I have been eying something like this since the late 90s. For real. I remember walking into a Franklin Covey store and thinking that they were the coolest thing ever. I knew, though, that there was no way that the technology was there yet, especially for the price. So I waited.
These days, I have a ton of research to do. I spend most of my “downtime” reading journal articles and taking notes. Sometimes, if inspiration strikes, I will write two or three pages of my future dissertation in a notebook.
Organization was starting to get insanely out of hand. When I went to put everything in one place, I thought, “wow – wouldn’t it be nice to have all of this converted into text for me?”
So began a search for the new iteration of digital notebooks and digital pens.
Livescribe has a ton of cool features. However, the only one I cared about was the handwriting-to-text feature. I don’t need to talk to my pen.
Here’s the skinny: The OCR (optical character recognition) is great. It got almost everything right. The notebooks are of great quality and don’t cost any more than a Moleskine. The pen is light, easy to use, and feels pretty comfortable in hand. It is a little too fat, but whatever.
THE APP SUCKS SO INCREDIBLY MUCH THAT THE ENTIRE THING IS USELESS.
Okay. Here goes. This might get a little cockamamie, but that’s the app’s fault. Trust me.
So say you have a couple of pages written in a notebook, and want them transferred to a word document…
First, you need to go into the app and go to the “feed” view. You cannot change handwriting to text in the notebook view- only the feed view. So, if you have more than one notebook in the feed, good luck keeping that all organized. That was one of the deal breakers for me. Not everything needs to look like a Facebook feed, people. For real. I can just see the Livescribe guys thinking that this will make it seem “cool” –
“Hey! Let’s mix up all their notes so that they are chronological instead of in the actual notebooks they took them in to stay organized and call it a feed- like social media! Cause the kids love social media! C’mon, hepcats! We’ll be sooo groovy that way!”
So you are in the feed, you swipe to turn your handwriting to text, aaand… hm. You can create a pdf of what you wrote, but that doesn’t do anything for me if I want to add it to a paper I’m writing. I can copy/paste it into the document… but oh. my. god. the formatting is ridiculous. You will spend more time reformatting the text than you would have by just typing it yourself. So basically, you have this text and then you have nowhere to go with it.
If you want to send it to Evernote, well, you are sending a pdf attachment. Which is kind of crap, in my opinion. I’d much rather have it go in as a note without having to open a second thing to look at it. Same with OneNote, by the way- and Apple users should NOT get all excited by this new OneNote- the iOS version AND the free Mac version are incapable of opening pdfs. Which is the only format Livescribe exports. Sooo….
Oh- back to the app- so in the feed view, it cuts up what you have written into these “snips.” So if you pause to think for a sec, it creates a new snip. I’m a little slow 🙂 so I ended up with a million different snips, which was annoying. I looked around, and yes! They can be merged. Except.
Snips from one page can be merged. For some inexplicable reason, snips from more than one page cannot be merged together. I don’t know about you, but I write things down that take up more than one piece of notebook paper sometimes. So, IF I wanted to turn my notes into a pdf (stupid, but go with it), I can only get ONE page worth of writing onto a pdf EVEN THOUGH that might only be a paragraph or two of actual text. So now I have to have multiple pdf files for like five paragraphs of text. Swell.
And don’t forget- all those snips are all jumbled up in the feed. You can’t turn handwriting to text in the actual notebook- you have to go “work” with it in the feed to do that.
So, cool pen (sort of), nice notebooks, CRAP app. And the app KILLS the product. Unless you’d like to drive yourself to madness, don’t buy this. I returned mine and bought a few skinny Moleskine notebooks that I can organize. It’s working just fine. I did buy one of those Evernote Moleskines, so we will see how I like that.