Apple has pretty much sucked the air out of the room when it comes to anything "tablet" related. However, until the iPad actually ships, all the buzz is good for is generating comments and opinions on blogs. Fortunately, there are many companies out there besides Apple making all kinds of cool digital gear worthy of mention.
One of our favorite is Livescribe, makers of the Pulse SmartPen.
We mentioned the Pulse a few times last year (Intro, FirstLook, FirstUse, journal, Online, SDK)
because we felt it was an extraordinary piece of tech. Of course, there were additional features we hoped we would soon see in the product. It has been a year, so we thought it was time for us to check and see what's new with the Pulse. The short version is: more memory, new charging cradle.
There is now a larger 4GB version of the pen, which is great news as we hated deleting anything off our Pulse pen (more on why later). The other items in the package were the same except it now contains a journal instead of a full-size notebook. We prefer the smaller journal over the larger notebook, so we were happy with the change.
Some of us just use the Pulse SmartPen as a note taker/recorder. We don't need to upload the audio data to a computer at all. However, in order to recharge the pen, we had to hook the pen/charging base combo to a computer. Livescribe now offers a charging cradle which is powered by an AC outlet. This cradle is shaped to stand the pen upright and weighed so it cannot be easily tipped over.
There is still an USB port in the back for downloading data to the computer, but the Pulse may now be untethered from the laptop if only a recharge is needed.
Livescribe discoverd that some would prefer a more upscale look and are now offering a leather-bound version of their journals. These journals are the same size as the previous ones, but now have a richer more "executive" look to them. We liked the previous ones, but did covered them up with an embossed cover, mostly because we wanted a way to secure the pen with the notebook. We would have liked an elastic loop or some way to attach the pen to the journal.
The biggest weakness with the Livescribe Pulse for us at present is the inability to "reload" the data back onto the pen. The current Livescribe software does allow the user to "archive" the data for review on the computer, but that action is unidirectional. The inability to reload the archived data meant we have lost the ability to click on the notes in our notebooks
and hear the audio once we have archived it. The only way to access the archived audio is via the Livescribe Desktop software. For some users, this will not be an issue, but it is a big problem for us. We have non-Livescribe notebooks that are 20 years old which contain notes that we still reference. We would love to have a removable micro-flash chip which can be taken out of the Pulse and paired with the notebook so we can swap memory chips when we swap notebooks. The perfect analogy is that of a digital camera. How much more limiting would a digital camera be if they had no removable flash memory? We love how the Pulse pen can capture both audio and written data, but we look forward to the day when the data is no longer held captive by the pen. [Permalink] -Livescribe Pulse 4GB