As much as I like apps like Evernote, I still take a lot of hand-written notes, which is why I was interested in the new interactive “pencasts” available for the Livescribe Echo Smartpen, a digital pen that can record notes written on paper and audio.
With the rollout of Livescribe Connect, the company has now added sharing features to the gadget that should be useful for collaboration. The system can turn the notes recorded by the pen into interactive “pencasts” that can be shared with anyone who has Adobe Reader. Files containing both handwritten notes and recorded audio can be sent to a number of applications and online services, including email, Google Docs, Facebook, Evernote, and the MyLivescribe service that offers 500MB of cloud storage to any Livescribe owner. Pencast files can also be sent to mobile devices, including the iPad and iPhone.
You can download a demo pencast from the Livescribe site. The files are modified PDFs with embedded Flash elements to provide the interactivity. Thus, you’ll need Adobe Reader 10 or higher to play back and interact with a pencast. Other PDF readers, such as Preview on the Mac, can only view the first page of the document.
The Echo Smartpen, accessories and apps are available from the Livescribe store and various retailers. The base pen includes 4GB of storage, and costs $149.95. Pens with more storage and features are also available.