Yesterday I finally completed the dreaded task of getting a Livescribe pen set up as a tester. I had a feeling it would not be easy, because I've had difficulty connecting them to the computer almost every time I've used them. It would probably be different if I used one myself on a regular basis rather than multiple pens as testers. The next paragraph describes the hassle I went through to get the pen connected. If you aren't interested in the details, skip it to get the lesson learned :)
The paper replay function worked fine. That is the aspect where you write on the special paper and it records what you're saying and writing and plays it back on demand. When I went to connect it to my Mac to get the recordings off of it, it said that I needed to "reset the smartpen real time clock" and pointed me toward a knowledge base (KB) article. Oddly enough, the first paragraph indicated that if I was referred there by Livescribe Desktop, it may not actually be a problem with the clock and instead said that it may be due to recently upgrading to Lion (which I did), so I was then instructed to uninstall and reinstall Livescribe Desktop. So I did. And it still didn't work. The error message sent me to the same KB article but this time I actually read the instructions to uninstall and reinstall Livescribe Desktop. Well, it is way more complicated than actually uninstalling and reinstalling and I had to do some weird stuff with trashing a bunch of other files under Preferences. So I did that and reinstalled it. And it still didn't work! I actually got a different pen in case this one was corrupt. Still didn't work. I went back to the original article (the one about resetting the clock) and saw that another recommended fix to try was to rename the Livescribe Desktop data folder which I was just about to do. However, the first step in the instructions said to make sure the pen was connected directly to the computer's USB port, not a USB port on a hub, keyboard, or monitor. Since the lovely Mac only has two USB ports, I plug most things into the hub which is where the Livescribe pen was plugged in. I sighed, sure this simple solution would be the answer, and of course, it worked.
Lesson learned: when you're having problems with something that's plugged in via a USB, try plugging it into the computer's USB port directly rather than a hub before scouring knowledge bases and uninstalling and reinstalling things for almost 2 hours.
On a related note, a new Livescribe pen just came out that transmits data via wifi and does not need to be plugged in. About time! It's called the Livescribe Sky. Here's a review from Time. Unfortunately we just bought 5 Echos. I did order a Sky to test and see how well it really works and if the convenience is worth the extra $50. Based on the time I spent yesterday trying to get it to work, my answers is already yes but we'll see if other problems emerge. Stay tuned!