Livescribe Pulse pen

Hi everyone, long time no post. I've been fighting the battle between hi and lo tech for some years now, needing the experience of writing and planning on paper, but required to use tech for work (and I also like my iphone!).

The other day I bought a Livescribe Pulse pen at Target and have been playing with it both at work and at home. I have to say that I am impressed, and that this tool has made taking notes on paper practical, giving me the ability to include audio that is linked to the notes, upload handwritten notes to computer and do word searches on the notes.

It doesn't do conversion to typed text natively but there is a 3rd party app available that can do it. However, I haven't had a desire to try it yet - what I really wanted was the ability to capture my handwritten notes digitally for storage and review. I didn't think I would use the audio function so much, but am finding that it is really helpful during meetings, for example, to review later in case I missed something that was said.

Check it out at - I've only seen it mentioned here at DIYPlanner in a couple of posts so far but I think this tool has a lot of potential.

No, I don't work for livescribe, I'm just a customer.

I've twitted some of my experiences with the pen as well as some "hacks" that I have done over on


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Cool, but..


I looked at it, and it looks cool--what I would use it for would be grabbing doodles to send to other people. Can you do that? If I draw something on the paper and upload it to the software, can I send the drawing to someone else without uploading it to their website? I'd rather just attach the jpg to email. No need for audio.

I can think of other uses, uploading notes on particular subjects to save for later.. But I think it would be a stretch.

What I can't find is any reference to what kind of ink it uses. They just call it 'ink'. Is it a ballpoint pen, or a gel pen or something else?


Livescribe - I'll experiment

Hi shris, I'll experiement and let you know what I find out. Anyone else have things they'd like me to report about this pen?


I'd be interested...

... to know how long a meeting this pen can record and something about the sound quality.


Livescribe pen memory

So far I've got about 20 pages in a couple of different 5.5" x 8.5" notebooks with about 3 hours of audio linked, and it has hardly used any of the 2G of memory of the pen. I think I could easily fill a notebook with hours and hours of audio before I filled the pen and had to archive off or delete from the pen and have the info in the desktop only.

I also discovered that I can copy the entire "My Livescribe" folder to my other laptop and have all my data there in the desktop software, which is free to download.

There are 3 different audio quality settings. I've been using it on the default "medium" quality setting and it's quite good. Maybe I'll experiment with the other settings at some point.

The pen come with a pair of earbuds which have microphones in them - you can plug the earphones into the top of the pen and then the pen records using the earbud mics in 3D - so if someone is talking and walks from left to right, you'll hear that when you listen later on. I haven't played with this at all yet, but people report that the audio quality is excellent when recorded with the earbuds. You don't have to have the buds in your ears to record - just hang them around your neck.


Love my Livescribe Pulse pen

I recently purchased a 2G Livescibe pen and I love it. I am a professor/musician and have found it really useful. I have even made piano keyboards that i have taped to my instruments to use as tuners. I press on the key on the keyboard and the pen emits a pitch. Very cool! I also take a massive amount of notes and have found it easy to keep myself together across all my classes. I also supervise student teachers in classrooms and when I am observing, I can record what the student teacher is saying and then go back and have THEM hear what they just said. This is a diagnostic tool that is immediate and authentic. My greatest hope is that Livescribe produces paper that is small enough to fit into my Levenger Junior size notebooks. I could cut the paper down that I print....but I feel that that is a waste of "special dotted" paper that makes the pen work. Ideas? Levenger---listening?
"To fly, we must have resistance."

Levenger & Livescribe Printable pages

OMG! I was thinking the same thing. I want to buy a Levenger cover and hole punch and print my own Livescribe pages, but not in 8 1/2 by 11, but something smaller.

Any ideas on if I change the size of the paper I am printing to, if the dots will still work, didn't want to lock up my pen if it didn't.

Has anyone tried this yet?



I read fairly deep into the website at one point, but I am not an owner. The dot pattern they are working with is freakin' huge. It's like the size of ...I dunno, they say how big it is in there somewhere. Like a state or a continent or something. So they're chopping up little pieces of this gigantic pattern to make letter size pages.

