Livescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen APA00003 Review

I usually skip press releases, but on that lazy afternoon this press release in the New York Times grabbed my attention. It featured a review of the Livescribe product line of digital smartpens, which is the subject of today’s Livescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen APA-00003 Review.

I started using a Livescribe Smartpen a couple years ago and fell in love with its abilities to capture a complete audio recording of a lecture as well as well as my notes and drawings.

I could buy a recording of the Conference for a couple hundred dollars but I had my own complete voice recording with notes, formulas and comments by the speaker and other attendees off line after the talk.  The recordings at that Conference paid for my Livescribe smartpen!

After research 0f both the Livescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen APA-00003 and the Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen APA-00009, I decided to write a Livescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen APA-00003 Review to share some of my experiences.

Using my Livescribe Pulse, I can record absolutely every word of a class or lecture, focusing my attention on the lecture rather than notetaking!  If I want to add to the audio recording or add handwritten notes of observations by classmates or the instructor, I can replay the lecture and add to the audio or digital text or drawings.

Saving and searching on the pen or the personal Livescribe Online webspace is a breeze.  I can upload my recordings to my computer for organization and searching.

Sharing with friends and colleagues has just gotten easier as Livescribe has enhanced social networking capabilities, adding email capability for a $14.95 additional charge for Livescribe Pulse APA-00003 and Livescribe Echo 2 GB Smartpen Starter Pack APA-00009 owners.

All the Livescribe digital smartpens are great: my extensive research showed that the digital pen that I thought was the best value for the money was the Livescribe Pulse 2GB Smartpen (APA-00003) so I bought a Pulse 2GB Smartpen.

The Livescribe 2 GB Pulse APA-00003 now sells for $169.95.

Livescribe has come out with a new Smartpen Starter Bundle, the Livescribe 2 GB Echo  Smartpen Starter Pack APA-00009, for $99.95.  This Echo smartpen, (APA-00009) is now the lowest entry in the Echo Product Line and the current Livescribe choice for students or professionals who do not require volumes of recording daily..

The APA-00003 has been priced again at $169.95 an excellent value for a pen with headset and almost all of the capabilities and features of the Livescribe Echo Product Line. The new Livescribe offering, the Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen Starter Pack APA-00009 at $99.95 is a little more powerful than the Livescribe 2GB Pulse, the smartpen uses a built-in micro USB port for charging and transfer and the Echo audio jack supports a more powerful 3D headset. Otherwise Pulse and Echo 2GB features and capabilities are the same.

For a great deal on a Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen click here:Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen Starter Pack (APA-00009) the new 2GB pen introduced recently, also targeted for students.

This Livescribe 2 GB Pulse Smartpen Review is for the APA-00003 but here are a few of the differences in the new Echo 2 GB Smartpen APA-00009.

  • Echo Pen Redesigned–More comfortable to use for long periods
  • USB built in–no cradle
  • Audio jack 3.5 rather than 2.5–enables you to use your own superior binaural headset or Livescribe’s binaural earbuds for listening and recording audio all around you for large classrooms, auditoriums or conference rooms.

For more information on the Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen Starter Pack APA-00009 Click Here:Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen Starter Pack (APA-00009)

What on Earth is a Smartpen?

A smartpen, is one that electronically stores what you write on paper; and later allows you to upload it on your computer, where it is searchable, more accessible, and can be converted from handwriting to digital text (using the optional My Script for Livescribe) .

VIDEO: I have inserted a video by my friend Scott Foster of the award-winning Livescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen at the bottom of this post.

The Livescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen is featured in this video by web designer and copywriter Scott Foster.  Scott owns a Pulse Smartpen as I do.  This video shows how much Scott believes in the pens and their value.  He presents a clear demonstration of the Livescribe smartpens’ easy-to-use transcription functionality, allowing you to record everything you write and draw, edit the recordings, and convert the handwriting to digital text.
In addition to the features described in the video, the killer app for all models of the Pulse and Echo smartpens are the digital voice recorders that can capture every word of a speech, lecture, conversation or tutoring session.  The audio recordings are very clearly indexed to synchronize with your written notes, a groundbreaking feature allowing easy access to playback from any point in the recording.
All the Pulse and Echo smartpens share these amazing feature sets; to compare the differences in storage and audio outputs, check out my handy side-by-side comparison of the models here.

