Eliot's Ramblings

LiveScribe vs. Phone Camera

I’ve been using this new toy. Well, it’s for work, but until the novelty wears off, it’s definitely also a toy.

I like taking notes in meetings on paper as much as possible. It’s less distracting, and more friendly. I’ve tried various ways of doing this, but nothing has stuck yet. The closest has been a regular notebook. The biggest problem is that I don’t like carrying things to and from work, or to different places. So I invariably end up with 4 notebooks, and then I can’t get notes from a trip when I’m at the office.

I’ve been checking out Livescribe. They make a special pen with a camera in it (I have the Livescribe 3), which works with special paper that has a teeny (nearly invisible) grid of dots printed on it. The pen talks to an app on my phone via bluetooth, capturing what I write in real-time. The notes sync automatically to Evernote, where I file them.

I can leave a notebook in every location I might want to take notes, and then view them from anywhere. Kind of nifty.

Once I started trying this out, though, I started thinking about the problem in general, and wondered if there wasn’t a way to accomplish what I needed without carrying around another dedicated piece of hardware. Like I said, travelling light is top priority for me.

So I tried making do with hardware I already carry around everywhere – my phone. It’s pretty quick to save a new “snapshot note” in Evernote, which is where my notes wind up, anyhow. That actually works much better than you might think. There are two issues, though. LiveScribe will transcribe handwriting to text, which I can then go back and edit, or copy for pasting. Even more of an issue for me is I have to remember to take the picture. I’m not great at remembering things when I’m done with one thing and starting to think about the next.

So… remember the pen, or remember to take the picture? Is it going to be worth it enough to me to carry around a special pen all the time? I’m not sure, but I’ll let you know in a week or so where I land.