The 6 Best Digital Pens

Updated September 05, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

6 Best Digital Pens
Best High-End
Best Mid-Range
Best Inexpensive
We spent 41 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top choices for this wiki. Back in the old days, if you wanted to record some notes, you would use a dictaphone. And if you wanted to convert those notes into a digital format, you had to type them into your computer. Fortunately, that's not the case anymore. Today's digital pens use smart technology that automatically digitizes whatever you write and stores it or transfers it to a mobile device. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best digital pen on Amazon.

6. Wacom Inkling

Designed with artists in mind, the Wacom Inkling can sense the pressure you apply to the page, allowing you to make lighter or heavier marks along the page as your expression demands. A unique layers button on the receiver allows you to work on top of preserved drawings.
  • saves work in six different formats
  • doubles as a mouse
  • too nuanced for most note takers
Brand Wacom
Model MDP123
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.1 / 5.0

5. Neo N2

The Neo N2 is ideal for international students or anyone fluent in writing more than one language, as it can transcribe 15 different written tongues. It's specifically designed to look sleeker and more like a regular pen than other smartpens, reducing theft risk.
  • auto turns on when you write
  • independently stores 1000 pages
  • unbalanced body design
Brand NeoLab Convergence
Model N2 black
Weight 11.2 ounces
Rating 3.8 / 5.0

4. Equil Smartpen 2 Flight Pack

By utilizing an independent capture device, the Equil Smartpen 2 Flight Pack allows you to use your favorite notebooks in conjunction with its primary implement. Its internal 4 GB of memory lets you work remotely without a smartphone or tablet on hand.
  • case doubles as a charger
  • free app supports live broadcasting
  • erratic pickup behavior
Brand Equil
Model M150A90000005
Weight 12.8 ounces
Rating 4.2 / 5.0

3. 8GB Livescribe Echo

The 8GB Livescribe Echo can capture thousands of pages of notes and up to 800 hours of pen casts with its significant internal memory. You can tap anywhere on your notes to play audio from that moment in your transcription.
  • includes a 100-page notebook
  • easy to set up and begin
  • bulky in the hand
Brand Livescribe
Model APX-00018
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

2. Smarson Digitizer

With the Smarson Digitizer you can capture your writing without any special paper required. The only additional piece of hardware needed is a receiver that clips to the top of your paper or notebook page and reads the position of your pen tip from there.
  • universal writing capability
  • up to 10 hours of write time
  • led battery status indicator
Brand Smarson
Model LYSB01BXLKAIQ-CMPTRACCS
Weight 7.2 ounces
Rating 4.6 / 5.0

1. Livescribe 3 Smartpen Pro

The Livescribe 3 Smartpen Pro comes with a leather portfolio and harbound journal filled with the necessary paper for transcribing your writing into digital information. It also includes a one-year subscription to the company's Evernote Premium software.
  • syncs audio and written notes
  • infrared ink capture
  • mobile app for organization
Brand Livescribe
Model APX-00017
Weight 2.3 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

Putting Pen To Paper

Many of us know what it feels like to write something important down on a piece of paper only to deal with the frustration of losing it five minutes later and looking all over the place to find it again. But what if there was a way to ensure that anything you wrote down could be captured and stored electronically? If that were the case, then your budding student would no longer be able to use the old "dog ate my homework" excuse to get out of an assignment. While that may be a bit of an exaggeration, the idea is a unique segue into a discussion of the digital pen and its usefulness in today's age of technology.

The digital pen is a battery-operated writing or scanning tool capable of electronically capturing and storing handwritten notes, blocks of text, or drawings to upload to a computer. The device is often used in conjunction with interactive paper to create digital handwritten documents that can be edited at a later time. The pen works in a similar fashion to the way an optical mouse functions, but with one key difference. Whereas a mouse tracks individual hand movements by reflecting its bottom-mounted LED off of a desktop, the digital pen tracks similar movements using the same type of light along with invisible patterns of lines on interactive paper.

Most digital pens have a series of components in common that allow them to work. When moved across digital paper, a refill leaves an ink trail in the same way that a conventional pen does on normal paper. This allows you to keep track of what you've already jotted down. However, the computer won't process the ink trail, as it is only for the user's benefit. Other components common to the tool include infrared LEDs and light detectors. These are usually found at the base of the pen. The infrared LED shines onto the digital paper, while the light detector picks up the reflections from that LED coming from the dots or marks on the paper itself. The pen is also equipped with an internal microchip that is used to interpret those reflection patterns in order to store images of the words you write. Some digital pens also feature Bluetooth antennas that transmit your stored data wirelessly to your computer.

Besides giving your kid fewer excuses to get out of doing his homework, the tool is extremely user-friendly. It can be used in much the same way as a conventional pen, but with the added assurance that you'll always have a backup for what you've written. Additionally, it comes in handy when working in extreme environments. If you're outdoors, for example, and in the cold or heat, holding a tablet and stylus would become quite difficult. The digital pen provides a more convenient way to capture and store information using a compact tool without carrying around bulky equipment that is also sensitive to extreme temperatures. Unlike a PC or cell phone, the digital pen also minimizes the number of distractions for the user, keeping them concentrated on the task at hand.

Never Miss A Word Or Mark

While digital pens can function as compact scanners for archival purposes and as tools for helping businesses operate more efficiently through the completion of pre-printed forms, their true versatility is marked by their transcription, recording, and syncing capabilities when used in the classroom.

Consider, for example, a student suffering from dyslexia. A challenge here is that a professor could talk too quickly during a lecture while trying to cover as much material as possible in a short amount of time. This is not purposefully done to be cruel to the student; there is only so much time allotted for discussion of the topic. Things could prove difficult if the student has difficulty jotting things down quickly. The good news for this student, or any student taking notes for that matter, is that the digital pen ensures that you'll miss nothing.

Additionally, the tool helps to organize one's thoughts, even if they have to go back and listen to their professor's lecture several more times. Such smart pens are capable of recording audio and syncing it to everything that has been written. So, if you miss something during your next live biology class, rest assured that you'll be able to go back and review it later by simply playing back the day's notes.

Making sure the pen you choose has both a decent battery life and plenty of internal memory will come in handy, especially if you need to take a lot of notes, but you can't readily get to a computer to transfer them.

Some digital pens also have the capability to transcribe what you write into multiple languages, which can be quite convenient if you're an international student.

Finally, if you consider yourself an artist, look for a digital pen equipped with a pressure-sensitive tip that allows you to make marks on digital paper with varying levels of intensity, depending on what you may want to capture or draw.

A Brief History Of The Digital Pen

The pen has come along away in its history, which dates all the way back to the times of ancient Egypt. Ancient scribes used rudimentary reed pens to write on parchment paper.

Fast forward about 3,000 years, and we'll find that digital pen technology was developed by Swedish inventor Christer Fahraues, original founder and CEO of Anoto Group back in 1996. At the time, Anoto Group was then known as C Technologies and has since grown into a global leader in the digital writing and drawing space. Anoto Group is dedicated to providing user-friendly paperwork solutions to many industries that include healthcare and banking among others.

Since the mid-1990s,` the technology has been internationally-licensed to companies for a variety of purposes, including data and signature capturing, pre-printed form completion, mapping, and even document management.



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Last updated on September 05, 2017 by Daniel Imperiale

Daniel is a writer, actor, and director living in Los Angeles, CA. He spent a large portion of his 20s roaming the country in search of new experiences, taking on odd jobs in the strangest places, studying at incredible schools, and making art with empathy and curiosity.


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