Seldom do inventions appear that can compensate for long and drawn-out video reviews, but the Echo smartpen from Livescribe definitely qualifies in our opinion. And here is why.
If not for its very thin tip, the Echo smartpen would look precisely like a marker, due to how thick it is, almost like a microphone.
As it happens, it does have a microphone built into its side, plus a headphone jack at the top, that supports both playback and recording.
As if those weren't enough, the Echo smartpen also has a microUSB port at the top, plus an OLED display on the upper half of the shaft.
Really, the replaceable ink tip is the only thing that makes this item still qualify as a pen.
Not only that, but there are either 4 GB or 8 GB of integrated storage space inside the pen, capable of recording up to 400 / 800 hours of audio, either through the microphone or special earbuds with integrated microphones.
“Anything you write, hear, or speak, the pen will capture and make it accessible to you forever, and let you search it and share it,” says Jim Marggraff, CEO of Livescribe.
And now we have arrived at the part where the really weird things get listed, such as the pre-loaded apps that the Echo comes with.
And how are those apps used, you might ask? One only needs to draw the UI on paper (a simple plus sign is enough) and then tap the directional “arrows” to select the one needed (the speaker will say the name aloud).
By default, a piano app (just draw the piano) and a Spanish / Mandarin / Arabic translator (translates words you just wrote in English) are included, but Livescribe's website has more.
Not only that, but Echo can create “pencasts”, whereby the movements of the pen are recreated, alongside the accompanying audio. That way, both the notes and, say, a teacher's words, are preserved for future reference. See the video below for a complete walkthrough.