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Livescribe Sky WiFi Smartpen review
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Old 13th November 2012, 07:33   #1
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Default Livescribe Sky WiFi Smartpen review

For a relatively niche company that has only been around for five years, Livescribe has grown quickly. Its smartpens -- which cleverly digitize handwritten notes and audio -- have already attracted a million users. However, just because these customers prefer to write their notes the old-fashioned way, that doesn't mean they aren't also obsessive about technological progress. In fact, many of them have been waiting on one new feature in particular: a totally wireless workflow, which would allow them to write a note with their smartpens and then -- without any docking or syncing -- see their scribbles appear in the cloud and on their mobile devices.

Well, as you've probably guessed by now, that is precisely the gap that the new Sky pen is looking to fill. The first half of its operation is identical to that of its predecessors, the Pulse and Echo: it contains a camera and microphone, which enable the capture of handwritten notes and time-linked audio files. (You can choose between 2GB, 4GB and 8GB of built-in storage.) But what happens next is totally different. You use "buttons" printed inside Livescribe's proprietary stationery, in conjunction with the pen's OLED display, to select a local WiFi network, enter the password and sync your files directly to Evernote. The popular online note-taking platform then handles everything else, automatically filing the text and audio in the cloud using a time stamp, making it available on whatever devices run Evernote's apps or web interface. What's more, it makes the note searchable through optical character recognition (OCR) of your handwriting.

If there's a downside to users getting what they've been asking for, it's that they are the ones expected to pay for it. The Sky's base model matches the Echo's $170 launch price, but that older pen came with twice as much internal storage, and can also now be had at a discount. Moreover, the 4GB and 8GB Sky pens rise to $200 and $250, respectively, which means this is only likely to be sensible if you really, really dislike writing or typing on a screen. Even assuming that you're totally stuck in your pen-and-ink ways, could a $170 pen ever be worth it? Read on to find out.
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