TL;DR – Those are the Absolute best Good Pens
1. Livescribe Symphony
Absolute best Good Pen
The Livescribe Symphony begins off easy sufficient. It is a sublime pen with just a little of heft to it. That further girth is there to deal with the Livescribe Symphony’s sensor, which matches with Livescribe’s particular dot paper. The pen will use the dots to trace your pen’s actions and digitally recreate no matter you might have written or drawn. You’ll be able to apply it to particular notebooks or print off your personal Livescribe dot paper at house.
The Livescribe Symphony can retailer as much as 1,200 pages of your notes immediately at the pen’s interior garage. However, you’ll be able to ultimately need to offload that knowledge to the Livescribe+ app, which you’ll be able to run on iOS, Android, Home windows, and Mac. The Livescribe+ app too can flip your handwriting into searchable textual content in addition to pair audio recordings along with your notes. You’ll be able to even robotically sync your notes with cloud garage suppliers corresponding to OneNote, Google Pressure, and Evernote.
2. Livescribe Aegir Smartpen
Absolute best Price range Smartpen
Livescribe Aegir Smartpen
Compatibility: Home windows, Mac, iOS, Android ● Battery Existence: 10 hours ● Max Pages: 1,200 ● Audio Recording: No ● Paper: Livescribe Dot Paper
Livescribe can have the most efficient smartpen with the Symphony, however that does not imply it has forgotten those that have a tighter funds for this type of product. The Livescribe Aegir prices round $99 (despite the fact that costs of many electronics had been inconsistent in recent times), and it comprises a large number of the standard you’ll be able to be expecting from Livescribe.
The Aegir smartpen would require you to make use of Livescribe Dot Paper. That may sound like an additional expense, and it might be in the event you purchased the sheets from Livescribe, however simply as with the Symphony smartpen, you’ll be able to make your personal Livescribe dot paper through printing it off to your home printer, ensuring you save even more money and can always get more of the special paper when you need it. You’ll be able to go through plenty of that paper with the Aegir, since it can store 1,200 pages worth of your writing and drawing. The pen will work with a variety of operating systems. And, though it lacks a built-in mic, you can still sync voice recordings to your handwritten notes by using the Aegir with Livescribe’s smartphone app to make “pencasts.”
3. Rocketbook Core
Best Erasable Smartpen
Also a contender for best budget smart pen – it costs just a couple of Hamiltons – the Rocketbook system is a clever and slightly different approach to the smart pen category. Here’s the deal: When you buy a Rocketbook, you get a pad or notebook made of special, erasable paper, as well as a Frixion erasable pen. The pen is just a pen – one that’s filled with erasable ink. The technology is in the paper and the mobile app.
There are all sorts of books to choose. The Rocketbook Core is an ordinary notebook, while the Fusion has pages for calendars, to-dos, lists, and general-purpose notetaking. There’s also a mini notebook, letter-size and executive-size books. (There’s also a book called the Wave which you erase in the microwave, but this notebook wears out pretty quickly. You can’t erase it more than a few times, so it’s a poor value.)
Each book is filled with dots, an array of icons across the bottom, and a QR code. When you’re done with a page of notes, you can use the Rocketbook app to scan the page and upload it to the app, or send it to a variety of destinations like OneNote, Dropbox, Google Docs, and elsewhere. You can choose the destination manually, or let it happen automatically based on which icons at the bottom of the page that you mark with the pen.
And here’s the best part: When you’re done, you can erase the page with a little moisture and a microfiber cloth, and then reuse it. The book lasts essentially forever, and you’ll only need to replace the inexpensive Frixion pens.
4. Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad Digital Notebook
Best Regular Paper Smartpen
Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad Digital Notebook
Designed with executives and working professionals who attend a lot of meetings in mind, the Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad Digital Notebook has most of its brains in the folio itself. You can use any sort of paper you like with the device, so there’s no need to use special micro dotted paper, and running out of paper at a critical moment is never a concern. You do still need to use the special Wacom stylus pen, though – if you use another pen, you can write on the paper, but the folio won’t recognize your input.
Everything you write is captured by the folio, which you can sync with the desktop or mobile app, and can be shared with cloud services like Dropbox and Google Docs. Wacom also offers the ability to convert your handwriting to digital text, though that requires an ongoing monthly subscription.
