The Best Digital Recorder Smartpen for Students

Echo Smartpen with Sound Stickers

The Best Digital Recorder Smartpen for Students

I have been using Digital Recorder Smartpens for years and have an eye out for new technologies in the education field. One of the technologies I follow closely and use is the digital smart pen technology. A digital recorder smart pen, is a pen that electronically captures an audio recording of a conversation, lecture or instructions with handwritten notes and drawings integrated as you write them and the audio records them.
This enables you to store the notes on the pen and upload both to your computer, where you can save them, share them, and search through them.
When I asked around, and looked at online reviews, I found the opinion divided – mainly because loyalty was divided between the two Livescribe product lines of digital voice recorder smartpens, and because the voice recorders are capable of text and audio integration. Since the award-winning Livescribe Pulse product line was introduced in 2008 many owners have insisted that the Best Digital Recorder Smartpen for Students is the Livescribe 2GB Pulse.  They swear that the Livescribe Echo smartpen introduced in 2010 is the best digital recorder pen of the two Livescribe smartpens.

I decided to find out by myself. I also decided I will not exclude any other digital pens from the assessment, and that all the major players in the digital pen market receive a shot at today’s top prize: “The Best Digital Recorder Pen for Students”.
Early on, I realized the potential of digital recorder pens in making life easier for students in general, and for academically challenged students in particular- as two of my sons are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD. Some of their friends are ESL students, some are hearing impaired, and some are dyslexic. Students facing such challenges are often home-schooled. Hence, my passion about anything that has the potential to improve the quality of their education. These students are often very intelligent and just need the right methods and tools to help them excel.

Head to Head Digital Recorder Smartpen Comparison

But which is the best digital pen? I am asked this question all the time. To answer it, I decided to compare some of the best digital pens on the market. I took into consideration, their features, their reliability, and their value for money to find The Best Digital Recorder Smartpen for Students.

The Contenders:

IrisNotes Executive 1.0 Digital Pen

  • It certainly is less bulky than most digital pens around.
  • This pen does not need special paper to work.
  • IrisNotes Executive 1.0 comes with the handwriting conversion software.
  • The overall perception of its performance is positive.
  • The pen does not offer voice recording function – for the price, (approx. $129 on Amazon) this is unforgivable. Users have reported troubles with setting the handwriting conversion software on Mac.
  • Poor customer support, in contrast to the aggressive telemarketing from IrisNotes sales team after you buy the pen, pushed this pen to the bottom of the best digital smartpens for students list.


Features X X
Reliability X
Value for the money X
Overall X

Logitech IO2 Digital Pen

  • Bluetooth connectivity is a real plus; it saves you having to connect it to the computer every time you wish to synchronize the content of the pen.
  • Logitech IO2 comes with the handwriting conversion too
  • it doesn’t offer voice recording and audio integration to its users
  • the inbuilt memory is too low, battery life is short, and the software is problematic with Windows 7 and Vista.

Falling Short in many aspects that matter to students, Logitech had to finish second to last.


Features X X X
Reliability X X
Value for the money X X
Overall X X

Dane-Elec DA-DP 1-01GC5-R Z-PEN Wireless USB

  • The closest on the list to a regular pen, Dane-Elec pen boasts a slim design and regular pen looks.
  • Its weight and ease of writing team to give the most realistic paper and pen experience.
  • Speaking of which, the pen does not require special paper.
  • Its software is compatible with PC, Mac, and Linux.
  • Its price ($40 on Amazon) would make it the digital pen of choice for many
  • Dane-Elec USB digital pen does not offer voice recording
  • The pen depends on having a clip-on receiver on the top of the paper, which gives you twice the items to carry about, not to mention twice the items to lose.
  • It also made the page turning rather cumbersome
  • The pen’s handwriting conversion is only available on PC.

On the Merit of its price, Dane-Elec digital smartpen came 3rd in the best digital pens for students list.


Features X X
Reliability X X
Value for the money X X X
Overall X X

Livescribe 2 GB Echo Digital Smartpen Starter Pack APA00009

If Livescribe 2GB Pulse Digital Smartpen draws attention, the Livescribe 2GB Echo Digital Smartpen is the one you really notice with its stunning sleek black, ergonomic design, 3.5 audio jack, and enhanced power.

The 2 GB Echo is the most advanced digital voice recorder on our list. But is it the best digital pen for students? Is it the even the best of Livescribe digital smartpens? Let’s find out.

