What is a Smartpen?

A Livescribe smartpen is a clever tool that will help any professional, student, educator or note-taker in innumerable ways. Like any regular pen, a smartpen uses ink and paper. You take notes just as you always have, with or without doodles and diagrams. When it is turned on, a Livescribe smartpen will remember every pen stroke you make on any page in any one of your Livescribe notebooks. What is more, you may optionally activate a microphone to automatically synchronize what you hear to what you’re writing. As you will read below, that microphone is physically inside the Echo smartpen. The microphone associated to a Livescribe 3 smartpen is the microphone in your mobile device (iPhone, iPad, Android).


Which Smartpen is right for me?

The two types of smartpen can be distinguished by answering the following two questions:

  1. Where is the data stored?
  2. How is it transmitted?

– The Echo smartpen transmits data via an included USB cable to a free application which you download to your computer. The data you create is stored on the hard disk of your computer (Windows or Mac, English or French). The application is called “Echo Desktop” and may be obtained at any time from the manufacturer’s website. Your handwritten notes and audio can then be viewed, organized, searched and shared in a number of ways, including Evernote, Facebook, GoogleDocs, PDF and more! For an Echo smartpen, you need not have direct access to the internet, but you do need a computer to run Echo Desktop. That computer can be Windows or Mac (English or French). Where: on your computer hard disk. How: via USB cable. There are two versions of the Echo smartpen. The 2gb Echo can store up to 170 hours of audio, whereas the 8gb Echo can store up to 760 hours of audio. If you prefer to keep many hours of audio on your smartpen without archiving older notebooks, the 8gb version may be the better choice.

– The somewhat newer Livescribe 3 Black Edition (LS3) is a phenomenally useful accessory for your mobile device (such as an iPad, iPhone or Android), but it requires such a companion device to function fully. Unlike the Echo smartpens, the Livescribe 3 smartpen does NOT have a microphone or a speaker. The LS3 captures handwriting and stores it in its own memory however audio is captured using the microphone and speaker of its companion device. Handwriting data is transmitted from the LS3 via Bluetooth Smart (also known as Bluetooth 4.0) and it is viewable in real-time on the device (very cool!). Apple devices must have iOS8 (see prerequisites/requirements). Android devices must be at version 4.4.2 or higher with support for Bluetooth LowEnergy/Smart/4.0 (incomplete list of compatible Android devices). Handwriting from the LS3 can be synchronized to up to five mobile devices but audio is kept only in the one device which recorded it. Where: in your iOS device (recent models of iPad, iPhone, iPod, Android devices). How: via Bluetooth 4.0.

How to choose between Echo (2gb / 8gb) and the Livescrive 3 Black Edition

1) It is mostly a question of personal preference. Both models work great!
2) We often recommend that you ask yourself the following question: where do I do most of my real work?
3) If you do your "real work" on a PC, you are likely to prefer using the Echo 2gb or the Echo 8gb
4) If you do your "real work" on a mobile device (iPhone, iPad or Android), then the Livescribe 3 is likely to be the better choice.
5) Remember: the microphone for the Echo models is physically in the smartpen. You do not need another device to record audio. The Livescribe 3 Black Edition leverages the (higher-quality?) microphone in your mobile device, but it also means that your mobile device must be present/available, charged, have the Livescribe+ app installed and running in the foreground.

Show me a comparison table



Livescribe 3 Smartpen

Echo Smartpen


What else should I know?


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What are the differences between the Livescribe 3 "Black Edition", the "Professional Edition" and the "Moleskin Edition"?
Only the Black Edition is currently available. The three LS3 smartpens function identically. The important differences were merely the items that are also included in the box with the Professional and Moleskin versions.

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What are the differences between the 2gb Echo and the 8gb Echo?
The two smartpens function identically; the 8gb does obviously have four times more memory than the 2gb. The Echo 2gb is adequate for most circumstances. The 8gb model is recommended if you need more storage, and will appreciate the convenience of not having to archive older notebooks nearly as frequently. The 2gb model can typically store 170 hours of audio before archiving becomes necessary, whereas the 8gb model can store up to 760 hours of audio.

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What happened to the SKY smartpen?
The Sky smartpen was discontinued by Livescribe in 2014 and is now no longer available. The following information is provided for reference only.
The Sky smartpen is configured to transmit data over WiFi directly to your free Evernote.com account on the internet. No computer is required and notes can be taken anywhere (with or without an internet connection). Notes can however be uploaded to Evernote only when you are at a hotspot. For a Sky smartpen, you do not need a dedicated computer but you do need occasional access to WiFi and to your online Evernote account. Where: in your online Evernote account . How: via WiFi to the internet.

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What is Evernote?

Evernote.com is a cloud-based (internet-based) repository for all sorts of files (not just Livescribe content). Your handwritten notes and audio can then be viewed, organized, searched and shared in a number of ways! For a Sky smartpen, you need direct access to WiFi to upload data, but no computer is required! All three Livescribe smartpens (Echo, Sky and LS3) can push data to Evernote (but is -required- only for the Sky smartpen, and the Sky is NO LONGER available for purchase). Once uploaded you may access your Evernote account from almost any internet-connected device including iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows and of course any connected computer (PC, Mac, Linux or other).

What is OneNote?

OneNote.com is a Microsoft product, similar to Evernote. It is a cloud-based (internet-based) repository for all sorts of files (not just Livescribe content). Your handwritten notes and audio can then be viewed, organized, searched and shared in a number of ways! Software exists to allow pages from a Livescribe 3 smartpen to be synchronized automatically from your mobile device to OneNote. Once uploaded you may access your OneNote account from almost any internet-connected device including iPad, iPhone, Android, Windows and of course any connected computer (PC, Mac, Linux or other).


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Still have questions?
Please see the FAQ pages for other information!