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Best Smart Pen 2021: The Best Tools To Maximise Productivity 

Updated September 2021
by Kaelyn Chua

Work smarter, not harder. We are surrounded by smart devices designed to make our daily lives easier whether its your smart phone or your smart watch or even your smart home system, it's about time to add a smart pen to the mix.

Smart pens are designed to bridge the gap between the traditional writing implements and modern digital technology. It manages to retain the core experience of physically writing things down whilst leveraging on the portability and accessibility of digital notes. In that sense, it's the perfect balance of old and new designed to give you the best of both worlds.

Best Overall: Livescribe Symphony Smartpen

Best User Experience: Neo Smartpen M1+

Best For Budget: Neo Smartpen Dimo

Best For Style: Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse

Best Alternative: Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook

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Best Overall: Livescribe Symphony Smartpen

Livescribe Symphony Smartpen

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Pros: Best transcription accuracy, Ergonomic design

Cons: Application is not user-friendly, Requires Livescribe notebooks, Transcribes small portions at a time

The Livescribe Symphony Smartpen features an ergonomic design with a solid weight to it in order to store the Livescribe Symphony's sensor. The sensor uses micro-dots on special Livescribe notebooks and Livescribe printable dot paper to track the pen's movements and transcribe whatever you wrote or drew into a digital version stored on your device.

Livescribe Symphony Smartpen

The intuitive Livescribe+ application pairs with the Livescribe Symphony Smartpen to transcibe your writings in real-time, letting you make edits and translate your writing into searchable digital text. The application is also capable of recording real-time audio as a pencast through your phone and syncs it with your writing or drawings.

The Livescribe Symphony Smartpen can store up to 1,200 pages of your notes on the pen's internal storage. but should eventually be offloaded to the Livescribe+ application for easy access. You have the option of storing your notes online on cloud storage providers such as OneNote, Google Drive and Evernote so you can access your notes from any device. The Livescribe Symphony also has an impressive 10 hour battery life making it highly functional and practical.

Livescribe Symphony Smartpen

Overall, the Livescribe Symphony Smartpen is a solid smart pen option with its long battery life, accurate transcriptions, audio recording capabilities as well its reasonable price tag.

The Livescribe Symphony Smartpen comes in Blue/Gold and Black/Gold. Shop the Livescribe Symphony Smartpen here.

Livescribe Symphony Smartpen

Your best smart writing companion

High accuracy and long battery life for an affordable price point.

Best User Experience: Neo Smartpen M1+

Neo Smartpen M1+

Pros: User-friendly application, In-app editing and audio recording, Good notebook selection

Cons: Moderate transcription accuracy

Similar to the Livescribe Symphony Smartpen, the Neo Smartpen M1+ also features an ergonomic round design making it easy and comfortable to write with. The Neo Smartpen has an infrared camera located below the pen tip that helps to capture the pen movement and works with a pressure sensor located at the back of the pen refill. These two sensors work together to understand what you write and how you wrote it.

Neo Smartpen M1+

The Neo Smartpen M1+ is compatible with the N Notebooks, which are specially made with Neo Smartpen's proprietary Ncode. The good news is, Neo offers all sorts of notebooks for you to choose from depending on your preferences, this includes: regular lined or blank notebooks, yearly planners, and even unique notebooks such as a Daily Action Planner.

Each N Notebook page has tiny marks that are uniquely coded for each page and it works together with the Neo Smartpen M1+ to help it identify which notebook you're using, what page number it is, and which part of the paper you're writing on. This information is recorded and stored inside the pen, which can then be synced with the Neo Studio application that is available on iOS, Android and Windows, allowing you to then store digital records across your devices.

Neo Smartpen M1+

The Neo Smartpen M1+ is capable of storing up to 1000 pages of content offline which you can transfer into the Neo Studio App when you go online. When the pen is synced to the App, every stroke you write will be automatically transferred into the digital copy in real-time. Every N Notebook is saved to a separate folder with every page saved as an individual PDF file which can be stored in the Neo Studio App as well as across platforms like Evernote, Adobe, OneNote, or Google Drive.

