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Monday, 23 May 2011

The latest businessman's "must have" gizmo which is actually very useful indeed!

The other day I attended a press event concerning the new Livescribe pen. The 2GB version is priced at just under £100, there is a 4GB version, and the 8GB version is slightly under £180.

We sat through a couple of videos and a demonstration and it was quite amazing. They gave us the 8GB pen to take home and I have been playing with it for a few days now.

The pen as a slot in the top for a micro USB cable and the standard socket for an earphone lead. On the side just below the top is a small screen and an on/off button. Otherwise it is rather a thick, but very light ballpoint pen. However, under the housing by the nib is a video camera which records your writing, more of that later. Inside the housing are very miniature and complex electronics and, of course, 8GB (in my case) of RAM and ROM.

The notepads come in either A5 and A4 spiral bound format, or rather thicker Octavo size hard cover journals, one can also buy smaller flip top notebooks – ideal for journalists, or conference attendees where there is no table in front of you to work on.

There are hidden, very fine invisible to the eye dots on the page which aids the electronics. Along the bottom of the page is a recording button, a pause and an off button. You touch the pen nib on the on button and the pen starts recording sound. There are jump buttons, book mark buttons, a jump to position slider, play back and volume buttons, all operated by touching the point of the ballpoint on them.

You can then go to the website of Livescribe and download the desktop software – only for Windows or Mac as there is no Linux version – and once you have done this, you can share on Facebook, Google, Twitter, email and many others from the pen at the time of taking notes. As soon as you upload the Pen to the software, any instructions are immediately carried out. For a small cost you can download software which will transcribe your handwritten notes into typescript – as long as your handwriting is neat and clear. Mine isn't!

Now imaging that you are taking minutes of a meeting. You set up the pen to record, and you start making notes. First of all you can make shorter notes (more of why later) so you can pay more attention to what is going on. At the end of the meeting you go to your computer and start typing out the minutes. If your note is too brief, or some words are not clear, touch a word, and the pen starts playing back the recording at the point you wrote that section of the note. If you recorded the meeting without taking notes, it would be very difficult to keep on moving backwards and forwards. Touching a word with the point makes it so very easy. But with the MyScribe software you could have all your notes typed out, and then use Livescribe to help flesh out your work.

The people who would find this useful are students at university, managers, directors, lawyers who have to attend meetings, minute takers or anyone else who has to listen and take notes. It could be anyone from a housewife taking recipes down from the television or radio, to a secretary, taking dictation from her boss.

If you have an iPad then you can start working on your meeting notes on the way back to the office, or home as the case may be.

My verdict: A must have if you have a real use for it. Not a good buy if you want it as a toy.

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