I don't see why you couldn't chop up your pages even smaller as long as you don't change the size of the dots themselves. OTOH, if you rotate your pages, in your note software your stuff will be upside down or 90 degrees off.

What you *wouldn't* want to do is put the dots on a page and then print a zillion of that page--that would cause you problems.

Point is, the pen can only 'see' a small area of paper while you are writing on it. So it isn't going to care if you cut the paper smaller after it's printed. Not sure about the control buttons, though. It seems like you ought to be able to put your control buttons on the cover of your notebook and just have dots for the rest of the pages.

You might want to stick with a nice round size like quarter-letter instead of 3x5 or 4x6. It'll still fit in the back pocket of your jeans, top-bound.


Size of the Anoto "sheet of paper"

When I first looked at this - I thought it was a novelty - neat, but what would I use it for? I have gotten more intrigued as I think about tying recorded sounds to notes - and embellishing notes with spoken words upon reviewing them - brainstorming - idea development - creative writing - recording fast flowing ideas with words -both written and spoken - notetaking in meetings or classes. I am thinking of getting one - someday, maybe.

I was surprized at the dimensions of the Anoto "sheet of paper" defined by thier technology.
The size is stated to be equal to the continents of Europe and Asia combined. It's over 27 million square miles - chop it up into letter size pages and it yields over 6 trillion sheets.

Livescribe lives in one neighborhood of this continent. Maybe just a city block - more or less. This is the "world" as the pen computer knows it - and it can map anything you write and the sounds that were occuring while you wrote it (or that you record and tie to the written images later) That is room for lots of notes - I get writers cramp just thinking about it.


more paper sizes

Livescribe now has a journal with an elastic band that looks kind of moleskine-ish. And a flip-top notebook. And sticky notes.

Pencasting will let you share

When you buy a Livescribe pen, you get an area on their website to "pencast." You can share your work that way. I love my pen and have found it has made my work with students teachers a "value added" experience for both of us.

"To fly, we must have resistance."

Livescribe ink

It has it's own link cartridges that last a long time. I use it to observe student teachers in the clasroom. It is unobtrusive, unlike laptops, etc. Then I debrief with students after the class and they can hear their questioning terchniques or whatever strategy I am asking them to improve or make note of. It is a great tool. I can upload it to the Livescribe site and then the students can click in my notes (privately) and hear what was happening at the time. Useful tool for my profession! I also use it to make Pencasts of lecture materials where I draw or compute and then I just play it back in class. I like to do this when doing math problems. It makes me nervous to work problems in front of the class. I then post this pencast on my Blackboard course site and the students can review the assessment techniques as often as necessary to "get it."

"To fly, we must have resistance."

Great at workshops

Thanks for posting this, sarah!

I bought mine a few days before a workshop and it worked surprisingly well. It not only captured my handwritten notes, it got most of the talk as well. I love how you can click on an area in your notes and it will replay the audio from when you were writing that note in particular.

You do have to use their special paper (or print it out yourself - but it's trickier than it sounds apparently; I haven't tried it) but that's the only drawback that I can see. Have you tried printing your own paper? I'm not sure how they track it in the software since they use "notebook 1" etc.

They came out with their Mac software a couple of weeks ago, and that has been helpful to me. You can also export to Evernote, but so far I've only been able to figure out how to do that one page at a time. That's probably operator error, so if you have any hints, I'm listening!

Livescribe paper

I haven't tried printing my own paper. I don't feel a need to. I rip out pages from the starter notebook and carry them around with me though, and the pen still knows that they belong to that particular notebook and what page it is. I'm thinking of rebinding it with Circa discs, or even cutting the pages up into 3"x5" pieces like index cards and trying that to see how it works. I think Livescribe should put out sets of 3x5 cards... that would be cool.

In April however, new notebooks will be available. There is going to be a flip-top notebook (I don't know what size) and also Paperblanks is going to put out smaller notebooks, which I think will be nice for personal journaling - easy to carry.

I posted a long post last night about the ink cartridges and included links to a picture showing the size comparison between the Livescribe pen, a Dr. Grip and a Levenger Truewriter plus showing the ink cartride. The ink is like a mini ballpoint refill, only shorter. My post is still hung up probably waiting to be approved since it includes links, but if you want to see the photo now, you can go to twitpic dot com slash 2cc4v.


