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Three Digital Pens Duke It Out (and the Nokia loses)

June 5, 2008

What happens when you throw three of the (only) digital pens on the market into one arena for a battle royale? Well, if you’re Nokia or IOGear, you lose. But if you’re LiveScribe, you’ve got a handy tool with a little embedded voice recorder on top and a camera on the bottom.

The LiveScribe Pulse

LiveScribe Pulse

LiveScribe Pulse

Peter Svensson of the Associated Press recently reviewed a couple of New Age digital pens. Below, a summary:

LiveScribe’s Pulse is a new breed of digital pen, armed with a voice recorder that records audio while you’re writing. What’s cool about this feature, however, is the ability to “tap” your notes to play the audio that you previously recorded at that point. To accomplish this, the Pulse also contains a mini-camera that picks up special dot patterns that tell it what you wrote, where you wrote it, and what was being said.

While it does require special paper containing the dots, you may be able to print out pieces of dotted-paper in the future. Or, you can shell out the $20 bucks for 4 100-sheet notebooks.

The LiveScribe Pulse costs $149 for a 1 gigabyte version, or $199 for the 2 gigabyte device.

Next up is Nokia’s older-school SU-27W, a digital pen that alows you to send your notes and drawings to a compatible phone over Bluetooth. It didn’t fare so well in the AP shootout, mainly due to the handwriting recognition software and price tag: the SU-27W retails for $299.99. Of course, the comparison between the SU-27W and the Pulse is slightly skewed because the SU-27W is a heck of a lot older.

Nokia was supposed to be working on the next generation of the digital pen that also uses a small camera, but unfortunately it looks like that pen has gone the way of the N92. (in other words, nowhere)

Finally, the Digital Light Scribe combines a USB device with a normal-sized pen to record your writings. The good news is that since it uses infrared sensors and whatnot, it’s usable on any notepad and does not require special paper. The bad news is it tends to miss parts of letters and it looks like the software that comes with the pen ain’t exactly the greatest.

At $129.99, it’s the cheapest of the bunch, and it also includes a feature that lets you use your pen as a mouse cursor – basically letting you emulate a digital tablet or tablet pc.

Review: Finally a useful digital pen – AP

Nokia SU-27W and Digital Scribe

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