As smartphones and tablets take over as the dominant form of communication, fewer people need to carry notes and pencils everywhere. Many of us, though, continue to want to and do so. This is because it is frequently far easier to take notes by hand rather than typing out everything you wish to record. Smartpens bridge the digital-analog divide by allowing you to convert your device into a notebook.

Some of these technologically advanced solutions record oral talks and sync them with notes scribbled on special paper. They are especially beneficial for students and office workers who need to take down notes. By allowing access to any part of a presentation with a tap, they can eliminate the time-consuming job of transcribing the whole thing. Notes that have been digitized are simple to keep, organize, search for, and share.

Here are our picks for the best smart pens for 2021:

 

Livescribe Symphony

Tech Reviews - Livescribe Symphony - Tech News

  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android 
  • Battery Life: 90 days (standby) 
  • Max Pages: 1,200 
  • Paper: Livescribe Dot Paper 
  • Audio Recording: Yes (through an app)
  • Weight: 0.98 oz
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Livescribe Symphony is at the top of our list for a reason. This premium smartpen simulates writing with an ink pen on Livescribe’s special dot paper, while the digitizer records and uploads your handwriting to the Livescribe+ app on your smartphone, tablet, or computer.

Once your notes have been transferred to a digital format, they may easily be converted to PDFs, pictures, or even searchable text documents with up to 28 language recognition. Similarly, you can share your notes or back them up to the cloud. When used in conjunction with the Livescribe+ software, the Livescribe Symphony goes beyond writing and drawing by allowing you to generate audio recordings that sync with your handwritten notes, providing more detail or context for your notes.

With a standby battery life of 90 days, you don’t need to replace the battery frequently. Additionally, if you’re taking notes away from your phone or computer, the pen’s internal storage can keep up to 1,200 pages of notes.

 

Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)

Tech Reviews - Apple Pencil 2nd Generation - Tech News

  • Compatibility: iOS 
  • Battery Life: 12 hours 
  • Audio Recordings: No
  • Paper: iPad
  • Weight: 0.73 oz
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The Apple Pencil is not your typical smartpen; it is a stylus that transforms an iPad into a writing and drawing device. Apple has generated near-Microsoft-level confusion around the Pencil by using the same name for two distinct items – the Apple Pencil and Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) – and hardly separating them on the website, despite the fact that they are incompatible.

The 2nd Generation pencil is compatible with the latest iPad models (12.9-inch and 11-inch), it is a polished, powerful writing and drawing tool. It is matte white in color and flat on one side, preventing it from rolling about. There is no Lightning port for charging; the battery is recharged when the case is connected to an iPad.

The Apple Pencil allows you to write and sketch – though only on compatible iPads. The Pencil works with a broad variety of apps; you can take handwritten notes, annotate documents, and even edit images. 

 

Wacom Bamboo Ink 2nd Gen

Tech Reviews - Wacom Bamboo Ink 2nd Gen - Tech News

  • Compatibility: Windows, LG Velvet, LG V60 
  • Battery Life: 150 Hours (1 x AAAA)
  • Audio Recording: No
  • Weight: 0.73 oz
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Active stylus input is becoming available on an increasing number of Windows laptops. With so many 2-in-1 laptops available, it only makes sense to take advantage of this feature. Many computer manufacturers offer their own styluses, however, they are usually quite expensive. Meanwhile, Wacom provides the extremely competent Bamboo Ink stylus for about $50.

This stylus is manufactured by one of the industry’s leading brands. The Bamboo Ink stylus connects to either the Wacom Active ES technology or the Microsoft Pen Protocol (MPP), enabling you to access a broad variety of devices. The stylus can immediately activate the Windows Ink Workspace on your computer without pairing, and it features 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, allowing you to truly express yourself. Additionally, two side buttons allow you to rapidly switch between settings or tools.

 

Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse

Tech Reviews - Moleskine Pen Ellipse - Tech News

  • Compatibility: Android, iOS, Windows 
  • Battery Life: 5 Hours
  • Paper: Moleskine Smart Notebooks
  • Audio Recording: No
  • Weight: 0.88 oz
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The Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse is part of the Moleskine Smart Writing System, a line of premium products from the renowned Italian papermaker. The Smart Writing System is comprised of two components: the Pen+ and the Ncoded Paper Tablets.

The Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse, like many of the smartpens we tested, requires proprietary notebooks to work. However, we can confirm that Moleskines are on top of the class, striking a balance between elegance and functionality. Unfortunately, these luxurious notebooks come at a steep price. The pen itself is slim and weighs approximately the same as five standard Bic pens. It features a triangular form and a slim profile, making it pleasant to grip and easy to write with.