I am with you on the 3x5 idea!

I would also like Livescribe to produce 3 x 5 cards and the Junior size Circa from Levenger. It is my favorite size to carry around.

"To fly, we must have resistance."



Best Buy has paperblanks livescribe notebooks and even 3x5 flipbooks:


Circa notebooks from printed Livescribe paper

I make my own notebooks using the printed paper and Circa notebook shells. Nice system!

"To fly, we must have resistance."

Multiple pages

I'm able to do multiple pages by selecting them all (ctl-click in windows) and then print->whatever you want.

The linking of audio to text is nice. In meetings, while recording, I often just write down key words, then can go back and listen to the full deal by just clicking on those key words.

You can also simply record without writing anything, then later on you can link the recording to handwritten notes by writing as you listen to the audio. This is a very sweet feature.


The joy of analog

I think this pen attracted me so much because no matter what happens, I'll always still have the physical, handwritten notebook (barring fire, or my bird eating the notebook, etc). There is something about physically writing that is different from typing or anything else that just works for me.

I think if Livescribe integrates this technology with more programs like evernote, and if they were to create more paper options like 3x5 cards, maybe even planner pages, it would expand the usability a lot.

They need to make it easier to export the ink+audio as well. Maybe an exportable flash file or something, I don't know.

Maybe they'll even create printable blank pages, so you could print your own stuff on it to mark up like printing the diy planner pages or even a typed document that you could then mark up and record audio as you do so.


*sigh* Cool, but...


I went back to the website after thinking about this thing for a few days and checked the price. All I can say is Ack! Pfft.

$200 for a pen, software, notebook, and accessories is just too spendy for me. I could *maybe* have self-justified $50, but $200 is just not happening. Especially not for plain old ballpoint ink. It should be pretty dang cool ink as a value-add. :)

Ah well, maybe in a few years when it's even cooler. :)



It's expensive. Hello tax return money... and goodbye tax return money!!



Tax return


Yah, my tax return money is already headed for another home--I'm getting ready to remodel my kitchen. And dining room. And utility room. And put on an addition. And knock down some walls.. soon as I save up enough money. :)


Tech support is awesome

Does that help?

"To fly, we must have resistance."

Another cool use for musicians

I am a musician and often need a tuner for my stringed instruments. I draw a piano and tape it to my ukulele or bass and when I need a tuner, I just tap on it with my Livescribe pen and the note is sounded. It is true A=440---I checked it.

"To fly, we must have resistance."

Naming Livescribe Notebooks

The only think that is tricky is that you have to only use one notebook of a certain type at a time. That is, you can only use a single subject notebook number 1 at a time. However, once you fill that one up and use all the paper, you archive the notes and then you are free to start another single-subject notebook 1. I take a lot of notes and I can tell you that it is beyond cool to have different formats of paper for specific purposes. You can rename the notebooks to make more sense to you. I had no trouble printing my own paper to put in my circa notebooks but I had to find a high-end printer--like one that serves a network. So far, I am very happy with it.

"To fly, we must have resistance."

Would Circa be the right thing

One of the pluses of circa is that you can re-arrange the pages, and plop in smaller notes. It seems that, once you got the paper used with the Livescribe, you couldn't re-arrange without confused yourself or the pen.

Just curious, I don't own a Livescribe yet, but I want to, someday.

It works like a gps in it's own world of notebooks

So each page in every type of notebook is unique - rip it out and mix them up in a circa or ring binder and it will always know that page 32 of the number 1 notebook is uniquely identified as page 32 of the #1 notebook - All the notes and audio associated with that page are accessed by the computer in the pen whenever you interact with that page. When you archive that notebook (I don't know if you can archive only parts of a notebook - as I don't have one yet either) you can start a new session with another page 32 from a new notebook -

This is moving up my list of neat stuff I want to buy - not at the top yet, but getting there


I just went on the forum - I will wait a while after reading of some issues - I am not dismissing this product at all - it just seems to me for my needs the technology is still not mature enough - and I would want some organising capabilities in the software. There is potential here if the apps to do more with the captured sounds and note comes up with useful things to do with it.

