It's not often I get wowed by a writing utensil, but there's always a first for everything. The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen has an infrared camera that tracks everything you write and draw on special Livescribe dot paper. It also records audio and syncs it to what is being written.
So if you're trying to decipher your chicken scratch or don't remember why you wrote a particular word down, just tap on a word with the pen to playback what was said when that stroke was drawn.
As a journalist, this is a fantastic tool. And I know this would have been a helpful study aid for those classes when the professor talks faster than you can write!
You can also upload your notes as images, share them with classmates and search for words within the notes. Surprisingly, it was able to understand my bad handwriting.
It also did a great job at recording audio from a work conference room meeting. There's the option to use your headphones as recording microphones, but the mic inside the pen was good enough to catch people speaking across the conference table. (Had to turn up the volume to hear the folks speaking far away from me, but for the most part it did a pretty good job of catching everything.)
I didn't get to test out the recording quality from a college-type lecture hall. But when I used the earbud headphones to record sound in a large room, it would be so sensitive that it amplified the sound of my pen scratching against the paper. The pen's internal mic worked best for me in meetings and interviews, but I can't say how close you have to be to the professor in an auditorium to get good audio.
In today's review (which you can read here), I mention that this pen only works when using special Livescribe brand dot paper, so you'll have to buy Livescribe notebooks for it to work. I've been told today that in a few months they will allow users to download and print as much dot paper they want for free.
Now if only this pen could actually do your homework for you...