The smart pen is a recent advancement in communication technology, used primarily in the business and government sectors. But now, the consumer market has been granted access to this amazing new device which is still evolving even today. These pens are electronic and write in the very same manner as your standard ball-point Bic. The difference however, is that these pens can remember what you wrote and even record audio of those speaking around you, making transcription easier and worry-free.
Just upload the digital data to the software provided and in seconds it will translate your writing into a clean MS Word or PDF file that looks as if you typed it on your computer instead of scrawling it free-hand. Then you can email it or save it on your hard drive or do with it whatever you wish. Some of these pens even communicate with PDA devices and other organization programs as well.
If you think this is something that would greatly benefit your daily routine, we've found some of the best smart pens available right now. This is a technology that is still in its infancy, so there aren't too many on the market at the moment, with only a few companies blazing the trail with their products. Take a look at what we have on this list, each pen chosen for their ease of use, set up, features, accuracy, memory size, and price.
The most user-friendly smartpen you can find on the market. The Echo from Livescribe writes and records audio at the same time, allowing you to store both in memory. Set up is simple and uploading your information couldn't be easier. But keep in mind, you need Livescribe's dedicated digital notebook to use it. Read Full Review
The Echo is a digital pen that comes equipped with a microphone which can record audio while you write. So if you're in a fast-paced environment where you need to take notes on the go, you have the ability to write and record audio at the same time, allowing you to double-check your notes against what was heard earlier.
Starting a new record session is as simple as tapping the tip of the pen to the special tablet that is required to use the Echo, which utilizes the company's MyScript optical recognition software. When you're done, all your written and recorded information is stored in a Flash file that can be uploaded to any PC and transferred to a PDF.
The Echo offers high security as well, enabled with password protection to keep your files and software safe from any prying eyes or fingers. Keep the pen tethered to your computer and watch your writing translated digitally before your very eyes. Another interesting feature on the Echo; you can use it as a mouse on any desktop or laptop. The Echo is available in three memory sizes: 2, 4 and 8GB.
Considerably less expensive, but no less functional, than the Echo, the GPEN200N is an ergonomically designed digital pen using the exact same recognition software as the other pens on our list. One crucial difference between the two, besides the greatly reduced price tag, is the ability of the Mobile Digital Scribe to be used on any surface. Read Full Review
IOGear has made a smart pen that uses a combination of infrared and ultrasound algorithms to read the movements of the ergonomic device in your hand. A separate sensor utilizing the same MyScribe software as the Echo analyzes your positioning and trajectory as you write, making it open to use on any standard 8.5-by-11 inch size piece of paper. Just attach the sensor to the top of your paper and start scribbling away.
This smart pen will even track when and where you pause and switch pages, keeping an accurate account of your writing and the internal memory can store up to 50 pages before needing to be uploaded to the accompanying software. The pen is easily docked via USB which both charges and syncs the unit to your computer. The port will also enable you to stay tethered to your computer to see your writing converted in real time and, just like the Echo, the GPEN200N can be used in lieu of a mouse.
The Mobile Notes Pro takes its name seriously, as this digital pen has been designed for compatibility with all your important mobile devices. A collection of third-party apps are available to share and store your written documents to smartphones and tablets, and there's no need to use special digital paper or surfaces. The positional receiver that comes with the pen does all the work for you, with an optical recognition software that reads your handwriting and easily converts it to text. Read Full Review
The folks at e-pens have built their digital pen for easy functionality and effortless syncing capability with a whole list of apps. After all, that's what a smart digital pen is supposed to do, allow you to write anywhere, anytime to create a clean, easy to read text document. The Mobile Notes Pro offers all of this at a price that is on the higher end of the spectrum yet competitive with the other quality products available.
This pen works on any type of writing paper or surface; you simply clip the infrared receiver to the top of your page and it automatically begins to receive and recognize your writing from the pen. You will need to be delicate in making your mark, as the receiver is very sensitive. Knocking it around or otherwise disturbing the sensor will affect the resulting text, so you will want to be careful when you're writing or sketching; the Mobile Note Pro works great for both.
Make notes or drawings appear digitally via Bluetooth connection in a number of apps such as Evernote, Dropbox, Onenote, even Facebook. You have the choice of inputting directly into the apps or importing afterward. Eight hours of battery life when not using Bluetooth, and a lightweight design make this an easy choice for our list.
LogiPen's product is the least expensive option on our list, and while it performs well in the functionality department, it's not as well made as some of the other options on our list. But that's not suggest this isn't a good smart pen. It handles the basics of electronic capture just fine and offers much of the same functionality as the other choices. But the construction of the pen itself is clearly cheaper than those you'll find for double the price and you have a limited number of pages to store in the receiver before you need to export or download them to another destination. Read Full Review
Another digital pen that uses the positional receiver clipped to any piece of paper or flat surface, the NOTES from LogiPen performs admirably for its low price of around $50 at most online retailers. It does wonders for your daily organization, allowing you to create digital text documents from your own handwriting, sketching, and hand-drawn artwork, and then uploading them to all Microsoft software programs. From there you can edit, share and store your work digitally with an easy to use interface.
There are some drawbacks though, the receiver sensor can't be knocked around or hindered in any way, otherwise your work will come out looking distorted and the receiver can only store up to 50 pages. LogiPen's unit will also let you use it as a mouse instead of a pen, but switching between the two devices is a bit of a pain in the neck. On the plus side, you do get up to 15 hours of battery life. While you will be making a few compromises here (lack of full app compatibility beyond Microsoft programs for example), at this price, if all you need is a device to get the basics done correctly, then give this one a look.
This expensive smart pen isn't really meant for casual consumers who just want something to convert their handwriting to digital documents. However, the Capturx from Adapx offers increased functionality and can also brave the elements but it does require its own specialized notebook paper for use. You will need to purchase the applicable software to ensure you get all of the full benefits from this digital pen, but once you do, it enables you to transcribe and connect your documents to a full array of Microsoft programs, including Excel and more. Read Full Review
So you're probably wondering why this smart pen costs so much if it performs most of the same functions as the less expensive choices on our list. To start, the Capturx has been designed for use in extreme weather. The pen can survive major rainfall and sub-zero temperatures, so it's well-suited for those users who find themselves in specific situations. The military, for example, uses these pens because of how well they stand up to inclement environments.
As for the standard functionality of the pen, the Capturx uses a camera installed at the tip of the unit to create a digital print of almost anything including your handwriting, sketching, and drawings. It does this by interacting with the microdots embedded in the specialized surface of the required paper needed for operation. Syncing the pen to your computer is very simple with the Capturx software, and you can fill out any number of forms that you can print out on the microdot paper for total digital capture.
Bluetooth capability lets you connect the pen to your mobile devices, making it entirely portable. Battery life is respectable if you're not using the Bluetooth setting, but the storage capacity tops out at 50 pages. But it's really intended to be used directly with the Capturx software, sending your documents directly to your PC or devices, so this shouldn't be a major issue, unlike the LogiPen, which doesn’t allow you to interact with tablets and smartphones.