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Catch Every Word at the Touch of a Pen
August 24, 2016
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By Gail Lorzing, STC Carolina Chapter Member

Gail Lorzing
Gail Lorzing

Being new to the technical communications profession, but not to researching and speaking with SMEs and product users, I knew there must be a device for recording other than a phone or pocket recorder. I wondered, "What are college students using?" James Bond had all the gadgets back in the 60’s so why couldn’t I?

After several internet searches I found it. The Echo Smartpen from Livescribe. User reviews were excellent with a high customer support rating and the majority of people having no pen issues. For less than $150, I purchased the Livescribe Echo Smartpen with 2GB of storage. Per the Livescribe website 2GB will give you 200 hours of recording time and over 1000 pages of notes. The Echo Smartpen's software is available for both Mac and Windows.

The Echo Smartpen is black in color, easy to handle and allows you to write, record, or write and record at the same time. The audio control can be set to low, medium or high quality, but be aware adjusting the quality can lower the recording time of the pen. Having used all volumes, the low works just fine for my needs. The sound quality is exceptional and playback allows you to replay at speeds from very slow to super fast. This comes in handy when you are unsure of a spoken word.

The Echo Smartpen comes with special notebook paper that allows you to record your written notes, two special ink cartridges, pen caps, and a USB cable to download your recordings and written notes to your laptop. This has saved me from going back over my notes and asking myself what did I mean by that comment and having to go back to the person I interviewed and asking them the same questions again. A person’s time is valuable and the least amount of time we need to take someone away from their job the better.

Registration of the pen is simple. Log on to the Livescribe website, create an account and give your new recording pen a name. The software can be downloaded across multiple devices making your job easier if you switch between laptops. Once the pen is plugged in all of your recorded and written information is automatically downloaded to your laptop.

When you want your written notes transcribed into text Livescribe has teamed with MyScript, a handwriting recognition software company that takes your scribbled notes and converts them to text. If you write or print fairly decently the conversion rate to text is close to 95%. From my experience, if you have the doctor scrawl scribble, then the conversion rate drops significantly to about 50%.

The Livescibe Echo Smartpen is a great addition to the technical writer’s arsenal. Livescribe has added additional pens with newer capabilities since I purchased my pen a year ago and runs special promotions to lower the cost of the pen.

For more information check out Livescibe and Myscript.

Gail Lorzing can be reached at mountainwombat at gmail dot com. Read more articles by Gail Lorzing. End of article.

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