"Outstanding for a particular audience. Geeky fun, too."4.5 starson by tozoa
Pros: Delivers on utility and ease of use promises, including desktop software and sharing. Surprisingly good audio quality from afar. Helpful video tutorials. Perfect for sharing of notes between educators, students, and probably journalists.
Cons: Tips easy to lose, audio can pick up the pen scratching on the page, printing proprietary dot paper only via Windows for now, slim pickings in the app store.
Summary: Donald Bell's review is the most comprehensive and accurate so far. (I wish it had existed before I bought mine two weeks ago.) I echo his pros and cons. Do not underestimate the geeky fun factor of this device. Tapping on a word or graphic (such as a frowny face) takes the audio back to whatever was recorded at the time it was written (such as a string of boring statistics).
As a teacher, I regularly take notes in class projecting with a document camera. I plan to make my "pencasts" available to students who miss the lecture or discussion, or who need the multiple modes of input for complete learning, especially my English learners.
PROS: Installation was slightly frustrating, but I attribute that to release day glitches. Overall the software is easy to use, including the syncing, storage and sharing features on the website. There are many useful (albeit dry) video demos of the features and available apps.
CONS: I concur that the pen cover is easy to lose (there's a reason they ship it with two!). and that the supplied charger connects only to a computer, but that's easy to remedy. Also, I decided to spring for the proprietary earbuds/mic combo for true stereo sound recording. It helps to minimize recording the pen scratching on the paper, too.
The special dot paper is slightly pricey, but not a dealbreaker. Users can print it themselves, but only via Windows at this time. As a hoarder of pretty notebooks, I foresee them gathering dust as I shift to using the Echo for almost everything.
The review does not address the apps, though, which have potential, especially for students. I've enjoyed Piano and Hangman, plus the demo Language Translator. I can imagine some killer features once the apps mature. Also, a logical follow-up is a feature to translate handwriting to type. Right now that's available through a third-party program called MyScript, which I have not tried. (I had problems installing the demo, which does not bode well.) Finally, I crave an easy way to transfer my notes and pencasts to Evernote. I'm sure it will happen sooner rather than later.
OVERALL: I love this product and will recommend it to my students. Users should be reminded to request permission to record audio in appropriate circumstances. Clandestine recording is possible since the pen is pretty unobtrusive, but may not be exactly always legal ;)