Livescribe Sky Wi-Fi Smart Pen Review: Old Dog, New Tricks


The pen may be mightier than the sword, but the tablet is killing the pen, and it's a death that is happening slowly and painfully before our eyes. Just as email is killing printing, the pen is going the way of the dinosaur. What happens then, when someone comes in to teach this old dog some new tricks? Meet the Livescribe Sky Wi-Fi Smart Pen: the future of writing on tablets.

What Is It?

The Sky Wi-Fi Smart Pen is the same Livescribe pen you're used to, with the added twist of Wi-Fi syncing. It's still the same smart pen that records and synchronises audio with your paper notes, but it adds the ability to synchronise your data to Evernote, Dropbox and Google Drive.

It comes in 2GB, 4GB and 8GB models, and the highest storage variant includes a one year Evernote Premium subscription, who Livescribe now have a partnership with.

That partnership brings deep integration to Evernote, meaning that when you take a note, that handwritten information is uploaded immediately to the Evernote cloud, along with the audio that goes along with it.

What's Good?

The Sky Wi-Fi comes with all the great features of the original Livescribe Echo series, with the added benefit of syncing to the cloud.

Synchronising notes its super-simple and relatively straight forward. The only thing that is going to suffer is your battery if you keep Wi-Fi on all the time. The only time you'll need Wi-Fi is when you want your notes to live update. Otherwise, just leave it off until you need to sync at the end of the day.

You synchronise your notes to Evernote, with whom Livescribe now has a partnership. That partnership scores you a free year of Evernote Premium — provided you get the 8GB premium Sky pen. You'll nab 500MB worth of storage every month, which is normally around $US75 a year. That adds a lot of value on top of the freemium Evernote tier, especially if you insist on sending your audio to the cloud along with your notes.

The notebooks leave a bit to be desired in terms of style, but Livescribe have indicated to us that they're working with Moleskine to bring a sexy notebook to market in the near future.

Livescribe has also thought ahead cleverly and given you two additional pen heads so you don't run out of ink.

What's Bad?

The price. No matter how wonderful it is to get your notes back into your digital life, the cost is a huge issue. $229 for a 2GB tablet accessory is a bit excessive, but $345 is far too much. Only someone who is hardcore about syncing every word they write and every sketch they make.

This Is Weird...

The 50-page starter notebook's cover is insanely prone to scuffs and scratches. If you keep the Livescribe in your bag without any protection, it's going to make your notebooks look rubbish.

Should You Buy It?

If you can afford it, absolutely. This will revolutionise the way you draw, sketch, take notes and interview. As a journalist, I don't know how I have gone this long without it. For the price you're paying, though, you'd want to use it every day.

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