"Bottom Line: great idea, poor execution."0.5 starson by crp2011
Pros: Records your handwriting digitally.
Cons: Limited customer support resources
Ink quality low, cost high
Shouldn't record and write at same time
Paper recording affected by writing style
Consumables getting harder to locate in retail market
Firmware and Software Updates Can Be Buggy
Summary: Bottom Line: great idea, poor execution. If you're an early adapter, purchase one; otherwise wait for the 3rd generation pen when many of the design flaws get worked out.
I press hard and so I tend to distort the dots on the paper — so much so that recording of my handwriting on the overleaf gets distorted as well — rendering the recordings unintelligible. Workaround: write on one side of page.
I write big, but letters that "cross-the-line" are not always recorded, rendering letters unintelligible. Workaround: write double spaced.
Net effect of workarounds: quadrupled paper costs.
This is a sore point for many users. While I'm no aficionado of writing per se, many of Livescribe customers are and they dislike the ink. My main beef is that the ink runs out early on some cartridges — usually I get about 25 pages of writing per cartridge. Since I press hard anyway I am not affected by the uneven ink flow.
When recording sound, voices are droned out by the sound of the pen recording. The microphone is too close to the pen tip. The sound recorded by the pen tip on paper is extremely irritating — think of nails on blackboard. Workaround: when recording sound, do not write. I record business meetings and then later transcribe them.
Posts raised in their support forum can go unanswered for over a week. When Livescribe does respond, it was to give stock answers from the FAQ for the most part — seldom would they actually answer the question I asked. I eventually "got the message" and stopped posting altogether.
I had to replace my pen — it was a long, complicated process that took upwards of a month to complete. In the end, I am still not sure if I sent a new or refurbished pen because this week my replacement pen failed. Talk of a consistent customer experience — I reliving the unpleasantness of the first replacement process all over again.
Firmware and Software Releases Buggy and/or Brick Device
There is a complex interplay of paper, ink, sound and software going on in the pen. It is difficult for Livescribe with their current resources to properly test firmware and software releases. The most recent firmware release, for example, is suspected of bricking some susceptible pens — a fact that was only uncovered by a raft of unfortunate pen owners after they installed the firmware upgrade.
Unfocused, Ever-Changing Product Development
Livescribe had encouraged 3rd parties to create pen apps, but Livescribe shut down the program this year — without prior notice, of course.
Livescribe used to have a SDK so people could create their own paper designs, but Livescribe shut down the program this year — without prior notice, of course.
Result: no new pen apps or paper layouts from the user community or 3rd parties.
Variable Supply of Consumables in Retail Market
A recent development, some retailers are discontinuing stocking of Livescribe products, or decreasing their stock, or limiting the variety of products they carry. I find this extremely worrisome for if I cannot purchase ink & paper, the pen becomes useless. I hope Livescribe sales stay high enough so that the user base has access to the consumables required for this product.