Livescribe 2 GB Pulse Smartpen APA-00003, and Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen APA-00009 both support digital voice  recording with digital  text and drawing integration, pencasts. The pencasts can be uploaded to the 500 MB Livescribe personal online webspace, the Livescribe Desktop where the pencasts can be searched, retrieved, updated, and shared.

Livescribe offers Connect Basic, their social networking capability which allows  sharing through the online community, including Facebook, mobile phones and the Livescribe Online Community. The new Connect Premium includes email capability.

From the Livescribe Desktop, you can export your notes and audio to PDF formats, to CDs and similar media.

My Review of the Livescribe 2 GB Pulse Smartpen APA-00003

What you get

Out of the box, you get:

  • Livescribge 2 GB Pulse smartpen
  • Dot paper starter notebook: Special paper with DPS ( Dot positioning system)
  • 3-D Recording Headset
  • USB mobile charging cradle
  • Protective soft case
  • Interactive Getting Started Guide
  • Tips and Tricks
  • 2 ink cartridges

First Look–Pen Design Excellent

If you are a compulsive note taker, either by nature like me or by necessity, you will appreciate the special relationship between you and your pen of choice. You develop this preference and comfort using a certain pen over any other. You know it because when you are using a different pen, there is a little flashing light at the back of your mind telling you something is just not right.

This is why before looking into the pen’s functionality, it was as important to me to make sure that I can get used to using the pen for long periods.  It is a comfortable pen to use!

The Livescribe 2 GB Pulse Smartpen comes in metallic silver with black tips at both ends. The blue light on the black background of its OLED display screen is pleasing and easy on the eye. The pen’s body finishing is smooth and modern. Overall Pulse is not as dorky looking as many other digital pens.

I was surprised at how comfortable and light it felt in my hands. The ink was of decent quality; as it flowed on the paper neatly. It felt natural. For me, this was the yes-I-can-work-with-this-pen moment, which allowed me to move on to more practical matters.

Livescribe Pulse 2 GB Smartpen APA-00003 In action

Audio Recording and Integration

Perhaps the main feature that distinguishes Livescribe smartpens from other digital pens  is its audio recording and integration capabilities. Not only does it record voice, it can record absolutely everything the speaker says.

It also maintains the relationship between written text, drawings and audio.

To put it simply, The pen is aware of which notes are taken at which time of audio recording and vice versa, allowing you to quickly get to a certain voice recording spot by tapping on the note that you jotted down at the time of the recording.

This feature is the heart and soul of Livescribe Pulse 2 GB Smartpen. If you are a student, you won’t miss a word of any lecture, no matter how absent minded or tired you are; if you are a professional using Livescribe Pulse, you will stop worrying too much about jotting down everything said and recording  minutes, and concentrate more what was said in your your meeting, conference, or interview.

Audio Sound and Controls

I found the pens playback sound clear, its volume adequate, and its noise reduction efficient. I was impressed by the quality of sound in a conference environment and big spaces, especially when using the 3-D recording headset that comes with the pen. This could be important in the classroom or lecture halls for students and in conferences and conventions for professionals.

Audio control is another strong feature in Livescribe 2 GB Pulse smartpen. It allows you to manage the speed of audio on playback. You can listen to the audio slowed down or speeded up using tapping on the designated icons on your notebook.  You can also tap on a keyword in your notes to begin replay with the keyword.

Storage Capacity and Battery

Livescribe Pulse 2 GB smartpen APA-00003 is backed by 2GB of memory, which equates to almost two hundred hours of text and audio or thousands of pages.  Of course, you continually free memory space by uploading the pen content to your PC or Mac. Thus, you are not likely to be constrained in memory space with Livescribe Pulse 2 GB Pulse smartpen.

The battery can easily last for 5 hours of writing and recording, not counting the standby time. If you are an avid note taker, this is just enough for a full 8-to-10 hour day at school, at college, or at the office; if you take fewer notes and record less during the day, the battery is likely to last you 2 days (During which you would have probably charged your iPhone 4 times).