In our handwriting tests, the Pen+ detected only one mistake in a 500-word piece. Similarly, even with sloppy handwriting, the software produced remarkably accurate results when transcribing the written text. Nevertheless, it did not do as well in our drawing tests, making it an unsuitable choice for artists.

 

Rocketbook Core

Tech Reviews - Rocketbook Core - Tech News

  • Compatibility: iOS, Android 
  • Max Pages: 32 (reusable) 
  • Audio Recording: No 
  • Paper: Rocketbook Paper
  • Weight: 6.3 oz
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The Rocketbook Core takes a different approach to smartpens. The Core is a notebook composed of 36 polyester composite sheets that can be wiped clean when used with the supplied Pilot FriXion pens. This requires writing clearly and naturally, followed by scanning with the app and wiping clean before reusing. As a result, this is a very economical and environmentally friendly option.

Some effort is required is scanning the pages, which is made simple by the use of a QR code. Additionally, you can select icons at the bottom of the page to have the writing posted to certain cloud storage destinations such as Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, and more. This program even recognizes handwriting, allowing you to conduct digital searches and use handwritten heads as digital titles.

 

Livescribe 3 Smartpen

Tech Reviews - Livescribe 3 - Tech News

  • Compatibility: Windows, Mac, iOS, Android 
  • Battery Life: 14 hours 
  • Paper: Livescribe Dot Paper 
  • Audio Recording: Yes (through an app)
  • Weight: 2.08 oz
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The Livescribe 3 Smartpen is incredibly precise while writing and drawing. Because of its soft rubber grip and rounded form, it’s also comfortable and simple to use. We were pleasantly surprised by the quick 30-second setup time. Once we put the app on our smartphone, syncing the pen was a breeze.

In our writing and drawing tests, we did not record a single error using the Livescribe 3 Smartpen. We were very impressed by the Livescribe app. It’s as simple as swiping left or right to digitize your handwriting. You may also start and stop audio recordings with the app or the navigation symbols printed at the bottom of Livescribe notebooks, which is a useful tool.

The battery life on this Livescribe 3 Smartpen is excellent, lasting up to 14 hours of continuous use. It is charged via a micro-USB connector on the pen’s tip. Despite being one of the fattest and heaviest digital pens we tried, the design proved surprisingly pleasant to use, especially when compared to some of the triangular digital pens we tested.

 

Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad

Tech Reviews - Wacom Bamboo Folio - Tech News

  • Compatibility: iOS or Android smartphone or tablet with Wacom Inkspace app
  • Battery Life: 8 hours 
  • Weight: 0.60 oz
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Whether you’re a beginner or a skilled artist, the Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad is an excellent smartpen for you. The accompanying smart pad enables you to use the smartpen with any type of paper, which is great for artists who need to bring their canvas all the time.

The Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad performed admirably in our writing and drawing tests, with only one minor inaccuracy across both tests. Additionally, it’s one of the most comfortable smartpens we’ve tested, with an easy-to-use twist mechanism for activation. The pen itself does not require any power, but the pad will work for eight hours on a single charge. Setting up the smart pad and pairing it with our smartphone took just over a minute.

The smart pad is user-friendly, simply slip a sheet of paper over it and begin writing. When you’re finished, simply press a button to sync the smart pad with your smartphone to upload your work. This saves your work directly to the Wacom Inkspace app. You can browse and even edit your works directly from here. If you take your drawing seriously, the Wacom Bamboo Folio is an excellent pick.

 

Neo Smartpen N2

Tech Reviews - NEO SMARTPEN N2 - Tech News

  • Compatibility: Windows, iOS, Android 
  • Storage: 90MB 
  • Battery Life: 5 hours 
  • Max Pages: 1,000 
  • Audio Recording: Yes (through smartphone app) 
  • Paper: Ncoded Paper
  • Weight: 0.77 oz
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The Neo Smartpen N2 is simple to use and feels good in your hand, although it does require special notebooks and writing pads to work.

The pen might be longer than most, but the metal body and sleek appearance make it an appealing alternative to many of the triangle digital pens on the market. It’s also really simple to use; all you have to do to switch it on is click a button on the bottom of the pen. You may also use the pen’s buttons to change the Bluetooth and pairing settings.

The Neo Smartpen N2 scored better than average in our writing and drawing tests, but there were a couple of mistakes in both. 

The Neo Smartpen N2 is charged via a micro-USB connector on the pen’s top.  The pen’s five-hour battery life may be an issue for heavy users. However, setup was easy, requiring only about 30 seconds to sync the pen with our smartphone. The Neo Smartpen N2 is a good pick if you want a sleek, metallic smartpen that functions well and feels comfortable.

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