TechAppleReview : Livescribe Smartpen 3

Review : Livescribe Smartpen 3


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If you have ever wanted your hand written notes to be available on your iPad then you might want to take a look at the Livescribe Smartpen 3 – and here is our review.


Livescribe is a global leader in the design and manufacturing of smartpens, enabling customers to capture, search and share handwritten notes on digital devices from desktops to smartphones. Livescribe makes the only smartpens on the market that synchronize handwritten notes with recorded audio, making the ubiquitous pen more useful in today’s world. Livescribe’s family of smartpens include the Echo smartpen, the Sky wifi smartpen and the Livescribe 3 smartpen, with complementary software for each platform.

Designed as a mobile companion, Livescribe 3 is a sleek, simplified smartpen paired with Livescribe+, a powerful iOS 7 app created to organize information and turn notes into useful actions. Set up will only take a few seconds and then you’ll be able to start syncing your notes to your iPhone or iPad, where they can be organized, tagged, searched, converted into text and shared


  • Simply write on Livescribe paper and the smartpen captures all your notes. Pair and connect your Livescribe 3 with your iPhone or iPad and your notes instantly appear in Livescribe+.
  • Convert handwritten notes into text to create tasks, reminders, calendar events, contacts or more.
  • Create audio “pencasts,” or add photos and typed memos inside Livescribe+ to add more detail and additional context to your written notes.
  • Tag your notes in Feed view to create Collections that sort all your tagged content together.
  • Livescribe 3 uses low-energy Bluetooth Smart to connect to any iPhone 4S, 3rd-gen iPad or 5th-gen iPod touch (or newer devices with iOS 7) to deliver more than 14 hours of battery life.

What’s in the Box?

The box contains everything you need to get started, including the Smartpen (with ink), a notebook, cable and a basic guide.

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A Closer Look

The Livescribe Smartpen looks and feels like a normal pen, well that’s because it is a normal pen, although it is a little chunkier than pens you might be used to writing with.

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It has an ink nib (which has a protective plastic cap on when you take it out of the box.

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When the ink runs out you can just remove it and replace it with another Livescribe ink. All this is very simple to do and doesn’t involve you having to take the pen apart, you just slide out the old ink and slide in the new one.

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Charging the Livescribe Smartpen is as easy as removing the top of the pen and connecting the USB cable.

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Using the Livescribe Smartpen

The first thing you need to do is pair your iOS device to your new smartpen – so once you have downloaded and installed the Livescribe+ app from the app store, just twist the middle ring on the pen to power it on and then the iOS device (in my case my iPad mini) will detect it automatically.


Just tap Pair and it’s as simple as that. There might be some firmware updates to do, but don’t worry, they are very quick and easy.


You can now start making notes in the notebook.


The notes are then available in the app, and you can even use handwriting recognition to turn your notes in text which you can then use in another application.

Livescribe _recognizes_text3

The notebook also has a number of images on the bottom of each page. As you can see here, there is a image for Record, Pause and Stop. These are used to create Pencasts, which are interactive documents containing audio that is syncronised to your handwritten notes. The audio is recorded using the microphone on your iOS device rather than from the smartpen.

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Here you can see an example:

ls _pencast

You can also easily tag your notes to create collections to easily find similar things.

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Final Thoughts

As someone who takes a lot of notes, I found the Livescribe Smartpen 3 to be a really useful tool that saved me a lot of time, and effort! I really liked the ability to be able to record audio as well and include that within my notes, again saving me a lot of time and effort when collating my notes.

You can use any iOS device, although I found it easier to use an iPad rather than my iPhone when going through my outputs – but it still worked great on the iPhone.

Within the box, you have a notebook and the pen already has an ink cartridge, but depending on how much you intend to use the device you will wait to order some additional books and cartridges to have ready for when you need them. You can also print your own paper for use with the smartpen too!

It took me a little while to get used to writing with the smartpen, primarily because it is a lot chunkier than any pen I have used before for writing with, although you will get used to it!

Setting up the LIvescribe+ app and pairing the smartpen was simple and only took a few moments – no mucking around in the settings, everything was done in the app for me.

I was also very happy with the battery life on the smartphone – it delivers around 14 hours per charge which should be more than enough for the average day.

There are different views in the app for your notes – Page view which shows you exactly what your wrote and how you wrote it, Feed view which sorts your notes into a timeline view, and Pencast view.

I also found the handwriting recognition, provided using a version of MyScript, to be very good and easy to use.

Sharing my notes was very easy too – I could send them as PDFs, images, or text, depending on my target audience. I could also use Online services such as Evernote and Dropbox very easily from within the app.

All in all, if you are the type of person who takes a lot of notes in meetings, at school or at university, then the Livescribe Smartpen 3 may be one of the best bits of tech you buy.

The Livescribe 3 Smartpen is available in two versions the regular at £129.99or Pro Edition, priced at £169.99 which includes a leather smartpen portfolio.


Learn more from the Livescribe website.

Andrew Edney
Andrew Edney
I am the owner and editor of this site. I have been interested in gadgets and tech since I was a little kid. I have also written a number of books on various tech subjects. I also blog for The Huffington Post and for FHM. And I am honoured to be a Microsoft MVP since January 2008 - again this year as an Xbox MVP.

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