No doubt you noticed that your Livescribe pen came with a starter notebook. That’s because Livescribe pens use a special technology developed by the Anoto Group. Each Livescribe pen incorporates a tiny camera in the barrel of the device. As you write, the camera tracks your pen’s movements against a field of dots on the paper. The dot pattern is so small, it doesn’t interfere with reading and writing on the page, yet it enables the pen to know the notebook, page,and location on the page to a fraction of an inch.
The amazing thing is that the pen is not recording the actual marks you make on the paper, it’s recording the patterns you make as you write. This comes in handy if you accidentally forget to turn on your pen before taking notes. If you’re like me, this happens occasionally, but no worries. Simply turn on the pen and rewrite the same notes right over the old ones. You don’t need to be super careful to write in the same lines as before because your pen doesn’t “see” your former writing! It sees the dots and, when you sync the page, the notes will look like you’d only written them one time. Although, the paper page may look a little strange with two sets of notes, your exported pages will be fine.
Livescribe users of a mechanical mind might be thinking, “If the pen does not see the marks I’m making, how does it know the difference between writing and moving my pen to the next line or the next word?” The pen’s ink cartridge actually moves in its holder. When you are writing, pressure on the cartridge signals the camera to begin recording. When you lift the pen from the paper, the camera stops recording. If you notice stray marks connecting words or lines in your exported pages, it means the ink cartridge is not moving freely in its slot. Remove the cartridge, rotate it half a turn, and reinsert it in the barrel. If the problem persists, your pen refill may be bent. Replace it and the problem should go away. On a related note, do not wrap tape or anything like that around a refill to prevent it from moving. This defeats the trigger action of the refill.
Your starter notebook is a shortened version of the standard Livescribe A5 notebook. The full length version of the A5 size is 160 pages long and comes in sets of two or four. There are several styles in this size, and you can find them all on the Livescribe website. If you find the A5 too small, there are full size college ruled notebooks in multiple styles. The important thing is find the notebook size and style that fits you and your note taking needs.
If you don’t want to purchase Livescribe notebooks, you can print your own Livescribe paper on an inkjet printer. You will need a printer that can print in high resolution: 600 dpi or above. This may seem like an economical alternative since Livescribe notebooks cost more than their plain paper equivalents. It’s important to consider, however, that most inkjet printers can only print a hundred or so sheets on a single ink refill. The combined cost of ink and paper may outweigh the cost and convenience of preprinted Livescribe notebooks.
As mentioned earlier, your pen knows the notebooks you are currently using. As you progress through a notebook, your pen stores the updated pages in its flash memory. The amount of memory your notebook requires on the pen depends on the number of pages you’ve used and the number and length of audio recordings associated with the notebook. I use a 4Gb pen and have never run out of space. This is with four or five notebooks in simultaneous use on the pen. Each time you update a page of a notebook, the pen records the changes and marks the page for sync. The next time you sync to Evernote, the page image on the Evernote version will change to show the changes. You can go back to the first page of a notebook and add a note even though you’re already long beyond it in the notebook. Be aware, this will cause the note in Evernote to get a new updated time stamp based on when the note is synced. If you’re using Evernote’s default sort arrangement (Last Updated) you’ll suddenly see page 1 out of its logical numerical sequence. Also, if you modified the note Title after a previous sync, the updated version’s title will revert to the standard naming convention: Page Number + Notebook Style + Sequence Number.
Despite Livescribe’s efficient storage capabilities, you cannot continue to add notebooks to your pen forever. At some point you will need to archive one or more notebooks off the pen in order to start another. There are two constraints on the notebooks you can have on your pen.
- The total memory required for all active notebooks cannot exceed the available memory on the pen.
- You cannot have two active notebooks of the same style with the same sequence number on your pen. Livescribe notebooks come in sets of two or four. Each notebook has a sequential number, one through four or one through two. For example, I’m currently using A5 Grid Notebook #4. I will need to archive this notebook before I can use another copy of the same notebook from a new set of A5 Grid notebooks
Livescribe’s technology enables you to access your handwritten notes in Evernote without the hassle of using tablet or computer when you need to take notes. All you need is your pen and a Livescribe notebook.