  • The smartpen offers extra applications: a 70,000 word American Heritage English Dictionary, and an American Heritage bilingual 40,000 word full Spanish/English – English/Spanish translator are offered for nominal price. You can write a word in English and get its translation in Spanish with both text and audio provided so you get the correct pronunciation. You can translate notes on the pen or on the Desktop simply by tapping a word!
  • It offers real paper ink experience, voice recording, audio integration with paper record, 8 hours battery life, and advanced search both on the computer and on the pen.
  • You can search for a voice clip by tapping on the note you wrote at the time of recording.
  • The audio function and recorded sound are superior.
  • Superior audio controls are available-For an academically challenged student, the audio controls could be of maximum benefit. When replaying a pencast you can pause the audio, return to a prior keyword or to the beginning, and replay as often as you want. Not only can you control the volume, but also the speed of the audio, a substantial advantage for the hearing impaired and ESL students who have less familiarity with the language than native speakers, and who may have trouble interpreting the words. Other academically challenged students will also find the feature supportive.
  • The Livescribe 2GB Echo like all the Echo smartpens has a 3.5 Audio Jack; you can use your IPAD and IPOD ear buds or purchase the Livescribe Premium Binaural Stereo Ear Buds which excel in conference rooms or large meeting rooms where sounds are coming from many directions.
  • The Livescribe 2GB Echo Digital Smartpen also has a security feature, which enables you to name and lock your pen with a 4-digits pin code.
  • It also enables you to publish and share pencasts with friends and public.
  • As for customer support, Livescribe has earned a unanimous vote of trust, if online reviews are anything to go by
  • Although the 2GB Echo Digital Smartpen offers high value for money, its price is currently $96.87, (with approx. $133 for the 4GB and $178 for the 8GB version) could prove a tad too pricy for many students.
  • That is not the end of it, as the handwriting conversion software does not come bundled with the pen in the standard pack. Students will have to buy it separately.
  • Quality wise, it is difficult to fault the pen; however, many reviewers complain about the pen cap being liable to getting lost easily. The cap keeps the ink from drying out, and therefore of some importance to Echo owners.

Had this review been aimed at pens for business uses, Echo digital pens would have won hands down. Owing to the price increase of the Pulse to more than $150, rather high for a student’s budget, Livescribe Pulse digital recorder smartpen had to settle for 2nd place in the best digital pens for student list, with the Livescribe Echo 2GB first..

Features X X X X X
Reliability X X X X
Value for the money X X X X
Overall X X X X

And … for the prize of The Best Digital Recorder Smartpen, the Winner is…Livescribe 2GB Echo Digital Smartpen Livescribe 2GB Pulse has almost everything we liked about the Echo, but for a higher price (approx. $179.95 On Amazon).

  • Its memory, although much smaller than the Echo, is adequate for recording a whole semester’s worth of text and audio.
  • The Livescribe Pulse comes with a headset which is great for classrooms and small meeting rooms if you need one. The voice recorder on the pen is excellent. The audio jack is only 2.5 mm so an adapter would be needed to use your IPAD or IPOD ear buds.
  • With regular uploads to the Desktop using the cradle provided, the memory is adequate for most needs. You will find yourself naturally freeing memory space on regular basis, as you charge the battery and synchronize the content on the pen with your computer, and when you publish and archive pencasts.
  • The Livescribe Pulse digital smartpen enables you to have shared notebook for collaboration and participate in remote study groups.
  • Pencasts are combined audio and handwritten notes and drawings, synchronized
  • Pencasts are a useful feature to publish and share notes and problem solutions
  • Pulse’s software is amazingly easy to setup and use even for someone with beginning computer skills. Again, the customer support performance got nothing but praise from online reviewers. Even the best digital smartpen has its flaws.
  • Handwriting conversion is priced separately for the Pulse too: MyScribe for Livescribe costs $30
  • The Pulse smartpen is surprisingly comfortable but the Echo smartpen boasts a slight advantage in that aspect
  • The main criticism, however, is that if left unsecured in its magnetized cradle or its carry case – both come with the pen -the Pulse pen may flip to the floor! The pen’s shape and weight distribution encourages somersaults on flat surfaces. After saying that, I admit that for me I have never had that happen to me; it has quickly becomes a second nature to secure the pen in the cradle. In its intended position it is secure!

For all the above and more, The best digital pen for students is Livescribe 2GB Echo Digital Recording Smartpen Starter Pack APA00009!

For Echo 2 GB info click here:


Features X X X X
Reliability X X X X
Value for the money X X X X X
Overall X X X X

Verdict At the end of a journey in which we went through a number of the best digital smart pens, Livescribe 2GB Echo Digital Smartpen Starter Pack Model APA-00009 edged its way to the top spot to become The Best Digital Recorder Smartpen for Students. Its integrated audio and pen recording capabilities, its search capabilities, and its price makes it ideal for students, and almost a must for academically challenged students, home schooled students, and ESL and foreign students. For them, Livescribe Pulse may be the best digital pen around. If you are a student, or you are buying a gift for one, the 2GB Echo will probably be your best buy this academic year. Your purchase or your gift will transform a student’s learning experiences. For the student the ultimate benefit to owning a Livescribe 2GB Pulse Digital Smartpen is that the student will have a study tool to get the grades the student deserves and get into a college of the student’s choice.

Visit here: Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen Starter Pack (APA-00009) for details on this marvelous smartpen!

Consumer Notice: My blogs may contain one or more affiliate links. That means if you buy something from one of them I may get paid an affiliate commission

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4 Responses to The Best Digital Recorder Smartpen for Students

  1. Mao Eriks says:

    You made some nice points there. I did a search on the matter and found mainly folks will have the same opinion with your blog.

  2. smartpens says:

    You are ahead of me in the news about the IPAD. I may have to buy an IPAD!
    Susan Coursey

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