While the folio pairs with your mobile device via Bluetooth to sync your notes and the folio itself needs to be recharged occasionally, the pen never needs charging, which is a welcome convenience. In addition, the folio is available in two sizes: full letter-size and half-letter size.
5. Neo Smartpen N2
Best Smartpen for Microdot Paper
Neo Smartpen N2
The concept behind the Neo Smartpen N2 should be familiar to anyone who has used a smartpen before. The pen itself has all the brains, which includes a battery, camera, and processor. You need to use the N2 with special micro dotted paper, and on that front the selection is huge – perhaps the largest of any smartpen. You can choose from among memo books, pocket-sized mini books, planners, spiral-ring notebooks, and many other options.
The pen uses standard D-1 type pen tips, which means you can replace the ink with any standard refill so you’re not tied to refills supplied only by Neo. It contains 90MB of storage, which means you can take extensive notes without synchronizing it with your mobile device and not worry about running out of memory. Yes, other pens have more memory – like the 2GB Livescribe Echo – but a lot of that storage is committed to audio. The N2 captures text only.
When you sync the pen with your mobile device, your notes and sketches are stored in the Neo mobile app, and you can also share the files with cloud services like Evernote, One Note and Google Drive.
6. Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)
Best Smartpen for iPad
Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)
The Apple Pencil isn’t your ordinary smart pen; it’s a stylus that turns an iPad into a device that you can write and draw on. Apple has created an almost Microsoft-level amount of confusion around the Pencil by giving two different products – the Apple Pencil and Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) — the same name, barely even distinguishing them on the website, despite the fact that they’re incompatible with one another.
The 2nd Generation pencil works with the latest iPads (the 12.9-inch and 11-inch models) and is a refined, powerful tool for writing and drawing. It is finished in matte white and is flat on one side, which prevents it from rolling around. There’s no Lightning port for charging; its battery charges when it’s attached to the iPad (which it does magnetically).
Like many of the other smart pens in this list, the Apple Pencil lets you write and sketch – though only on compatible iPads. There are a wide variety of apps that work with the Pencil; you can take handwritten notes, mark-up documents, and even edit photos. The downside? It’s a single-use accessory that is designed exclusively for your iPad.
7. Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse
Best Smart Pen for Sketching
Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse
Who said you had to use a smart pen just for notes? The Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse works just as well for notes as it does for doodles. You can sketch away in your Moleskin Smart Notebook while using the Pen+ Ellipse, and the pen will transfer it all in real time to your Android, iOS, or Windows device.
The Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse comes with the pen itself, which features a replaceable ink tip, as well as a notebook to get you started. The pen features a rechargeable battery, so you don’t have to fiddle around with opening it up. And, the device is capable of audio recordings in case you want to make some mental notes while you’re sketching.
What to Look for in a Smart Pen
Smart pens and styluses are fairly niche products – and probably always will be. For many people, a stylus like the Apple Pencil is just one more thing to lose, which is why a lot of people don’t want to carry it around. And when it comes to the other smart pens, the thought of using technology to write notes that’ll sync with a PC can seem needlessly complicated – even if it’s not. The real trick, then, is finding a solution that’s as straightforward and un-complicated as possible, while at the same time solving the most problems along the way.
To that end, it’s helpful to understand what problems you’re solving. Presumably you need to capture text and images to a phone or PC. But how easy does the device make it to get your notes to the cloud, or to share it with others? Does it sync automatically, or do you need to do it manually? And if so, is there sufficient memory, or will you need to worry about syncing the pen too often?
If you don’t want to synf often, look for a pen that has a lot of memory; the Livescribe models have generally large amounts of storage, while the Wacom Bamboo Folio will run out of space quickly. And if you’re comfortable syncing pages manually, consider the Rocketbook.
Most smart pens have special features that distinguish them from similar models. Some can record audio, for example, and store it on the pen itself. That’s convenient, but it can also exhaust the pen’s memory, so other pens do the same thing by connecting to your phone, relying on both the phone’s microphone and storage.
Lastly, think about how you like to work, and what kind of smart pen suits your workflow. Are you okay with the danger of running out of specialized paper, which may smart pens rely on? If not, consider a pen that can use plain paper (like Wacom), or reusable, erasable paper (like Rocketbook).
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Dave Johnson has been writing about gaming and tech since the days of the Palm Pilot. See him shout into the Twitter void @davejoh