PROS / Wifi syncing, audio recording and downloadable apps make this the most versatile digital pen.
CONS / The pen requires special paper.
VERDICT / The Livescribe Sky Wifi Smartpen is the best digital pen because you can sync audio to your notes, turn your sketches into a digital format and download apps to entertain or improve productivity.
The Livescribe Sky Wifi Smartpen is the third-generation digital pen from Livescribe. With the addition of wireless capabilities to the already established Livescribe audio recording technology and downloadable apps, this pen is so much more than a tool for taking comprehensive notes – it is the Swiss Army knife of electronic pens. It's a microphone, a speaker, a calculator, a dictionary, a piano, a stock quote ticker, a mouse and a lot more. For this reason, the Sky wins our Top Ten Reviews Silver Award for digital pens.
There are three different models of the Livescribe Sky Wifi Smartpen: 2GB, 4GB and 8GB. The only difference between the pens, other than price and storage capacity, is that the 8GB model includes a one-year subscription to Evernote Premium – an app that allows you to sync your pencasts, notes and sketches with all your devices.
You can use the Sky Wifi Smartpen across a broad platform of devices in real time. Your notes, sketches and audio automatically sync to your computer, tablet or phone through the cloud, eliminating the need for a USB cable to transfer information.
This Livescribe smart pen has the ability to record audio in addition to your pen strokes. This is an excellent feature if you're worried about information slipping through the cracks as you take notes during a lecture or business meeting. With the audio, you can always return to the information repeatedly for maximum retention.
In addition, the pen's microphone syncs the audio with the camera to develop a timeline to your notes. If you want to return to a specific segment of a lecture to clarify parts of the notes you took, all you have to do is tap your pen to your notes and it will replay the audio from the exact moment you were writing those notes. This minimizes the time you'd spend searching through an audio recording for the specific information you need.
However, because the microphone is in the pen's shaft, it will record unwanted sounds, like the pen running across the paper or your hand repositioning for a better grip. These noises can slightly muddle the audio enough to be a significant distraction.
Another drawback to the Sky Wifi Smartpen is it won't work on just any writing surface like many of the other digital pens we reviewed. It only works on a paper that has a microdot pattern. Once you've run out of the pages in the included Livescribe notebook, you'll have to order another one, which costs considerably more than the average college ruled notebook.
The Sky Wifi Smartpen has a thicker body than a typical pen, so it can feel unnatural in your hand at first. Unfortunately, with all the technology in this pen, you have to sacrifice comfort, especially if you have small hands.
The battery life for this electronic pen is 10 hours. If you're judicious with the Wi-Fi and you're careful to turn the pen off when you're not using it, the battery can last up to three weeks between recharges.
The cloud service that Livescribe has partnered with is Evernote, though it is compatible with other cloud services. Evernote organizes your pencasts, notes, audio and sketches so you can easily access, search and share information. It comes pre-loaded with several apps, like Paper Piano, Printed Calculator and Stock Quote. You can also download additional apps with categories that range from language translators and dictionaries to games and productivity.
Help & Support
When it comes to helping users, Livescribe leads the pack. The website offers many avenues for help and support. There are detailed video tutorials. You can chat online with a Livescribe Agent or call a customer service number. You can also consult an extensive online forum where other users have posted tips, concerns and pencasts. With Livescribe, there is no shortage of support to make sure that you're getting the most from your electronic pen.
The Sky Wifi Smartpen allows you to digitally capture your pen strokes and sync audio to your notes. Along with this, the downloadable apps give you a comprehensive way of collecting, disseminating and retaining information. The Wi-Fi capabilities allow it to sync to your mobile devices and computer, making it easy to store, archive and share your notes. With all these capabilities, the Sky Wifi Smartpen is one of the best smart pens available.