Thursday, November 8, 2012

Livescribe Sky: Meh

Livescribe came out with a new smartpen called the Sky that transmits content wirelessly to Evernote. With previous pens such as the Echo, it was necessary to connect the pen to the computer via a cord and use the Livescribe Desktop app to download content.

I eagerly tried it out my new Sky pen yesterday. It looks just like a normal Livescribe pen - same awkwardly thick size.

Set up

Getting it ready to use was a little cumbersome. I only had my iPad with me (no computer) and wasn't able to get it set up because it is necessary to download the "Livescribe Helper" app to update the firmware on the pen before it can be used. The website says that eventually the app will not be needed because the firmware updates will occur over the air. The app is also a back up to download content via the cord when wifi is not available.

Eventually when I had my computer, I finished the set up which involves creating/logging in to both a Livescribe and Evernote account. I had both, so it was not a problem. I use Evernote all the time to sync notes across all my devices.

Then I had to set the language, hand orientation, and date/time, but I didn't have the quick set up guide to do so. When I finally found that (I actually used one from an old Echo pen), I was really ready to get started.

Use & Syncing

The paper replay function works just like a regular Livescribe pen. It is the transmission of content afterwards that is different. The new notebooks to go with the Sky have a keyboard and additional "buttons" printed on them to use with the additional functionality of the Sky. To use the keyboard, you tap the printed buttons with the Livescribe pen.

If you don't have wifi on all the time (which is good to save battery life), the first step when you're ready to sync is to scan for wifi networks, then you can scroll through them to choose one and select it. The keyboard is there in case you need to enter a password. I read in another review that it isn't possible to use them with wifi at hotels that requires login through a webpage. That's one reason they still give you a cord.

I synced the pen by tapping the "sync now" button on the paper and then went to Evernote and clicked sync. The content was available right away after both had synced.

There are additional wifi share buttons to email and send to Google Drive, Facebook, and Dropbox but they don't work yet; I read that will be available in early 2013.

Drawbacks/Unsolved Problems

  • It's not possible to save the pencast as pdf with audio as you can with the Echo. I think that is a really nice option, because it allows you to avoid being reliant on Livescribe's servers and you have an offline back up. Right now, the cloud/online is the only option. 
  • It seems the only privacy settings are public or private just to the creator via Evernote. With Livescribe Desktop, you could invite specific people to view a pencast.
  • I do not see a way to get embed code. I like to embed videos in D2L to reduce issues with pop-up blockers.
  • Speaking of pop-up blockers, when I put a link to a pencast in D2L, it was blocked in both Safari and Firefox even though I chose "open in new window" - it seemed to work better when I chose "same frame." I'll keep testing in other browsers. 
  • On my iPad, I could view a pen cast via the Evernote app, but I couldn't open them when linked to on the D2L Content page in Safari or Chrome. They just didn't work. They are HTML5, so they should...
  • I still don't see a way to caption the pencasts for disability accessibility or edit them. I'd like to see a "share to YouTube" option to take advantage of their functionality in both regards. 
  • I read in other reviews that leaving the wifi on greatly reduces battery life. If you are being conscientious of battery life and syncing specifically after the recording, is it worthwhile to have the wireless syncing? 
  • One thing I just realized but I haven't tried yet, is sharing pencasts that are multiple pages. Apparently Evernote breaks them up into multiple pencasts, which I think could be confusing. 
I was really excited to learn that Livescribe was updating to wireless content transmission, but I am disappointed that they reduced some functionality to make it happen, for an extra $50. That's why I'm giving it a "meh." I'm sure it will get better though, so I'll pay attention. 

No comments:

Post a Comment