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Customer Review

708 of 762 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Works Well on Windows; Mac Software Sluggish & Handwriting Recognition Add On MyScript Does Not Work Well, August 25, 2010
This review is from: Livescribe 4 GB Echo Smartpen (Personal Computers)
Amazing! is the first reaction to this device. Here are the things it can do, and generally well.

1. Write like a regular pen.
2. Record voice or sound like any digital recorder.
3. Link the written notes to the recorded sound. So if tap on a written word it will play the sound recorded at the time that word was written.
4. Upload handwritten notes and voice to computer.
5. Share your written notes and audio (Pencasts).

The sound quality is fairly good. There are lot of add on apps available like games, language translation, piano etc. which I have not used so far except MyScript, which does not work very well. It comes with two fine black ink cartridges, no medium, and I wish there was one included. The writing was faint with fine tip and it was scratchy to write. So I had to order an extra pack of five Livescribe ARA-000007 4 Medium Blue and 1 Fine Red Ink Cartridge cartridges. Sometimes the writing is faint on the computer even with medium tipped blue cartridges.


1. BUGGY MAC LIVESCRIBE DESKTOP SOFTWARE: Echo pen does not come with any software, you have to download that from the web site. LiveScribe Desktop for Mac software is very sluggish and glitchy. You will be watching the spinning wheel for a while (3:48 minutes) when it starts, it will keep on asking you for email address and password and not let you use the program until you do. And if you are not connected to the Internet, the LiveScribe won't stop spinning until you connect the Echo pen. Windows software is actually better, faster and does not hang up like that. After you connect the pen, it takes a while for the notes to show up. Although you can archive the notes from one pen to one computer, there is no way to transfer notes to multiple computers because archiving the notes removes them from the pen. The first time I connected the pen, it updated the firmware automatically.

2. DIFFICULT TO PRINT CUSTOM PAPER: Another problem is that you have to buy notebooks and paper from LiveScribe. As far as I can make out, they do not sell A4 size paper. You can print the paper on some Postscript color laser printers. I could not print the paper on Dell 5100cn color laser printer, either with Dell Postscript driver or with Adobe generic Postscript driver but I was successful in printing the paper on Brother MFC-9840CDW Color Laser Multifunction Center with Wireless Interface and Duplex - but only from the Mac LiveScribe. It took a long time - 2 hours - to print 25 pages! Interestingly, the custom notebooks could be printed only in Mac Livescribe, not from the Windows version. The file was 200MB. You have to print one full notebook of 25 pages at time and you cannot print partial notebooks, say pages 1-10. And you can only print total 100 pages (4 Notebooks with 25 pages each). So if you want to use more than hundred pages, you have to archive a notebook before you can do that. That limits active pages to 100 at a time! This is the biggest drawback I found for my purpose because I need to have hundreds of active records at a time where I can write information on multiple days. The same limitation also applies to their notebooks. Despite using 1200 dpi resolution for printing, the quality of writing was still poor when it showed up on the computer. So I ended up using Livescribe Single Subject Spiral Notebook ANA-00017, 4-Pack, Nos. 1-4 which have A4 size paper, but punched.

3. NO EASY WAY TO BACKUP: The data transferred to the computer is saved in one of those obscure and hidden Windows & Mac folders that are hard to find for non techies and will not back up unless you do global backup like Windows Backup or Mac Time Machine. You cannot save your data in custom folders. Even though, I had everything backed up, I could not restore the the data when my hard drive died and lost all archived notes. Three technical support reps from LiveScribe could not restore it. First two said they will call back and let me know but never did. The last technical support rep did get back to me in Email and said they could not restore my backed up data. After losing lot of data (300 A4 pages), I now save all notes as PDF files in my custom data folders and also upload to Evernote. I do not record lot of audio and so far the free Evernote account has been sufficient. Integration of Windows LiveScribe with Evernote works well.