Livescribe paper and Levenger Circa? Also, lefties?

Hi! I am thinking of asking for this for my birthday. Does it work with lefties? Also, can you remove the paper nad put it into Circa binders or can the notebooks lslide into some Levenger folio cover? I have invested a lot in levenger and want to use my cool cover-Circa or otherwise! Any Junior-size paper for Livescribe?

I am a prof who observes in the field and I bet this would really help me! Carrying a laptop is so intrusive to the atmosphere. Also students often approach me with questions after class and i need to track a lot of information.

"To fly, we must have resistance."

You can do your own dot paper

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

livescribe paper

Hi sporter.
You have to use the livescribe single subject notebook or livescribe journal.

The Pulse™ smartpen works only with Livescribe™ dot paper.

Yes it does work for

Yes it does work for lefties, like me as well :D When you open the starter notebook, there is an option in the settings box where you can change it to left handed :)

livescribe pen

My work sells this product, and it seems to be popular with college students and business men who have to sit in lots of meetings.

When I go to Grad School

this will definitely be a nice little tool. I've spent two weeks trying to digitize a lot of my old notes and I'm still not done - something like this saves a step. So I see why the college kids like it.

Deficient device, deficient support

Bought a Livescribe Smartpen one month ago. The desktop software is not compatible with the pen software. Support services of no use. Spent $200 for NOTHING.

livescribe woes

this has turned into a massive time waster with software upgrades gone wrong, compulsory web connections that dont work etc, and you spend a lot of time listening to things you should have made a proper note of.
Mines going in the bin.

I'm sure you could find a taker...

If it's software that's troubling you, rather than the pen, I'm guessing you could find someone to take it off your hands, rather than having to put it "in the bin".

Too bad

What's stopping you from making "proper notes" with a livescribe pen, just as you did before?

In the bin?

If it's not in the bin already you could consider offering it in the market here. Depending on your price I might be interested.

Pulse vs. Echo

I own a pulse smart pen, and I must say the new echo pens don't look so good. They look cheaper, and harder to hide from teachers. I really enjoy the pulse, but I don't like the company's direction.

Got one a few weeks ago and am loving it.

I just picked up the echo 8gb pen the other week. So far I've been using it a lot in class and occasionally during work. I picked up a set of the bound notebooks (similar to the Rhodia ones that I normally use). Each notebook is different and you can currently be using up to 8 of each type. Each notebook is numbered and they're sold in pairs or sets of 4. You can't use two of the same style notebook with the same number simultaneously since it will confuse the pen. You can however use a 3 subject notebook numbered 1 in combination with a bound number 1 notebook. Since they make multiples of each, you shouldn't really be limited by this aspect. When you complete a notebook, you "archive" it which removes the notebook from the pen's memory and stores it on the computer. Once the notebook has been archived, you can start using a new version of the same one (ie. a number 1 lined journal). In the software, you can organize the pages into "software notebooks" and rearrange the pages. I use the bound journal since I like the size. I then take notes in consecutive order. For me, it's easier to put everything in one notebook and then organize it on the computer than it is to constantly be swapping notebooks and worrying about which notebook to use for which class. I bought the headphones for the pen as well but don't wear them when taking notes. The microphones are better than the one in the pen, so I just plug the headphones in and leave them on the desk while I take notes. A buddy of mine has the echo pen and I was fortunate enough to see his in action before making the decision to buy mine. If anyone has questions, feel free to ask me. I'm using it on a mac and haven't had problems so far, but I've only had it 2 weeks.

banned from colleges?

I'm thinking of buying this for my college daughter. She's very non-geek, but stopped in Best Buy and admired this. However, the salesman urged me to research her college first...he said that many colleges are banning smart pens. A co-worker is using this and loves it to help in managing projects and meeting with clients. I think they are OK at her school..but who's to say they won't change their mind next semester.

banned at schools?

Have you heard anything more about this? I was thinking it might be good for my daughter but if schools object to its use then I probably won't get it.

nothing new

i searched her school's website and didn't see anything against them. i've sent both livescribe and the school an email asking for more information.