The Neo Studio app provides multi-language transcription, allowing you to transcribe your handwritten notes in English, Chinese, Japanese or even German into text, which you can then easily share with others or copy/paste it onto mediums you require.

Neo Smartpen M1+

In the Neo Studio App, you are given basic editing tools that allow you to highlight text, change the colour of text, change your text brushstroke, and add more notes to the text with your finger or a stylus. An eraser tool is also available for you to delete unnecessary text that you wish to remove from your digital copy, which is really handy in helping you clean your notes up before sharing it with others.

Once transcribed, the Neo Studio App allows you to search for information and easily retrieve what you need in a snap. You can also tag N Notebook pages with keywords that will be beneficial for organising your notes. The app also comes with a playback function that allows you to watch how your page came to live as you added notes to the page, you can even add voice notes to pages for extra information.

Neo Smartpen M1+

If you're concerned about the pen refill, just now that the Neo Smartpen M1+ uses a universal D1-sized refill that you can easily buy from most stationery stores or online shops in different colours and point widths. The refills are also extremely easy to remove and install, all you do is grab the pen tip, pull it out, and insert a brand new refill.

Overall, the Neo Smartpen M1+ provides the best user experience with it's user-friendly Neo Studio application, good selection of notebooks available as well as it's refill accessibility. The battery lasts 3x longer than it did on the previous Neo Smartpen M1 version and it truly feels like you're writing with a regular pen as it automatically turns on and off when the cap is removed and capped on.

The Neo Smartpen M1+ comes in 3 colours: chic monotone black, trendy grey, and stylish navy. You can find out more about the Neo Smartpen M1+ here and purchase it here

Neo Smartpe M1+

Best digital writing experience

Easily save, share, search and edit your notes in real-time.

Best For Budget: Neo Smartpen Dimo

Neo Smartpen Dimo

Pros: Affordable, User-friendly application, In-app editing and audio recording, Great notebook selection

Cons: Moderate transcription accuracy, Uses AAA alkaline batteries, Low offline storage

Compared to the Neo Smartpen M1+, the Neo Smartpen Dimo has a slightly bulkier build mainly to accommodate the replaceable AAA alkaline battery fit inside. The Dimo battery lasts a month when the pen is used for an hour a day, after which you can simply pop in another AAA battery to power it up.

Neo Smartpen Dimo

Similar to the Neo Smartpen M1+, the Neo Smartpen Dimo has an internal camera that captures your handwritten texts and converts them to digital documents when the pen syncs with Neo Studio app. However, the Dimo has 2MB (saves up to 3 sheets of A4 size) of internal storage for offline use as compared to the 1000+ page storage available in the M1+. While this limits the amount of offline handwriting data you can transfer into the Neo Studio application, you can easily overcome this by syncing the Dimo up with the Neo Studio application while in use.

One thing to note is that the Neo Smartpen Dimo does not sync with Google Calendar, ical and outlook — a feature only available on the Neo Smartpen M1+. The Neo Smartpen Dimo also uses a Standard D1-Type pen tip which you can easily replace with D1 refills found in your local stationery shop.

Neo Smartpen Dimo

Overall, it's a pretty sweet deal with an even sweeter price point. Although it may be limited in offline storage and syncing abilities as compared to the more expensive Neo Smartpen M1+, you'll still have access to the same user-friendly Neo Studio application. So if you want a smart pen thats cheap but reputable, the Neo Smartpen Dimo is definitely what you're looking for.

The Neo Smartpen Dimo comes in 2 colours: Chic Black and Sweet Pink. Shop the Neo Smartpen Dimo here

Neo Smartpen Dimo
Neo Smartpen Dimo
Neo Smartpen Dimo
Neo Smartpen Dimo
Neo Smartpen Dimo
Neo Smartpen Dimo

Neo Smartpen Dimo

$79.00

Your First Smartpen

  • Keep all your precious records on paper digitally
  • Easily search for what you need
  • Never lose your notes again
  • Send and share your notes instantly

Digital Convenience of Analog Writing
The digital pen is equipped with an optical sensor, and each sheet of N Notebooks has unique Ncode symbols that only the Neo Smartpen recognises. Dimo's sensor reads the barely-visible codes and captures the strokes you've written on the Ncoded pages, then saves them digitally. Everything you write or draw is automatically digitised into your device when you go online into the companion app.

