Thursday, 7 January 2010

A Handwriter's Dream Christmas Present

I love writing, but I'm not as enthusiastic about typing. So, my husband bought me what must be the best Christmas present for someone in my position: A Pulse Smartpen, using Livescribe software. (There may be other similar pens on the market that I've not heard about, in which case I'm not pushing this one in particular, but this is the one I received and the one I know something about.)

The pen has a camera near the tip that records your pen strokes, so that it can later upload your handwritten notes to a computer. It does require you to use special dot paper. As their website states: "Microdots printed on Livescribe dot paper enable the infrared camera at the tip of the Pulse smartpen to track everything you write down." This raises the cost of the pen, though the pen can save up to 8 different notebooks at one time (then you have to archive them to use the same numbered notebook again) and you have the option of printing out 4 notebooks yourself.

The pen also has a microphone so you can record speech (or lectures) as you write. In the playback mode, you can tap your notes and the lecture/talk/etc. will start playing from that point.

For a little more money you can also buy a conversion to text program called MyScript, which I'm currently testing with their 30 day free trial. So far it does a decent job, though some of my more hurried handwriting gets misconverted (which may mean I'll have to print more clearly henceforth). The software has a dictionary you can add your own words to (a helpful thing for a fantasy writer), which I have added names to and seen converted successfully. The software does not like page editing (crossed out words, added words etc.). Nor does it like individualized signs, like my & (which looks more like a reversed 3 with lines coming from the top and bottom). I'm trying to see if there's a way to add handwritten symbols and personal handwriting quirks to the dictionary for more accurate conversion.

The pen has a calendar feature and allows you to draw a piano and play music to entertain yourself. :) What more could a writer want?

Learn more at their website.

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