I’ve established before that I am an unapologetic early-adopter-fan-girl-nerd. I love new technotoys. Over the past few weeks, I’ve tested a couple, with surprising (for me) outcomes. Here’s my review of the first.
I’ve been seeing the livescribe pen in class pretty regularly for at least a year now. When I saw it, I thought this could be a great tool for me. After all, not only am I an inveterate doodler, I also have to sketch maps and buildings and design features all the time. Lucky for me, DTLT had a couple and hooked me up. (Thanks, DTLT!) I’m especially glad for this in this case, because it turns out this expensive tool ($100 and up) is not my jam.
The badness started right off the bat. Unboxing and setting up the pen required complicated and poorly documented steps. For instance, pairing the pen with the software required typing a code from the pen into the computer. Except it only came up if the pen wasn’t connected via USB. Took me a while to get it. Then: register, download app, update software… Sigh.
Then it turns out I’d have to connect the pen to my computer to actually upload data. This would be true on campus and probably in most places I would use the pen. If I’m at a conference for a few days, how am I supposed to find non-password protected wifi?!
Then there were other problems. The design of the pen isn’t great. The cap is particularly poorly designed and would get lost very quickly. The notebook – you have to use a special notebook for the pen to work – that comes with the pen has unimpressive paper, though you can get a moleskine (if you’re willing to pay extra, of course.)
And you can’t use color at all. Only the special pen will be recognized. Already, I don’t like ballpoints, but I also like to highlight notes with color. No go with this pen.
The final nail on the coffin of this experiment is something I should have honestly figured out in advance: the main advantage of this pen is that it is great for note-taking. If I were still a college student, this would be my go-to classroom pen. But I’m not a college student anymore. Though I go to lots of meetings, I need to minimize the notes I take, not maximize them. These days, I try to limit notes to tasks I need to accomplish and/or calendar items. So with that in mind, a complex system to save text and voice doesn’t exactly help. Plus, I can already scan my notes and find stuff through OCR while still being able to use the pens and paper I like.
So, final verdict:
For college students: thumbs up. Expensive, overly complex setup, but this is a note-taking helper like you’ve never seen. If you take classes, this is worth the annoyances.
For profs: thumbs down. It’s just not really for us. Use your oldtimey tools like you’re supposed to. Hmpf.