4. POOR HANDWRITING RECOGNITION ADD ON MyScript: My main purpose in buying this pen was to convert handwritten notes to computer text. For that I had to buy a thirty buck add on called MyScript for LiveScribe which does not work so well. Even with clear cursive writing it does not recognize many words and has particular difficulty with technical words, so you have to add each word one by one into the dictionary, and cannot import your Microsoft Word or Pages dictionary. Very tedious process. But it has Auto Replacement, which works like Microsoft Word Autocorrect, e.g. if you write 3m, you can program it to expand to 3 months. That is the work around to poor handwriting recognition.

5. ANNOYING UNTETHERED CAP: Like every one else, I found the loose cap very irritating, it can be easily lost. Are you supposed to keep putting and removing the cap all day long? It is not clear to me why they couldn't make a retractable pen or why the cap cannot be held in place on the back of the pen or tethered with a small cord. There is no clip on the pen to clip it to your pocket either. You will find this very annoying.

6. NO AUTO ON & OFF: If you forget to turn the pen on by pressing the on/off button, the pen will not record anything. I cannot understand why the pen does not have auto on, it should turn on as soon as you start writing on the paper. The on off button should be behind the ink cartridge, so it turns on just by the process of starting to write. Or may be they can fix this with a firmware upgrade.

Overall, it is great for students to record lectures, attorneys, journalists, conference attendees making notes etc. and you can later on refer to the written notes and /or speech. You can write or record speech or do both and link the two. Those who are going to record a lot of audio should go for 8 Gb; for most users 4 Gb should suffice. If you use LiveScribe notebooks and Windows software it works fairly well. But if you have a Mac, need to print your own custom A4 paper, or need handwriting recognition, then it is a work in progress and needs lot of bugs ironed out before it can become a mainstream product. May be they can have a wi-fi card like Eye-Fi so that notes are automatically transferred to your computer. It sure has the potentiel.

ADDENDUM (8/4/2013): This review was written for ECHO pen and not SKY Wi-Fi pen, Amazon has transferred the review from Echo Livescribe to Sky Wi-Fi pen. I have never used the Sky pen and this review only applies to the Echo pen, NOT Sky Wi-Fi pen.
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Tracked by 8 customers

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Showing 1-10 of 33 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Aug 26, 2010 11:02:47 AM PDT
Brian says:
Hi SanjeevP "Bottom Line",

You don't need to archive notebooks after docking the smartpen and transferring your data. Everything remains on your smartpen until you decide to remove that data (archive is one option to remove data). If you want to transfer your notes to several computers then we recommend not archiving your notebook(s).

You mentioned it takes 3 minutes 48 seconds to transfer on your first dock. This is not normal. On first dock, and subsequent docks, it should take only a few moments to start and complete a transfer of your notes. Even with several recorded audio sessions that are hours long it should not take more than a minute to transfer everything from your smartpen if you dock it consistently. Try a complete un-install and reinstall of the software by referencing this article - If you still have a delay it may be related to a resource issue on your Mac.

Amazon U.S. doesn't sell A4 paper at this time, but Amazon U.K. does -

Transcribing with MyScript works best when you are writing in block print, but cursive should work too. If you continue to have issues please let Vision Objects know by accessing their support group at . Providing a screen shot when you create a case with them might be helpful.

Thank you for your review Sanjeev. We will continue to monitor customer comments like yours in order to improve the Livescribe smartpen experience.

Livescribe Customer Support

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 20, 2010 8:16:36 AM PDT
BetsyR says:
Brian, As a potential purchaser, as I noted in an immediately prior comment, I would like to know which ink jet printers and laser printers will work to print the paper? Do you have a list available? The pen sounds wonderful, but the paper costs may be a killer.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 20, 2010 5:37:25 PM PDT
Brian says:
Hi BetsyR,

Only color LaserJet printers can print dot-map paper. Inkjet printers cannot. We do not maintain a list, but both of these articles provide information on how you can verify which color LaserJet printers will be able to print dot-map paper based on their manufacturer specifications:


Thank you.

Livescribe Customer Support

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2010 9:02:51 AM PDT
BetsyR says:
Many thanks! I don't have a color laser but, cost-wise, it probably would make more sense to buy notebooks. :) I am definitely going to get a pen here, dithering now only over the 4GB or the 8GB Echo. Are there substantive differences between the 4 and 8 besides the larger capacity? (I have a Mac OS 10.6.4) From one of the comments on the 8, it sounds as though there are.

