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Livescribe Sky smartpen and the starter notebook
Livescribe Sky and the starter notebook

From a journalist’s point of view LiveScribe’s original Pulse smartpen was one of the greatest inventions of the last decade.

Pulse was a large ball-point pen that can record sound as you write in a special notebook. It syncs to a computer and downloads the audio along with an image of the pen-written notes. Point the pen at the notes, or your cursor at the on-screen notes and the audio track picks up from that point. There was also an add-on handwriting recognition app.

For my work it was nothing short of brilliant. I could find a quite spot at an event like NetHui, go back over the highlights of a session and write a great, accurate story in minutes.

The day my Livescribe Sky smartpen died

Sadly my Pulse smartpen died. I replaced it with a newer model, the Wi-Fi Sky smartpen. And that’s where my problems begin.

I’ve used the Livescribe Sky smartpen at other events, but NetHui crams more sessions into a day than conventional conferences. The original pen was good for a whole week on a single battery charge, the Sky barely makes it through a working day. In fact, the battery ran out of juice before Monday was over.

That’s not the only problem. Although there’s a solid wi-fi network at NetHui, it was congested at times. I set the pen to sync when I close a file – that’s normally at the end of a session. Syncing rarely takes long, it can take less than a minute, but at NetHui I was often ten minutes into the next session before syncing finished. Not good.

The other change between the Pulse and the Sky was switching from a stand-alone LiveScribe app to syncing with Evernote. Evernote is fine, but being able to turn my handwritten notes into text was a great productivity helper, the new software doesn’t seem to do this.

Between batteries draining too fast and time lost through syncing, I missed some great quotes, I still have handwritten notes, but that’s not as useful as being able to pluck quotes out of the air.

4 thoughts on “LiveScribe Sky smartpen let me down at NetHui

  1. Hi Bill
    If you’re both recording and have wifi enabled then you will be working the battery pretty hard. What I’d suggest is to disable wifi until you need to sync – you can also sync via the USB cable – which might be a better option at the end of each day.

    In relation to hand writing conversion – I’m aware that Vision Objects (the developer of MyScript) is working on a cloud version – given the growth of smart devices the move to the WiFi version and using the Evernote cloud has meant apps that were desktop based (such as MyScript) need to re-architect their software.

    cheers Mark

    • Yes, I think the wi-fi defaults to ‘on’ when it would be best if it defaults to ‘off’. I just turned the pen off, then on again and the wi-fi indicator is on.

      • Hi Bill,
        I think if you turn it off using the icon inside the front cover it should stay off. I can check with the US team if thats not the case.

        cheers Mark

  2. It seems to happen to a lot of things; missing the forest for the trees so to speak.

    Comapnies get too caught up in putting newer fancier features into things to make sure people will throw out the old model and buy it but forget what made it a great thing in the first place… Twitter on your fridge, anyone?

    It’s a shame when products succumb to this and die off, the company never takes the blame, it’s always something else, not them making their product suck.

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