Lost and found: Livescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen APA-00003 Searching capabilities

With such memory, the amount of stored information can be daunting to think about, let alone go through. Hence, Livescribe had to get the Pulse Smartpen searching feature spot-on. They did.

The pen allows searching from the desktop interface on the computer, and more importantly from the pen itself. The latter is quite the nifty feature, for all you need to do is to find a word or phrase, write it on the dot paper and press search. The pen will go through its memory and find all the relevant occurrences in its content. You can then play the audio you are looking for by pressing play.

This audio indexing capability is not only useful in searching, but also in breaking down long lectures and speeches into manageable, more intelligible, topics using a heading note for each topic.

On the computer desktop software, search is available through a search box. Again, enter the keyword or keyword phrase and the pen will return all relevant occurrences in the text files and their associated audio files.

PC and Mac Integration

The desktop software setup is straight forward and requires only a basic knowledge of computers. When it comes to usage, the software is intuitive and, pretty much, self-explanatory.

Compatible with both PC and Mac, Livescribe connects to the computer through its docking station (Livescribe calls it a cradle for some reason) which connects to the computer through a USB cable for recharging, uploading the pen contents and synchronization.

The “cradle” is magnetic, and the pen clips on it without a fuss. It works well and actually looks good on the desk. I have had no problem with my pen rolling off the table!

Making the most of a Livescribe 2 GB Pulse Smartpen APA-00003


For me, the Pencasts feature was a real plus for the pen. Pencasts are audiovisual clips that could be uploaded, updated, and shared on Livescribe online webspace.

You get a free 500MB of webspace storage for your pencasts. The space is enough for sharing tens of pencasts. You can manage this webspace by archiving old Pencasts.

Handwriting to text conversion

Livescribe MyScript handwriting to text conversion is available for a fee ($30). The software allows you to export your handwritten notes to digital text.


The pen also offers, for a fee, optional applications. Here are some that I found most useful:

  • American Heritage 70,000 words English Dictionary: It enables you to find the meaning of the word by either tapping on it, or writing it down. It comes with audio support, so that you can listen to the pronunciation of the words you look them up.
  • English/Spanish-Spanish/English 40,000 words Dictionary: This one truly impressed me, as it allows you to write the word in English, and it gives you the translation in Spanish and vice versa. It also comes with an audio capability for the pronunciation.
  • Travel Apps: Although not as elaborate as the aforementioned Spanish app multiple travel apps are available to download on Livescribe website. These apps allow you to write sentences in English and translate them to the selected language. This is particularly useful with cabs in foreign countries.


Livescribe 2 GB Pulse Smartpen (APA-00003) comes with a 1year warranty.

Livescribe 2 GB Pulse Smartpen Review Highlights

Although I have not yet needed to contact Livescribe’s customer support, the reviews on the internet are more than favorable. So far, every single review I came across praised the customer support quality and response. It is good to know that if I have a problem with the pen, I am likely to get good support.

Ready for business

Business professionals will find the Livescribe Pulse 2 GB smartpen APA-00003 particularly useful in meeting, conference, and interview environments. The ability to concentrate on what is being said instead of worrying about taking minutes is one that every professional would treasure.

The pen could enable medical professionals and psychiatrist to record and replay their patient notes and interview, without missing anything that may seem irrelevant at first. It is also useful for nurses on the phone to keep track of their phone interview and diagnosis.

Professionals who do floor walking, such as doctors, inspectors, health and safety officers, and security specialists, will also find the pen of great help.

Livescribe 2 GB Pulse Smartpen APA-00003 as an academic companion

Students are perhaps the ones who would benefit the most from Livescribe Pulse smartpen. The pen provides them with a plethora of tools and practices that should help them enhance their academic performance.

The most obvious, is the student ability to record every lectures without missing a single word, an invaluable feature for high achievers and the absent minded all the same, for different reasons of course.

The collaboration features such as Pencasts and shared virtual notebooks enhance note exchange, and sharing a quick explanation for problem solutions. This is particularly useful for student who miss a lot of lectures because of illness, travel, or student engagements.