Good Design
The compact and round design of the Neo Smartpen Dimo allows a comfortable writing experience with its ergonomic grip. It uses a Standard D1-Type pen tip, and you can always replace it with D1 refills. The battery can last for up to a month if the pen is used for an hour daily and the battery replacement is made easy and intuitive with a removable battery cap.

A Functional Companion App
The Neo Notes app allows you to convert analog writing into text through transcription with the support of up to 15 languages. You can search, edit, share, backup, autosave, tag, and use calendar view and handwriting recognition features within the app. You can also record lectures using the app with your smart device's microphone while writing, and even playback the voice recording since it's integrated with the handwriting.

View Details

Neo Smartpen Dimo

Your first smartpen

Your first smart writing companion to help easily digitalise your work for better productivity.

Best For Style: Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse

Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse

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Pros: Editing tools for text and drawing, Audio recording, Good quality notebooks

Cons: Short battery life, Expensive

Moleskine is renowned for its trademark high quality notebooks, hence the Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse sure makes for a stylish addition to your arsenal. The Ellipse is sturdy and has everything you need in a smart pen including page detection, audio recordings, in-app editing functions, accurate transcription as well as searchable text.

Moleskine has a great selection of notebooks including a notebook that will sync your illustrations directly into Adobe Creative Cloud and a planner that syncs with online calendars like Google Calendar. The Moleskine Notes App was originally built off the Neo Notes application, however Moleskine reportedly has plans to upgrade it soon.

Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse

For it's high cost, the Moleskin Pen+ Ellipse has a relatively short 5 hour battery life and although the pen automatically powers off after 20 minutes, it's recommended to manually turn it off when not in use to conserve the battery.

Furthermore, the Moleskin Pen+ Ellipse only works with compatible Moleskine notebooks, meaning you'll have to purchase the pricey notebooks regularly. If you're into the aesthetics, the Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse may be worth the premium. However, if you're strapped for cash you might want to consider a different option. You can shop the Moleskin Pen+ Ellipse here

Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse

Style and function in a powerful combination

A premium option for your next smart pen.

Best Alternative: Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook

Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook

Featured In

Pros: Reusable Paper, Erasable pen, Colourful pen colour selection

Cons: Poor text transcription, Pen easily smudges, Hard to erase

The Rocketbook Smart Notebook and Pen doesn't make use of paper, instead it features plastic paper that acts as a whiteboard. Instead of a smart pen, the Rocketbook makes use of a Frixion pen to write on the pages.

Each page features a small QR code on the bottom right which the application scans to save each page in the app. The Rocketbook application includes an Optical Character Recognition feature to convert writing into text, although not as accurate as the transcription feature available on the Neo Smartpen M1+ and the Livescribe Symphony Smart Pen.

Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook

The Frixion pen ink takes about 15 seconds to dry making it easy to smudge when writing. The Rocketbook's plastic pages do not feel flimsy, rather they are quite sturdy and durable. However, the ink may stain if left on the page for too long. A bonus is that you can purchase pen refills from virtually any stationery shop since the Rocketbook makes use of Frixion pens.

Given the extremely affordable price of the Rocketbook Smart Notebook and Pen, it's definitely the most budget friendly option. Despite it's relatively limited feature range, it makes for a great reusable product that covers the basic function of a smart pen — converting written notes into digital ones. You can shop the Rocketbook Smart Notebook and Pen here.

Rocketbook Smart Reusable Notebook

A good alternative to traditional smart pens

A budget-friendly and beginner-friendly option. 

Final Thoughts

A smart pen is certainly a good investment for those interested in further digitalising their life whilst retaining the authentic writing experience. Whether you plan to purchase one for writing or for drawing, there are plenty of options at varying price points available to you.

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