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Livescribe Echo Smartpen

The write stuff

Writing on the wall

The new software release, out this week, lets you create standard PDFs that do the same thing, and can be played back using the latest version of Adobe Reader 10 for Windows and Mac – no Linux release as yet. For e-mailing large PDF pencasts you can use Adobe's SendNow facility.

Livescribe Echo Smartpen

Livescribe Desktop software keeps track of your notes and audio recordings
Click for a larger image

New too is the "launchline" feature. Draw a short line forward and back on the special paper and the pen goes into command mode. Write a command above the line – "e-mail", for instance – and the pen will pop up a menu on its 95 x 18 pixel OLED display for you to select an e-mail recipient from a list you've set up previously.

Choose the pages or sections of pages you want to e-mail (tap on pages, draw a circle round sections), and next time you dock the pen to the computer the e-mail will be sent off automatically. Similar launchline commands will upload the pen contents to Google Docs, Evernote or Facebook, and you can also set up your own shortcuts, for example "charlie" to send emails straight to a particular colleague, skipping the recipient menu.

Livescribe Echo Smartpen

Not the most slimline of writing implements, but among the most sophisticated

This latest Echo comes at a great price, but you may need to add the binaural headset for another thirty quid. The special Anoto paper, printed with an almost invisible grid of micro-dots that tell the pen its exact location, costs only fractionally more than regular stationery, and if you have a 600dpi Postscript colour printer you can print your own.

Verdict

Is it an improvement on the Pulse? The new shape stops it rolling off the desk, but the microphone seems more sensitive to pen-on-paper scrape, and the small all-too-losable pen cap is a poor substitute for the Pulse's large "cigarcase" protector. While not a gadget that everyone will immediately get the point of, if you do get it then get it. Or even consider picking up the older Pulse at a bargain price. ®

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Livescribe Echo Smartpen

Livescribe Echo Smartpen

Digital pen that not only writes but, using special paper, will interact with the audio recordings you can make with it.
Price: £100 (2GB), 4GB (£150), 8GB (£180) RRP