In reply to an earlier post on Sep 21, 2010 9:37:33 AM PDT
Brian says:
Hi BetsyR,

File storage is the only difference, primarily audio storage as ink strokes take very little memory. If you download and install applications from our online Store those will be a factor too of course. This article should give you a good idea of the difference between 4GB and 8GB smartpens relating to audio storage:

I hope this helps!

Livescribe Customer Support

Posted on Sep 30, 2010 11:59:16 AM PDT
Zach says:
I saw a you tube of livescribe smart pen and heard in the reproduction the scratching sound of the pen on paper along with the voice being recorded
does this usually happen?

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 19, 2011 7:56:12 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 19, 2011 7:56:56 AM PST
Hello Brian

I tried to order the A4 Notebooks from Amazon UK, but they are not permitted to ship to Japan. :(

Is there any way I can get the A4 Notebooks? As you probably know, the common paper size in Japan is A4, not the US Letter or A5.

Looking forward to your guidance.

Cheers! :)


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 24, 2011 6:19:22 AM PST
(First, sorry to Sanjeev for continuing to take over the thread following his excellent review.)


Sanjeev's comments regarding the printing of your own paper intrigued me. I do professional page layout, and my goal would be to use the LiveScribe pen with custom-designed notebooks of various sizes. Based upon Sanjeev's comments, and my additional research, I have a couple of questions that I hope you can help me with:

1) Is it correct that you can only print the LiveScribe paper from the LiveScribe desktop application?
2) Is Sanjeev's assessment of the time it takes to print roughly consistent with expectations? (2 hours to print 25 pages. I understand that other factors like the amount of memory in your printer will have an impact on this, but am looking for a rough baseline.)
3) I want to design a custom notebook that is (for instance) a daily planner, using 8 double-sided pages per week, coming out to roughly 64 imprints per month (8 pages per week * 2 sides per page * 4 weeks per month). A) Is it possible to actually create a single document / notebook / (insert correct terminology here) that is 64 pages long in LiveScribe? B) Am I able to have multiple such documents open and available at once?
4) To achieve the goals described above, I assume that I would first have to print the dot pattern onto my own paper, and then print my notebook layout on top of the pre-printed paper. Is this accurate? Is this supported? Is printing your own paper double-sided supported? (Or worse, prohibited?)

Thanks very much for your time. I'm eager to make this purchase quickly, and look forward to your responses before I place my order.


In reply to an earlier post on Jan 25, 2011 4:33:42 PM PST
Brian says:
Hi Mary,

In response to your questions:

1. Livescribe Desktop allows you to print 8.5" x 11" single-sided 25 page notepads as long as the printer is a color LaserJet 600dpi (or greater) Adobe PostScript compatible printer. As a registered Developer you can install the Livescribe Platform SDK which includes a Paper Designer for Eclipse that allows you to create paper applications of different sizes. For licensing and other Developer related questions please go to
2. Due to the complexity of the dot pattern, printing dot-map notepads can take some time. Depending on the printer, a single page could take around 2 minutes to print or, apparently in Sanjeev's case, as much as 5 minutes.
3. Creating custom notebooks would require the Livescribe Platform SDK and requires a good deal of computer memory, but if your machine can handle it then it is possible to create/open multiple custom notebooks at the same time.
4. Copying the template over the dot-map paper will work, but keep in mind that the copied image won't show up in Livescribe Desktop, just the ink strokes will appear (and audio will transfer as well if any recordings were made). Using the Livescribe Platform SDK you can print dot-maps on both sides of a sheet of paper as well as create the image you want on the paper, but we don't currently have the option to make that image appear in Livescribe Desktop.

We hope this information helps!

Livescribe Customer Support

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 31, 2011 5:09:11 PM PST
J. Lustig says:
Is it possible to print LiveScribe paper using a black-and-white printer, or do you need to use a color printer?
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