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Livescribe 3 review: Turns your handwritten paper notes into digital text in real time

Jeffery Battersby | Sept. 15, 2014
Capturing notes in a classroom lecture or business meeting can sometimes be a daunting task. And, if you're like me, the race to capture the spoken word and put it on paper can sometimes keep you from listening to what's being said next, leaving your notes with Grand Canyon-sized gaps that limit their usefulness. The Livescribe 3 Smart Pen and associated Livescribe+ app for iOS are designed to change the way you capture information, helping you take notes while the app and pen track what's being said in classroom, meeting room, and lecture hall.

Capturing notes in a classroom lecture or business meeting can sometimes be a daunting task. And, if you're like me, the race to capture the spoken word and put it on paper can sometimes keep you from listening to what's being said next, leaving your notes with Grand Canyon-sized gaps that limit their usefulness. The Livescribe 3 Smart Pen and associated Livescribe+ app for iOS are designed to change the way you capture information, helping you take notes while the app and pen track what's being said in classroom, meeting room, and lecture hall.

The way Livescribe works is fairly simple. You need three components: A Livescribe smartpen, Livescribe notebook, and the Livescribe+ app. The app is a free download from the App Store and works on third generation and later iPads and fifth generation iPod touch and the iPhone 4s and later. The pen and initial notebook can be purchased in standard ($150) or pro ($200) editions, each of which includes a pen and enough special notebook pages to get you started. The difference between the standard and pro editions is the accessories that come as part of the kit. Pro includes a leather case and a one-year Evernote subscription. The Evernote subscription just about makes up for the difference in price, so if you're an Evernote user or want to be one, the pro version is definitely the better choice.

Before you begin you need to pair your pen with Livescribe+ on your iOS device, a task that takes just a few seconds using a device pairing link that appears at the beginning of any Livescribe notebook. Once paired, you tap your pen on a link at the bottom of any notebook page to begin recording and taking notes.

Once you begin recording, taking notes is no different than normal, except that the Livescribe+ app, using the pen, also begins capturing audio and your written notes — as you're writing — appear in the Livescribe+ app at a slight delay behind what you're writing on the page. When the lecture is over you use the Livescribe+ app to listen to and, if necessary, update your notes as your re-listen to what was said. The app highlights your notes as you go along so that what is being said and what appears on the page is exactly in sync.

While Livescribe+ is great at capturing your writing and audio as you take notes, the app also makes it possible to turn your written text into typed text that you can then edit in the app's built-in text editor. The app's script-to-text conversion is pretty good, but it is very penmanship dependent. My penmanship is abysmal, so the resulting text was sometimes closer to sanscrit than English. But correcting what I wrote was very easy and those with better handwriting will have much better success.

 

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