If you have never used a Livescribe smartpen, you may want to watch the following video which we created to introduce our students to the smartpens.
Below are a few sample recordings that were made using the Livescribe smartpens. (At the moment, they require Flash.)
Click on any of the questions to learn more about using Livescribe smartpens in your class and/ or research project:
The easiest way to purchase a pen is directly from Livescribe via their website. In fact... if you navigate there via this link, you can save 15% on your purchase! You can (sometimes) find the pens in brick & mortar stores, but they are often not well stocked so the choices are more limited than at livescribe.com. In our project, we've used the 2GB pens with no problem. Each one of these can able to easily store a student's work over an entire semester. Especially since it's possible to archive the recordings, thereby freeing up memory on the pen, there seems to be little reason to buy the more costly pens with greater memory. The Echo pens are currently selling for roughly $100 each. (Refurbished ones can cost ~25% less.) The 8.5"x11" spiral notebooks cost about $5 each and are a useful investment over the smaller sample notebook that comes with the pen.
The older Echo pens require one to upload the pencast recordings to a computer via a USB cable before they can put on the Internet. While this system requires an extra syncing step, it does give the user access to the pencast files for backing up and/ or viewing offline. The Sky pens have WiFi capabilities and can therefore upload directly to the Livescribe server. In fact, they currently cannot connect directly to a computer. It remains to be seen how this affects one's ability to backup pencasts or view them offline. Livescribe is currently changing their ecosystem with a focus on "the" cloud and will eventually stop producing and supporting the Echo pens. (In addition to private communication with Livescribe supporting this hypothesis, there have been public comments saying, "We see the Livescribe desktop as an antiquated model.")
There are several ways to share pencasts made with Echo smartpens, each has its strengths and weaknesses. Assuming that you don't want to post the recordings on Livescribe site such that they are viewable by anybody, you're probably going to utilize e-mail. The first option uses the Livescribe software to create and send the e-mail. Livescribe has a short video on how to utilize the shortcut feature in Connect. Once the connectors and shortcuts have been configured,pencasts can then be sent to the instructor (or other students) by simply drawing a line back and forth in a notebook and writing the shortcut that was set up. Then, the next time the smartpens is synchronized with the computer, the pencast(s) will be sent automagically. (Unless... you're trying to use an Exchange server. In our experience, the Exchange connector did not properly connect to the server.) The time setting up the connectors and shortcuts can easily be recouped over a semester when many pencasts are to be sent. If the number of shared pencasts is to be small, then it may be easier to simply export ("Send to...") the pencast recording to one's computer. Then, manually attach the file to an e-mail in one's e-mail application/ website. Simpler, but tedious over a course.
One of the "features" of the Livescribe smartpens is that each must be tied to a user account. (This is to prevent the unauthorized sharing of purchased apps; yes, you can buy apps for your pen.) The pen and computer software must have the same user account. In our project we have decided to register all of our Echo pens to a single account. (We do this prior to the semester by manually synchronizing and configuring each pen.) Each student is given the username/ e-mail and password so they can setup their personal computers for syncing. Yes, a student can change the password, which causes everybody else's syncing to have problems. As long as the instructor has exclusive access to the e-mail account, he/ she can always reset the password. (An e-mail note from Livescribe notifies the instructor if somebody has attempted to change the password so the problem can be dealt with quickly.) One of the pulses of the shared account system is that at the end of the semester, when students return their pens, we are able to access the recordings. If students were to create their own accounts it would negate the need for us to configure the pens prior to the course, but when they're returned we would not be able to access the pencasts. (All of this information assumes that one is using Echo smartpens. We're still testing the account system with the Sky smartpens, which have to be connected to an Evernote's user account.)
Sort of... The core of the issue is that the Echo player (in the app and on the Livescribe website) is based on Flash technology, which famously doesn't play well with iOS. There is a Pencast Viewer App for iOS devices, but not Android ones.(A secondary limitation is that the existing app only allows one to view pencasts stored in one user's account. Just like the desktop software and smartpens, the mobile app requires a user to sign in.) If you bothered clicking the iTunes link you would have noticed that the software has not been updated since August 2011. Among other things, this means that the app does not work with iOS6. Livescribe has put all of their energy into the new Sky smartpen and ecosystem. One of the features of this ecosystem is that the player is HTML5, not Flash, based. The most likely scenario seems to be that there will be no mobile app, and instead users will simply view the pencasts within their web browsers. This should improve usage on mobile devices... once the bugs have been worked out of the system. The current version of the web-based Sky player has lots of incomplete code and portions that are commented out, "<!-- Hidden until we add configurations -->", "<!--- Unused --->".