Pros / This pen can record audio without using a smartphone.
Cons / You have to plug your pen into a computer to view digitized versions of your notes.
Verdict / We recommend the Livescribe 2GB Echo Smartpen for college students because you can record audio without needing to get out your smartphone and you can easily listen to the synced audio alongside your notes on a computer or with the pen itself.
The Livescribe 2GB Echo Smartpen is our top smart pen pick for college students because it lets you record higher-quality audio recordings than your smartphone and you don’t have to have your smartphone out – something that many college professors don’t appreciate. However, this pen scored low in our comparison because you can’t view any of your digitized notes without plugging your pen into a computer.
In our writing accuracy test, we wrote out the Gettysburg Address by hand to see how many errors each pen would produce. The Echo Smartpen was one of the most accurate pens we tested and didn’t record any wrong strokes or errant marks. It received an A+ score in the test.
In our drawing test the Echo performed equally well. We didn’t find any errors in our test drawings and we gave it an A+ rating.
This smart pen has a 12-hour battery life, which should be long enough to get you through even the driest history lecture. It charges through a micro-USB port located at the top of the pen, and you can connect the pen to a computer through the same port to upload your notes and audio recordings to the desktop app. You can also plug a pair of headphones directly into the pen and listen to your audio recordings through the pen itself.
We didn’t perform our official setup time test on this pen because there’s no app to download or launch. All you need to do is press the power button on the pen and start writing, which took under five seconds in our testing.
Because it has a built-in audio recorder and headphone jack, this pen is much wider and heavier than the other digital pens that we tested. If you have small hands, this pen may feel extra wide and awkward. It’s also top-heavy, which means if you write with your fingers close to the point of the pen, you may feel the weight shifting as you write. For these reasons we gave the 2GB Echo a C- comfort score.
The Livescribe Echo can work with either Mac or PC desktops. The software is very intuitive, and the desktop app wasn’t cluttered with lots of features that we wouldn’t use (which was not the case with other pen apps). To listen to a recording, you select the page from the notebook and click on the play button in the bottom left corner. Alternatively, you can click on words in your actual notes and jump to the part of the recording that corresponds to when you wrote the note.
You need special Livescribe notebooks to use this pen. The notebooks have recording and bookmark icons printed on each page so you can easily start and stop recordings with the press of a pen tip.
This pen has a warranty for one year. The Livescribe website has an FAQs section as well as tutorials that can help you use all the features included with the pen.
The Livescribe 2GB Echo Smartpen is a useful pen for college students who want to make audio recordings and have them synced to their written notes. The pen itself is heavy and awkward, but the ability to listen to recordings directly from the pen and the easy-to-use desktop app makes this a solid smart pen choice.