The searching capabilities and handwriting to text transformation, cuts down time wasted in searching and organizing lessons to a minimum.

Dictionaries, Spanish dictionary, and language packs will help language students excel. It will also help English Language Learners and foreign students in bettering their lesson comprehension, and cutting down the time taken in looking up difficult words and mastering pronunciation.

Students for whom English is not the first language will also make the most of the audio pace control capabilities of the smartpen. They can replay the audio with a slower pace than the original recording, which helps them understand the topics better, especially if the lecturer is a fast paced speaker or has a regional accent.

The pen’s portability is also a feature that is most useful to students, it saves them carrying around laptops or tablets and other bulky, expensive equipment that are more liable to breaking and getting damaged.

For a good cause

Now, to a subject that is close to my heart, in which I have first hand experience. That is education of children with learning difficulties, such as ADD/ADHD, and children with autism or Apergers syndrome.

I see the potential of this Livescribe Pulse smartpen in enhancing the quality of education and the overall learning experience for those children.

The ability to record lessons on the pen and allowing academically challenged children to study them at their own pace would give them a feeling of independence and a sense of achievement, which in turn alter their perception of the learning process.

Educational applications available for the pen can also help them learn through playing and game-like exercises.

Children on the autism spectrum usually need repetition to increase their familiarity with the learning material; the pen’s audio replay function fills this gap nicely. It can also save Parent’s a substantial amount of tutoring fees, as children needing constant repetition will find the ability free in the pen.

Creativity Penstorming

For creative professionals, or those who have a creative hobby, the pen is perfect for brainstorming, and makes great writers and poets notebook. It enables creative minds to harness that spur of moment inspiration and quickly recording it.

Designers who annotate their drawings and designs will find the pen handy when on the go instead of having to flip open their laptops and go through unneeded processes, or alternatively put it on a piece of paper liable to getting lost.

Is it Flawless?

No, the pen, as everything else, has its flaws. For a start, although it is really comfortable, it has to be said that it is not quite as comfortable as the Livescribe Echo.

The handwriting conversion software not being included in the price is a frequent issue that many reviewers have raised.

But perhaps the most frequently reported issue is that left on its own, without being secured in its cradle or carry case, the pen tends to roll on flat surfaces with the propensity of a beach ball on a windy day. So if you buy it, remember to secure it.

Those who write in a particularly small handwriting, will need to adapt their writing so that the pen can read it.

Value for money

For me, based on the features, capabilities, service, and price, I believe that Livescribe Pulse is an excellent pen.  The two Echo pens are now  the best value for money all-round. I bought a Livescribe 2 GB Pulse Smartpen based on research, testing and pricing at the time.

Livescribe 2GB Pulse Smartpen APA-00006 Review:  The Bottom Line

Livescribe Pulse 2 GB Smartpen APA-00003 is just the right technology for business professionals and students. It’s capabilities and potential are high. The challenge is finding a field where the pen is not useful. If you are a student, a business professional, a writer or a poet, you should try this pen, it will be a faithful companion all the way. If you are thinking of buying this pen as a gift, think no more, buy it, you cannot go wrong with this one.

I hope you have found the opinions expressed in the Livescribe Pulse 2 GB Smartpen APA-00003 Review helpful!

For a great deal on a Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen click here: Livescribe 2 GB Echo Smartpen Starter Pack (APA-00009) the new 2GB pen introduced recently, also targeted for students.

I have inserted below a video on the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen prepared by my friend Scott Foster of Need an, a great place to visit to address your copywriting and website design needs. Scott shows you the smartpen and a few of the things you can do with it, so easily!
In addition to the features described in the video, all the Pulse and Echo pens are voice recorders that can capture every word of a speech, lecture, conversation or tutoring session.  The audio recordings are very clearly indexed to synchronize with your written notes, a groundbreaking feature allowing easy access to playback from any point in the recording.  The Pulse and Echo share these amazing feature sets; to compare the differences in storage and audio outputs, check out my handy side-by-side comparison of the models here.
Scott Foster’s Copywritng and Website Design site is

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