Digital Pen Recorder Selection Tips

How to choose a digital voice recorder smartpen that meets your needs!

What are the top digital pen recorder selection tips? I believe the top digital smartpen selection tip is to choose a pen that captures a complete audio recording and synchronizes the recording to notes and drawings.

Avid note takers have realized that mobile devices such as tablets and smartphones fall short when it comes to taking notes, compared to the good old pen and papers. For many of them, digital smartpens are the answer. But how to select the best digital pen recorder that fits your need? The following may just be the answer.

What are digital smartpens?

Digital pens – or digital smartpens, if you like – are pens that allow you to store what you write on paper in an electronic format. You can then upload your notes onto your computer for searching, updating, organization and management.

What you do with your notes afterwards is dependent on the smartpen capabilities, features, and supporting software.

If you are considering buying one, the following list may help you select the best digital pen recorder for you.

10 Questions to Answer Before Buying a Digital Smart Pen

1 – Does it fulfill the most important and Primary function – produce a complete audio recording?

The key function for a digital pen recorder is that the pen is an awesome audio recorder as well as capturing handwritten notes and drawings.  A Livescribe smartpen is unique because the pen can capture a complete audio record of a meeting, a lecture, or a class and synchronize the audio with handwritten notes or drawings.

2 – Will it last the distance – Battery life?

Make sure that the battery life is sufficient for your needs, that it will last from the moment you unplug it from its cradle or USB connector until you plug it back again.

The best digital smartpen should be sufficient for at least a whole working or academic day – around 5 hours in action and 4 in standby.

Check for the time it takes to fully charge from empty.

3 – Is it big enough – Memory capacity?

Depending on the capabilities of the pen, each pen will have its memory demand for your content, its software, and downloaded applications.

Most pens give you the option to delete the content when it finishes uploading it on the computer. This helps keeping a consistent healthy free space on your pen. Depending on how often you upload the content, if it won’t free space faster than it fills, then this is not the best smart pen for you.

Try to find out how long will it last in real terms – i.e. either pages or hours of writing and audio recording if it supports that feature.

4 – How easy it is to set up and connect to PC or Mac?

Make sure that the associated software is compatible with your operating systems. The best digital smartpens should offer support for both PC and Mac.

Also read reviews to discover how user-friendly is the setup and interface of the software.

5 – Can you hear yourself thinking – Audio integration support?

Some pens offer audio recording features, and some go one further by offering audio, text and drawing integration, that is the awareness of the relationship between the notes and drawings taken and the audio recorded at the time.

Surprisingly, pens that support audio integration are not much dearer than regular digital smartpens – some are even cheaper; thus, you’d get more value for your money if you invest in one.

Check the support for Audio integration, not just voice recording. Also check for its searching capabilities, and its audio manipulation functions, that is rewinding and forwarding audio, and controlling the pace.

Look for a realistic pen and paper experience, quality ink, and comfort while writing. Your experience of the best smart pen should be closest to your regular pen and paper experience.

6 – Can you find notes a week later – Search function?

It’s no good saving something if you can’t find it weeks later. Look for the search capabilities on both your personal online webspace on your computer, and the digital smartpen itself. Some let you write down the keyword and the pen will search for it.

Make sure you can find what you are looking for quickly and efficiently.

If the pen supports audio, make sure the audio is as easily searchable as text. Some let you search and replay audio by tapping on the note taken at the time of recording.

7 – Can it read your writing – handwriting conversion?

Is software available that takes your handwritten notes and convert them to digital text, which looks neater, more searchable, and easier to share and publish.

8 – Is it a team player – collaboration?

An important feature for students and business users alike – the best digital pen recorder should allow you to create virtual notebooks, and notes for  sharing via mobile phone, Facebook, and email.

Some even allow Pencasts, which are audiovisual integration clips that could be shared and broadcasted. Check if the pen offers online space and community for publishing your pencasts.

9 – What are the Running costs – Costs of material and accessories?

Consider the running cost of the pen – special paper, ink cartridges, applications, and accessories.

10 – Got your back covered – Customer support and warranty.

This is, perhaps, the most important most commonly ignored aspect when buying any device. Make sure you know the terms of warranty.

Read the reviews about the manufacturer’s customer support performance. The best digital pen recorder should be backed by a highly responsive and performing customer support.

Pen is Personal

Because choosing the best digital pen recorder for different people could be difficult – especially when you are buying it as a gift -, I’ve compiled a list of features that are pertinent to different groups that could benefit from a digital pen.

Choosing a pen that is right for –

Academically gifted students and students looking to up their performance:

  • Voice recording capability to capture a complete audio recording
  • Audio integration, in order not to miss important details.
  • Collaboration and sharing of virtual notebooks.
  • Availability of pencasts for exporting via email or mobile phone to friends
  • Advanced search capability for quick recollection and replay of notes.
  • Familiarity and repetition – especially for children and adults with autism or Aspergers syndrome.
  • Pen casts, for supporting teachers in remote education and home schooling.
  • Applications that support learning through exercises and games.
  • Advanced language packs, and dictionary integration – preferably with voice for the correct pronunciation.
  • Audio control functions to allow them to slow down recorded voice pace – especially as some lecturers are fast paced or have a regional accent
  • Ample battery life to last a full school day.
  • Data security and protection – find a pen that locks with a password or a pin.

Students with learning difficulties:

  • Applications that support learning through exercises and games.
  • Familiarity and repetition – especially for children and adults with autism or Aspergers syndrome.
  • Audio control functions to allow them to slow down recorded voice pace – especially as some lecturers are fast paced or have a regional accent.
  • Voice recording capability to capture a complete audio recording

ESL and foreign students

  • Applications that support learning through exercises and games.
  • Advanced language packs, and dictionary integration – preferably with voice for the correct pronunciation.
  • Audio control functions to allow them to slow down recorded voice pace – especially as some lecturers are fast paced or have a regional accent.
  • Voice recording capability to capture a complete audio recording

Business and General use

  • Voice recording capability to capture a complete audio recording
  • Need High performance smartpen as business professionals tend to take more notes, and subsequently need higher memory capacity and longer battery life.
  • Advanced search functions for minimal time wasting.
  • Adequate memory – as information tend to stay on the pen for a long time.
  • Ample battery life to last a full business day.
  • Audio integration for meetings, interviews, and brainstorming.
  • Efficient handwriting to text conversion.
  • Collaboration and sharing.
  • Data security and protection – find a pen that locks with a password or a pin.
  • Multi-lingual support and advanced language packs – especially for professionals who tend to travel a lot.
  • For conferences, a binaural stereo headset designed to support audio coming from multiple directions isolating the sound being recorded and suppressing background noise
  • Collaboration and sharing.
  • Data security and protection – find a pen that locks with a password or a pin.
  • Multi-lingual support and advanced language packs – especially for professionals

The bottom line

Digital smartpens are awesome pieces of technology, they are useful for any avid note taker and they are perfect as student supplies. If you follow the above guidelines you will definitely find the best digital pen recorder for you, or the person for whom you are buying. As a student supplies or student aid, you can’t go wrong with one of them.

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