I have been looking into smartpens again. I carry the Livescribe Echo smartpen with me, which is useful for taking notes at meetings (and sharing pencasts with students), and use the Papershow smartpen for live and recorded presentations, but I am always on the lookout for something new. Apen’s A2 smartpen looks like something I would like to work with. There are four variations on the smartpen that the company sells, and the A2 is closest to my needs. The pen works with any paper (rather than the dot paper that the Livescribe and Papershow smartpens need), with the digitized content received by a combination of table-top device and a USB cable.
Anyway, I give a basic overview of how I currently use my existing smartpens here. I plan to compare some of the various devices on the market later in the year.
Sanjay Deshmukh shared a very useful piece of information with me today. Both of use use the extremely useful Papershow smartpen. Sanjay was able to find a some great deals on supplies through the company WhiteboardSelling. It looks like this will be the cheapest option to resupply on ink refills and paper.
I started using the Livescribe Pulse pen in July of 2008. I was pretty excited about how the smartpen could be used in education by both faculty and students, but there were a couple of minor disappointments:
- Non-standard USB interface
- Pen would rollover when left on a flat surface
- Limited export options
- Limited Mac/PC integration
Livescribe has just announced an updated pen (the Echo), and it looks like some of these issues might be fixed. More information is on their blog and website.
The three most interesting new features to me are:
- “Pencast import/export: save and share pencast files locally to your desktop or a server. Notes can be sent to others as an integrated audio/notes as an attachment. Anyone with the Livescribe Desktop software (free download online) can now open, view and interact with a native Livescribe file.”
- “Pencast Player from Livescribe on Apple iPad, iPhone and iTouch: enables users to access pencasts anywhere they go with a simple touch (free from the iTunes store later this summer).”
- “Livescribe is also introducing collaboration software, Paper Tablet, that lets consumers communicate in real-time, directly from a Livescribe notebook to a Mac or PC using an Echo smartpen and a standard micro-USB cable.”
I am looking forward to see which is the better tool for faculty to use in the classroom – the Canson Papershow (which uses a Bluetooth connection) or the Livescribe Pulse with a tethered USB connection. Papershow has a new website focused on primary and secondary education (http://www.papershowforteachers.com), but use is applicable within higher education.