Digital pens are great for taking notes. As you write, these pens track your pen strokes and create a digital page that you can upload to your computer for easy storage, archiving, editing and sharing. So when you lose your notebook or you need to find notes you wrote a year ago, you can easily find them on your computer. However, very few digital pens are capable of interacting with mobile devices, both in uploading digital pages to mobile apps and as a stylus that writes directly on the surface of a tablet or smartphone. The Livescribe 3 Smartpen is solely for a mobile platform.

Livescribe made its name with smart pens that record audio in synchronization with your notes. These electronic pens provide the most comprehensive notes. The Livescribe pens use a camera in the tip to track your pen strokes in relation to microdots printed in a patented Anoto pattern   a pattern of nearly invisible dots on the paper. This creates a digital page while also recording audio as you write. So when you want to access the audio from a lecture, you simply touch the pen's tip to any part of your notes and the audio will play from the moment you wrote those notes. With a Livescribe pen, you no longer have to be an expert note taker.

Unfortunately, all the technology packed into the Livescribe pens makes most of them look and feel more like a marker. In addition, with LCD screens and an oddly flared shape, the gadget-look of these pens attracts attention. However, the Livescribe 3 Smartpen actually looks and feels like a pen. It's elegant and professional, matching the sleekness of your mobile device.

Like its predecessors, the Livescribe 3 creates digital pages and records audio. Unlike its predecessors, this digital pen pairs with tablets and smartphones to record and sync audio, solving one of the biggest issues with the previous Livescribe digital pens   the placement of the microphone. Because earlier Livescribe pens have the microphone in the body of the pen, the audio often has unwanted noises like the sound of the pen scratching the surface of the paper or your hand positioning for a better grip.

With the Livescribe 3, the recording duties fall to your tablet or smartphone. By using the high-quality microphones in your mobile device through the Livescribe+ mobile app, the recorded audio and playback is much better. Since the microphone is away from your pen, you can take notes with the confidence that sounds of your pen streaking across the page won't clutter your audio and interfere with your ability to hear the important audio.

However, this feature also means that you have to own a tablet or smartphone to use the Livescribe 3 Smartpen. Not only does it require mobile devices for recording audio, but the Livescribe+ mobile app is also the only platform for storing, editing and sharing your digital notes. Digital pages you create are not compatible with previous Livescribe desktop software. In addition, the Livescribe 3 and its companion app are currently only compatible with iOS mobile devices, though Livescribe plans to make it compatible with Android devices in 2014.

Another significant innovation to digital pens is the stylus tip   a round black rubber tip on the opposite end of the pen that feels like an eraser. This stylus tip allows you to use the Livescribe 3 directly on your tablet for writing, drawing and navigating within other apps and programs. In this way, you can use this pen to write physical notes in your Livescribe Notebook, and then use the stylus tip to sketch in a drawing app on your iPad or precisely navigate a game.

With the Livescribe 3 Smartpen, Livescribe has shown why these pens continue to dominate the digital pen market. As tablets become more common, you can expect more digital pens to follow in the same path as the Livescribe 3 by making the digital pen more compatible with a mobile platform.

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