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Echo Smartpen Review

  • Price
  • Build Quality
  • Design & Ergonomics
  • Features
  • Performance

Livescribe 4GB Echo Smartpen Pros


The Livescribe Desktop software has to be downloaded. Setting up the software is reasonably straightforward and the Echo Smartpen links to the laptop’s spare USB port using the provided Micro USB cable. We understand that the latest drivers for the Mac OS have greatly improved the bug associated with the response rate noted in versions prior to 2.2.1


The slimmer, sleek ergonomic design means the Echo Smartpen is more aesthetic and attractive compared to earlier incarnations of the Livescribe and appears to turn-on faster than the previous Pulse version. The improved design comes with a soft textured rubberized grip and anti-roll body. The Echo Smartpen did not feel very heavy and the 96 x 18 OLED display screen is easy bright and easy to read.


There are many different apps available e.g. language translation, games. The range of apps increase functionality, for example, by allowing the Smartpen to even serve as a MP3 player using the ‘Music Player’ app.


Livescribe 4GB Echo Smartpen Review | Software

Livescribe 4GB Echo Smartpen Review | Software

Ease of Use

The learning curve for using the basic note-taking could be classed as minimal.  Leaning the more advanced features will take longer but if you make sure to have the latest firmware, watch the practice videos and take the time to learn the app functions, they can be mastered in a few days.

A nice touch is if you owned a previous Livescribe Smartpen and use the same email account to register it, you can see notes from all your pens side by side.

What’s great is that you can write on half a page (sync with your computer to show half a page of digital text) then go back to the notebook at another time to write additional notes on the empty half of the page, and the computer will show the new text in the appropriate place when re-synched at anytime in the future. You can write on any page in any order and the Livescribe software will know exactly where you are when you re-synch.

The ability to add command symbols to the notes, tap that part of the notebook sometime later and immediately auto synch to retrieve and play the associated audio is an immense time saver for many professions. Add to this the search/skip function and this makes the Echo Smartpen an indispensable tool for many users e.g. journalists, writers, students.  Alternatively, you can add notes after recording a meeting and whilst listening to the playback. Then by touching the pen to the notes, the playback will jump to the point in the meeting where the notes were added.


Writing with the Smartpen is natural and straightforward and the ink dries almost instantly. It is very easy to change the cartridges, especially compared to earlier Livescribe Smartpens, and these are available in fine and medium points and red, blue and black colors.

Livescribe produce a variety of pad and paper sizes to cater for all tastes. e.g. A5-sized Notebooks, Lined Journals, Sticky Notes. Although it is recommended to use the proprietary Livescribe dot paper for optimal results, it is possible to print out your own using an Adobe PostScript compatible, 600dpi color laser printer. Some people have reported  having success even using a good quality inkjet printer. The paper in the notebooks is of very good quality, thick and durable. In addition, once you have downloaded your notes the micro tearing allows you to rip out the page and file the notes.

Livescribe 4GB Echo Smartpen Review | Writing

Livescribe 4GB Echo Smartpen Review | Writing


Audio sound quality is generally quite good but remember that recording times vary depending on the audio quality setting.  Settings can be adjusted taking into account different audio environments and although some background noise will be present in the recording, in general, it does not unduly affect the listening experience. Using the 3-D Premium Recording Headset makes a significant difference to audio quality.


The ability to encrypt and password protect files is vital for those that use the pen in a professional capacity where confidentiality and privacy is essential.

Finally, the Livescribe 4GB Echo Smartpen may be a useful learning tool, for example, with someone who has learning or attention issues or even for those who write slowly.

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