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Livescribe Mac ships for the ultimate "handheld"

By John Rizzo

Monday, March 16, 2009

Livescribe Inc. is now shipping Livescribe Desktop for Mac 1.0, free software that will let Mac users download notes and audio from the company's Pulse Smartpen-a computer-in-a-pen, complete with RAM. The ink pen records what the user writes on special paper. When the SmartPen is conneted to a Mac or PC via a USB cable, the Livescribe Desktop software displays the handwritten text and drawings recorded the pen as if they were a scan of the paper it was written on. Livescribe Desktop includes optical character recognition so that users can search for key words. The pen also records audio, tied specifically to what you were writing when a passage was recorded. You can see a demonstration here.

The Livescribe software has been available for Windows, but the Mac version became available as a public beta last November. At Macworld Expo in January, Livescribe won a 2009 Best of Show Award.

The Pulse Smartpen contains a computer, with flash RAM and the ability to run it's own software. It can also record audio that is linked to particular text or drawings. When you tap on a portion of the paper, the pen replays what was recorded from moment it was written. Livescribe Desktop for Mac can import the audio to a Mac as an AAC file, plays back in QuickTime Player. Use the mouse to click part of a drawing or text and any audio that is linked to it will play. (The Windows version of Livescript Desktop cannot yet import audio from the pen).

The Pulse Smartpen comes with either 1 GB (US$149) or 2 GB (US$199) of flash RAM. The Smartpen can also run applications from Livescribe and third-party developers. User write on special paper that uses tiny dots to keep track of what is being written. Livescribe offers the paper in different sized notebooks, and users can print their own dot paper.

The software requires an Intel-powered Mac and Mac OS X 10.5 or later.

The company said that among Livescribe Desktop for Mac 1.0 features is the ability to "Share your notes and recordings as pencasts online via Facebook." Other the following features:

  • Listen to and watch Paper Replay recordings on the Mac
  • Search for words within your handwritten notes
  • Export AAC audio file to share with others, play in iTunes, or listen to on an iPod
  • Save and share your notes as a PDF file
  • Connect to Livescribe Online to browse and upload notes and recordings

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