Livescribe requires Apple for revamped digital pen

$200 Livescribe 3 uses Bluetooth Smart for syncing between notebook and tablet

The new Livescribe 3 has replaced the OLED screen of previous versions with an LED light. Credit: Bite Global

The new Livescribe 3 has replaced the OLED screen of previous versions with an LED light. Credit: Bite Global

The latest smart pen announced by Livescribe has dropped the microphone, speaker and OLED screen from the previous versions, and requires an Apple phone or tablet to function.

The Livescribe 3, which like its predecessors digitises handwritten notes and automatically matches each pen stroke to the precise moment in an audio recording that the note was taken, has also replaced the Wi-Fi connectivity of the last version – Sky – with Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), also called Bluetooth Smart.

Bluetooth is used to wirelessly pair the Livescribe 3 with an iPhone or iPad, and the microphones on the Apple devices are used to actually record audio. While this means Livescribe users will be required to have their iPhone or iPad on hand when they record notes, users still write notes in special Livescribe “dot paper” notebooks.

The Bluetooth pairing offers benefits such as faster wireless syncing between the pen and other devices, with reduced battery drain (up to 14 hours) compared to the Wi-Fi Sky pen. Users will be able to see notes on the tablet or phone as they are being written in the notebook.

Unlike previous versions, users can also view notes on their tablet by timestamp rather than by page of the physical notebook. This helps to separate notes taken on the same page but on different days.

The removal of the LED screen makes the new Livescribe pen look somewhat more like a real pen, but the physical dimensions are not much smaller than previous versions of the cigar-sized pen.

The package also includes a capacitive stylus cap for use with the Livescribe+ app, and a black tungsten carbide medium-tip ink cartridge.

The Livescribe 3 is available today from Apple.com, select Apple stores across Australia and smartpen.com.au.

Livescribe will sell the new pen in two packages. A $199.95 package includes the pen, a 50-sheet starter notebook and micro USB charging cable. The $265 pro edition adds a leather portfolio with a 100-sheet hardbound journal and one-year subscription to Evernote Premium.

Livescribe 3 is compatible with iOS devices that are Bluetooth Smart Ready, including the iPhone 4S or later, third-generation or later iPad, iPad Mini, and the fifth-generation iPod touch or newer. The Livescribe app requires iOS 7. All older dot-paper notebooks work with Livescribe 3.

Android compatibility won’t be available at launch, but it is “on the roadmap,” according to Mark Parker, country manager for Australia and New Zealand.

Livescribe plans to continue selling the Wi-Fi and Evernote-powered Sky smartpen (read our review) and the older Echo pen, which does not have wireless connectivity.

Follow Adam Bender on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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