Livescribe Sky Wi-Fi Smartpen (Part 2)

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Just imagine this: you are attending a meeting or a lecture, and it is just actually interesting this time. You do not want to spend all of your time taking notes because it may restraint you from paying attention. Therefore you switch on the Sky pen, press “record” on one page and sometimes write some key words. When the meeting is over, you connect the pen with the phone’s internet connection and press Synch. Then you forget everything which has just happened.

Six months later, while you are sitting at the American Samoa beach, you suddenly remember that there is something extremely important mentioned in that meeting – what was it? – Something about the pomegranates. Your notepad and pen is in your office which is miles away, but it is not really a problem. You go back to the hotel, connect your phone or tablet with the Wi-Fi in the waiting room and search for Evernote applications to find “pomegranates and, boom, there it is. You type the note and replay what the fruit expert said. The problem has been solved.

This smartpen can save your career

This smartpen can save your career

Well, almost. In fact, there are many related steps that make this happen, and they might not follow your preference. First of all, that is the pen’s interface itself, which takes time to get familiar with. From the outside, it is fast and strong – you can quickly check the storage status, changing some setting about the audio quality if you need to save the capacity and create a postpone in time linking if you often start to write few seconds after the communication turns into another topic. But just like what you see from our video evaluation above, the Synching is its weakness because the pen usually cannot present the information properly.

Especially, the Sky pen sometimes cannot inform you with the connection problems. People who are on their way usually face the problem of low connection with public hotspots or tethering, but the pen just pretends that everything is fine when the fact is reversed – it always says “synching” but there is no sign of progress. Sometimes it wrongly says that it is connected to a network, with a big “tick” next to SSID, and then a question mark takes its place when you try to synch.

When your notes are in the cloud eventually, you will also have to deal with the player Evernote and Livescribe. First of all OCR of Evernote is quite bad, even when applied for good handwriting. Finally, OCR is just able to work reliably with words which are in block caps. If Evernote offers some suggestions, the problem would be solved. (for instance, “could this be the word you are looking for?)

Moreover, the handwriting and audio are separated when filed into different notebook in Evernote and are only recombined when you click on a particular note. It starts a new tabor browser window displaying the particular Livescribe could player, which performs its task fine– you can click on individual word to listen to involved audio segments – but it is basic and kind of ugly, especially when displaying on smartphones. The fact that Livescribe and Evernote are partners and Evernote’s logo are presented on the Sky smartpen’s package brings us the feeling like the software could have been integrated better.

Finally, your notes will appear in Evernote

Finally, your notes will appear in Evernote

However, none of these problems are big minuses, because the pen always fulfills its mission at last – finally your notes will appear in Evernote, and you will be able to identify them anyways. Perhaps firmware updates in the future will much improve the problems – in reality, your first received access eliminated some glitches that we had seen before that. However, there are many other consistent ways to reach the similar final purpose.

What are the options? Well, you have Echo Smartpen, which requires docking but at least always operates in the same reliable ways. And it should be reminded that you can get rid of pen and paper, you will be able to do all of those things with much lower cost. In fact, if you accidently own a HTC One Series smartphone, you will have it free because the exceptional built-in Notes applications can link the handwriting and audio the same way, and automatically synch the data with Evernote. Finally, you can bring your large-size laptop or tablet to a meeting and put words and sounds directly into the note-taking application you choose – although this is not necessary to provide you any time link between to media types.


Despite the fact that our complaints about the Sky’s price or imperfect UI make no difference, it is a useful product indeed. For those who like to write with ink and paper, but wish to preserve and organize the notes in cloud, there is no product can be compared with it in providing a simplified workflow. The most formidable competitor actually comes from another model of Livescribe, Echo. If you are a well-organized person and do not mind few additional steps, and if you are confident not to forget your pen anywhere, make it quick: purchase for the $120 Echo before it is too late. If you have already had the older Echo or Pulse pen, take a serious consideration before upgrading to the Sky, because you would be missing the safety characteristic of the old docking routine, although they are sometimes inconvenient. The wireless synching of Sky is a nice feature, but it is not what changes the game.

The Livescribe Sky smartpen

The Livescribe Sky smartpen

If you are not an organized person, but you still believe that the Sky smartpen is suitable for the way you work daily, you should not be afraid of making the $170 jump. You might have to deal with some synching problems, but it is better than taking the USB cable and laptop along everywhere or remembering to connect the pen with your PC. Interestingly, when writing this review, we lost our notepad – maybe it has been forgotten at the Nikon introduction event recently – but all data are saved by the smartpen, which has uploaded the notes about the brand new Nikon to Evernote’s servers. It is so hard to price such thing.


·         Price: $170 for 2GB


·         Do what other device don’t

·         Save your life (or at least your career)


·         Expensive unless you depend on it

·         The synching is usually not smooth or ensured

·         OCR of Evernote should have been better

·         The cheaper Echo smartpen is still a good selection


·         For a small group of people insist on writing with pen and ink, and may forget their smartpen’s docks, the benefit brought by the Sky can sometime exceed its high price and problems.


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