Let’s be realistic here; the vast majority of people at work use pen and paper as well as their digital tools. If you do, and you are managing vast amounts of written information which you use to manage your priorities, you might find this useful.

I have been using the new Livescribe3 smartpen on the road in meetings and conferences for the past 2 months. It’s good. So, I’m putting up a few pointers for you here.

In the back end of 2013 Livescribe released their newest Smartpen, called ‘Livescribe3’. It is a Bluetooth equipped smartpen designed to be paired with up to four iOS7 iPhone / iPad devices.

I explained why I ditched my Montblanc Meisterstuck pen for the Livescribe Echo for business meetings back in the summer of 2011

Basically, I was fed up rewriting / writing up my notes taken in business meetings when I got back to the office or back home after a long day. Using an open laptop in those meetings was (and still is) a barrier to effective communications – and Tablet / Phone on-screen keypads and handwriting recognition apps were just toooooo sloooow.

Besides which, I like writing my notes, expressing my thoughts and drawing helpful charts, diagrams, doodles and mindmaps on paper. It is more visceral, immediate and natural for me. And, importantly, it does not get in the way of my engagement with people in my meetings.

So, what is the new Livescribe3 smartpen

It is a good looking pen with a productivity purpose.

It is the 3rd smartpen offering Livescribe3 productivity toolfrom Livescribe. I wrote about the Echo and the WiFi before. So, Livescribe now offers 3 ways to synchronise our paper notes with our digital tools. All three pens will continue to be sold and supported by Livescribe

For now, think of the Livescribe3 as a downstream device for the iPhone / iPad running iOS7. It is currently only compatible with iOS7 devices because they support low energy Bluetooth technology. Livescribe says it is also working on Android support. Unlike previous models, the Livescribe3 has no on-board controls or displays. Everything is controlled by the app on your iPhone / iPad and the on-page icons in the Anoto notebooks. So, it does look good – see it beside my Meisterstuck in the photo.

Using Livescribe3 as a productivity tool

Getting started is very straightforward. You download the free Livescribe+ app to your iPhone/iPad and once it is activated you twist the barrel of the Livescribe3 to turn it on and it automatically pairs with your device and is ready to use. Mine went through a firmware update but that didn’t take long.

If your iDevice is within Bluetooth range your handwritten notes, written in your special Anoto notebooks, appear on your device in real time. If you are away from your phone or it is turned off the pen will store the data and automatically sync when it re-establishes the Bluetooth connection. It has more capacity than you will ever need, so that is not a problem.

Livescribe3 does not have the built in microphone that earlier models have – it relies upon the microphone in your iPad / iPhone. This means that your device must be Bluetooth connected to create synchronised voice and note taking recordings as well as pencasts. It also means that the recording quality is much better than it was from earlier pen microphones.

The synchronised voice and note recording is a favourite feature for me. It means that I only need to write key words in my notebook, allowing me maximum concentration on the speaker. Importantly, it means that I can go back to specific sections of the voice recording by tapping on the word in my notebook or my device. By the way, I never use voice record mode for 121 business meetings, only using it for conferences etc

The pen can be connected to your laptop or a USB lithium-Ion charger via the supplied USB cable, the Micro USB connector sits under the useful capacitive stylus tip.

Using Livescribe3 output on your iPhone iPad device

The app on your device allows you to view and manipulate your handwriting, drawings and diagrams through 3 different modes; Page, Feed and Pencast.

In Page mode you have a crystal clear, pixel perfect rendition of your written page.

You can ‘Favourite’ Flag and Tag pages to organise them and create actions from them. There is an integrated Search function to find specific text or you can flick through your various pages as you would in a book. You can convert pages to PDF and send/copy to Evernote, OneNote, Dropbox, Box and other compatible applications on your device.

In Feed mode it gets interesting and very productive.

The app breaks down your notes into what Livescribe call ‘Micronotes’ in a creation timeline. Each of these segments can be manipulated.

My most used manipulation is to flick the segment from left to right to convert the handwriting into text. I can then copy the text into an email body, CRM contact form and anywhere else. In this mode your device can dial phone numbers, create calendar and reminder events and go to addresses in Maps. Flicking the micronote area again from left to right converts it back to handwriting. Right to left flick deletes the micronote area.

I use the Pencast mode for listening back to voice recordings I have made along with bullet point notes at events and conferences. It allows me to access key information very quickly.

So, there you have it. Do I recommend the Livescribe3? Yes, absolutely if you use a pen and notebook in meetings or as your natural thinking tools. I’m interested to know what you think. Over to you…….


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