Livescribe 2GB Echo Smartpen review

The Livescribe Echo Smartpen brings note-taking into the 21st century

Livescribe 2GB Echo Smartpen
A handy, if restricted, tool for note taking

TechRadar Verdict


  • +

    Good handwriting recognition

  • +

    Sound recorder

  • +

    New Connect software


  • -

    No OCR

  • -

    Connect software a bit hit-and-miss

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Taking notes when you're out of the house or office can sometimes be frustrating. It is not always possible to take your netbook or laptop with you while you travel, and typing on a smartphone can be fiddly and uncomfortable.

If you have a pen and paper on you, you might find that the note you've hastily scribbled is lost or forgotten about before you get the chance to type it up on a computer.

Although the 8GB version of the Livescribe Echo has been around for a while now, its £200 price tag meant that unless you needed to take a lot of notes, it was too expensive to be a worthwhile purchase.

However, Livescribe has just released 2GB and 4GB versions of the pen, with the 2GB option selling for just under £100.

The Livescribe Echo Smartpen has some great features that make note taking incredibly easy. When you write on the provided paper and then connect the pen to your computer, the Livescribe Desktop software imports your scribbled notes as either an image file or PDF, as if they had been scanned in.

Unfortunately there's no OCR functionality built in that can transform handwriting into editable text for use in word processors, though there are apps available if this is a feature you're likely to use regularly.

Sound and notes

Each page of the notebook includes a small 'record' icon. Tap this with the Smartpen and it will begin recording sound with its built-in microphone as you write until you tap the 'stop' icon. Whenever you tap the notes you've written, the pen will automatically play back the recording it took as you wrote.

The new Connect software bolsters the Echo Smartpen's feature set by letting you connect to your email, Facebook, EverNote or Google Docs account, and send notes, diagrams and recordings by writing the name of the service and tapping the pages you want to send, then connecting the pen to your computer.

The results are a bit hit and miss – we're still waiting for a Facebook post to appear long after we connected the pen – but it's a promising idea.

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