and it goes on my wishlist! Thanks as always for your clear instructions.
    best for now,

  3. Suzanne Holman says

    Thanks for more info about this tool, Lynn!

    I've had this in my cart on Amazon for quite a while...heard about it from a woman with special needs.

    She's found it very helpful in keeping her thoughts organized.

  4. Dan Reinhold says

    How'd you record audio with it?

    Now if they'd just make one that didn't scratch that way...

  5. Okay, I'm sold. This is definitely going on my wish list for 2009. Thanks for checking it out for us!

  6. That smartpen box is huge!!, I thought you were going to pull out a refrigerator!!.

    This review did it for me, I was not too sure about Livescribe before, but their are just so many ways to use it!.

    I keep adding things onto my wishlist thanks to this blog!, its going to cost me a fortune!!;))

  7. Now that is just too cool. No worries Lynn, I too am a member of the geek's anonymous! This is definitely on my buy list! There's just so many things you can do with this!

    And I agree - thanks for letting us sit in on your niche research brainstorming session! How I'd love to pick your brain one-on-one in "real life"!

  8. How I’d love to pick your brain one-on-one in “real life”!

    I wish you could be in Atlanta for the workshop, Anita - that's exactly what'll be going on the whole weekend 😉

    I love your shirt

    Thanks, Michael! I have to give credit: the shirt is swag from IZEA that I got from Blog World Expo.

    How’d you record audio with it?

    It records the audio while you write. It even has earbuds that record in stereo surround sound (not the technical term for it, but you can read up on it on Amazon or at my original post). That's one of its best features! Great for taking notes in class or in a conference and then playing back the audio from a certain section in your notes.

    Thanks for the tutorial within the product review.

    Glad you enjoyed the pencast, Mary! I have a new audio file for Elite Members that explains that in even more depth. Keeping my eye out for a copy of it as we speak so I can get it uploaded!

  9. Hey Lynn,

    I also got the red case and red notebooks! They're beautiful, aren't they?

    Will have my own pencast ready soon. Thanks a bunch for doing and sharing yours.

    Linda M. Lopeke
    The SMARTSTART Coach

  10. Wenningstedt says

    very cool. A thing worth the price. Still under my wish list...might grab myself to own one.

  11. Robert Nelson says

    Almost inaudible sound, no matter what one trys

  12. Robert Nelson says

    Ignore previous post. Sound is okay, when cleaning my A/V receiver must have hit the button that controls the speakers. Is that embarrassing or what?

  13. I have a Livescribe Pen and I love it. It is so easy to use, and a great way to help others in meetings remember what they said if they should forget!!

  14. Carol Deckert says

    Hi Lynn,

    Thanks for sharing your reviews and demos - they really help and I am definitely want that needs tons of "geek-type" help and support!

    This will go on my "maybe" list because I'm just not sure how it could be of value to me in what I do - unless I start to attend more live events.

    I gather there is special paper that is involved, but my question is then how much "stuff" is needed to take that along to events to record notes, etc.

    You are really moving on up with all your techy tools and I love the fact that you continue to share your adventures with us.

    Let me take a moment here to tell you how much I appreciate being part of your Elite Group and having the ability to brainstorm and learn so much for you and the other members. Your Q&A and brainstorming sessions were the first things that got put on my calendar for 2009 - I am looking forward to more learning! Taking baby steps forward, having you for support along the way, has been priceless! Thanks so much!

    Have an awesome week!

    Happy Netweaving,
    Carol Deckert
    Networking Coach

  15. James Guske says

    While at Macworld, I saw first hand how Ed Dale cleverly used the Livescribe pen to create content and leverage activity he was participating in with really very little extra effort. As luck would have it, I was walking past the coffee shop as Ed was having his meeting. I walked in to say hi, sat down, and watched him use the Livescribe in action. Of course I didn't realize (but pleased) that I would wind up on his "pencast!" 🙂 I also noticed that the meeting ended when the pen got full. So, be sure to get the 2 Gig model. This gadget is marvelous and great for content creation.

  16. CouchSurfingOri says

    Love the detailed review... been curious about this product. More so... love your shirt 🙂

  17. Sebastian Martinez says

    Thank you for the review,

    Now, I went to the pen's site and notice that they now (Nov. 09) let you embed the file with a video player for sharing in your site and Facebook

    You may want to update your post with a foot note and embed video.
    Not a sermon, just a thought.


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