Livescribe Goes Skywards 

What started as a Pulse became an Echo and has now entered the Sky as the latest Livescribe smart pen makes an appearance.

livescribe sky wifi evernote pen
click image to enlarge

When watching television, I tend to find that the greater part of my viewing experience is carried out using my Sky set-top box.  Now with the latest version of the Livescribe smart pen, I am also able to make us of Sky to organise my note taking.  I have to point out that these are two different Sky environments.  While one Sky requires a satellite disk and television, the other Sky makes do with a combination of WiFi, the Cloud and the Evernote service.

For those not familiar with the Livescribe product, this is a smart pen that allows you to capture note taking sessions in digital format while also capturing any audio content that might be relevant to your hastily scribbled words and diagrams.  Unlike its main competitor (IRISNotes Executive), Livescribe requires you to use special paper when taking your notes.  This paper features almost invisible dots which are used to aid the pen when it records your written notes.  If the audio recording facility is implemented while you are taking notes then the two types of data will be linked so that by clicking on your notes you can bring up the relevant point during the audio recording.

Previous versions of the Livescribe pen have made use of USB when transferring data

from the pen to a computer running the Livescribe Desktop software.  Both of these features have now been discontinued with the latest version of the Livescribe pen. 

Now connectivity is limited to WiFi and not just your usual WiFi connection direct to

a chosen device such as a computer, laptop or Apple/Android tablet.  A USB option is still available but only for charging purposes.

livescribe sky wifi evernote pen in use
click image to enlarge

Those responsible for the development of the Livescribe way of performing have

 decreed that you and I will need to divert “our data” to the Cloud.  This is not your favourite Cloud repository.  No you are forced to use Evernote as the first port of call for “your data”.  To me it is a bit like being placed in a straightjacket although I must point out that I have little experience of this type of restraint.

I have nothing against Evernote, it does provide a valuable service to a great number of users.  However I do object to being given no choice as to where “my data” will be sent before I can eventually regain control of it.  Livescribe should give users some choice in how and where they want “their data” to be transferred.  In some ways it is a bit like being informed that you can only spend your meagre pittance at a particular Tesco store as the Royal Mint has entered into an agreement with the company.  Yes I know that is far fetched but you know what I mean.

Having said that I have to admit that Evernote does a reasonable job of handling data from the Livescribe pen when expedience overcomes my annoyance at being coerced into giving up temporary control of “my data”.  After synching my Livescribe smart pen with my Evernote account (no choice in this matter), I can retrieve editable versions of my notes (handwriting issues permitting) with diagrams and any accompanying audio.  Sometimes I just press the record button and let the pen do all the work allowing me to concentrate on listening especially in one-on-one sessions where I am asking the questions and analysing the answers.

If you have used the previous version of the Livescribe pen, known as the Echo, then you will be familiar with one design concept of the pen which has caused some problems in the past.  Assigned the task of protecting the pen’s nib was a small helmet-like cap that had a habit of getting lost at every opportunity.  With this Sky version of the Pen, Livescribe has obviously seen the error of its ways.  However rather than correcting the mistake by designing a cap that was less inclined to go missing, Livescribe has bundled a replacement cap, so now you can misplace two caps rather than just one.

While I am a fan of the Livescribe technology, I just wish it did not have the ability to annoy me with various niggles.  The Sky Livescribe pen comes in three flavours.  The 2GB pen will record around 200 hours of audio and is priced at £159.99.  The 4GB version, which I have been using, doubles the audio capacity and costs £!79.99.  The top of the range unit have 8GB of capacity with 800 hours of audio recording plus a one-year subscription to Evernote Premium at a price of £224.99.  System requirements call for Windows XP (SP3) and later or Mac OS X 10.6 and later.

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