Good pens mix conventional writing implements with fashionable digital know-how. The result’s a pen that helps seize what you’ve written in digital type, turning what’s historically a messy analog medium into organized, structured knowledge which you could maintain perpetually. Some good pens document what you’re writing utilizing tech within the pen itself; others depend on particular paper, your pill, or your smartphone to seize the knowledge.

As a result of there are such a lot of choices – and since they work fairly in another way from each other – chances are you’ll want a information to the precise good pen or stylus for you. Relying upon your note-taking or sketching wants, you may want one thing just like the Livescribe, which has a built-in audio recorder, or a Rocketbook with a Frixion pen which is tremendous cheap, however targeted on capturing photos of your notes. We’ve rounded up the very best good pens and styluses on your studying pleasure. And on the finish of the article, you’ll additionally discover a shopping for information that highlights crucial standards to search for when searching for good pens and styluses

TL;DR – These are the Finest Good Pens

1. Livescribe Symphony

Finest Good Pen

Compatibility: Home windows, Mac, iOS, Android ● Battery Life: 90 days (standby) ● Max Pages: 1,200 ● Paper: Livescribe Dot Paper ● Audio Recording: Sure (by app)

If you wish to go about your note-taking on paper like regular whereas nonetheless having fun with the digital backups that come from a wise pen, then the Livescribe Symphony is the place it’s at. This premium, good pen gives up an ink pen expertise so that you can write on Livescribe’s particular dot paper, whereas the digitizer data your handwriting and transfers it to the Livescribe+ app in your smartphone, pill, or pc.

As soon as your notes are transformed right into a digital format, it’s simple to transform them to PDFs, photos, and even searchable textual content paperwork with recognition for as much as 28 languages. You may share your notes or again them as much as the cloud simply as merely. The Livescribe Symphony paired with the Livescribe+ app may even allow you to transcend simply writing and drawing, as you’ll be able to create audio recordings that can sync along with your handwritten notes, providing you with extra element or context on your notes. With 90 days of standby battery life, you shouldn’t want to switch the battery too usually both. And, in the event you’re taking notes away out of your cellphone or pc, the pen itself can retailer as much as 1,200 pages of notes on inside storage to sync later.

2. Rocketbook Core

Finest Erasable Good Pen

Compatibility: iOS, Android ● Max Pages: 32 (reusable) ● Audio Recording: No ● Paper: Rocketbook Paper

Some smart pens are all about the pen’s onboard technology, others rely on both a smart pen and special paper. The Rocketbook Core takes a much simpler approach that can not only save you a bunch of money upfront but also save you in the long run. The Rocketbook Core uses a special paper and simple Frixion pens, and it costs a little over $20 or $30 depending on which version you get. To get digital versions of your notes, you just scan the page in the notebook with your iPhone or Android smartphone and they’ll be converted into a note document.

The Rocketbook Core will let you take notes with a variety of Frixion pens, so you can add a splash of color to your notes. Once you’ve made a digital copy of your notes, the Rocketbook Core’s special trick comes into play. All you need to do is take a damp cloth (the kit includes a microfiber cloth) and wipe down the pages. This will erase the ink from the Frixion pens, giving you a clean slate. With the page cleared, you can keep using the notebook to take even more notes and digitize them as well. There are no batteries to charge or new pages needed – you’ll just need new erasable Frixion pens once in a while, and those only cost about $2 apiece.

3. Wacom Bamboo Ink 2nd Gen

Best Smart Pen for Windows

Compatibility: Windows, LG Velvet, LG V60 ● Battery: 1 x AAAA

If you’ve picked up a Windows tablet or 2-in-1 laptop and want a stylus you can use to take detailed notes on it with, then the Wacom Bamboo Ink 2nd Gen is what you should be looking for – just double check that it’ll work with your device (see compatibility here). On devices that support the Microsoft Pen Protocol, it should work instantly without any tedious pairing. And, it can work with devices that support the Wacom Active ES Protocol as well, like the LG Velvet and LG V60 smartphones.

This stylus is very much on the affordable side at just $50, yet has a stylish, aluminum design that includes a clip to help you keep it attached to your bag or carrying case. The stylus includes two buttons on the side that’ll be within easy reach of your fingers for quick access to a right-click or an eraser. The stylus also supports 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity so you can draw with fine detail in case your notes need a little visual aid here and there.

4. Neo Smartpen N2

Best Smart Pen for Microdot Paper

Neo Smartpen N2

Compatibility: Windows, iOS, Android ● Storage: 90MB ● Battery Life: 5 hours ● Max Pages: 1,000 ● Audio Recording: Yes (through smartphone app) ● Paper: Ncoded Paper

The concept behind the Neo Smartpen N2 should be familiar to anyone who has used a smart pen before. The pen itself has all the brains, which includes a battery, camera, and processor. You need to use the N2 with special micro dotted paper, and on that front the selection is huge – perhaps the largest of any smart pen. You can choose from among memo books, pocket-sized mini books, planners, spiral-ring notebooks, and many other options.

The pen uses standard D-1 type pen tips, which means you can replace the ink with any standard refill so you’re not tied to refills supplied only by Neo. It contains 90MB of storage, which means you can take extensive notes without synchronizing it with your mobile device and not worry about running out of memory. Yes, other pens have more memory – like the 2GB Livescribe Echo – but a lot of that storage is committed to audio. The N2 captures text only.

When you sync the pen with your mobile device, your notes and sketches are stored in the Neo mobile app, and you can also share the files with cloud services like Evernote, One Note and Google Drive.

5. Apple Pencil (2nd Generation)

Best Smart Pen for iPad

Compatibility: iOS ● Battery Life: 12 hours ● Audio Recordings: No ● Paper: iPad

The Apple Pencil isn’t your ordinary smart pen; it’s a stylus that turns an iPad into a device that you can write and draw on. Apple has created an almost Microsoft-level amount of confusion around the Pencil by giving two different products – the Apple Pencil and Apple Pencil (2nd Generation) — the same name, barely even distinguishing them on the website, despite the fact that they’re incompatible with one another.

The 2nd Generation pencil works with the latest iPads (the 12.9-inch and 11-inch models) and is a refined, powerful tool for writing and drawing. It is finished in matte white and is flat on one side, which prevents it from rolling around. There’s no Lightning port for charging; its battery charges when it’s attached to the iPad (which it does magnetically).

Like many of the other smart pens in this list, the Apple Pencil lets you write and sketch – though only on compatible iPads. There are a wide variety of apps that work with the Pencil; you can take handwritten notes, mark-up documents, and even edit photos. The downside? It’s a single-use accessory that is designed exclusively for your iPad.

6. Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse

Best Smart Pen for Sketching

Compatibility: Android, iOS, Windows ● Paper: Moleskine Smart Notebooks

Who said you had to use a smart pen just for notes? The Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse works just as well for notes as it does for doodles. You can sketch away in your Moleskin Smart Notebook while using the Pen+ Ellipse, and the pen will transfer it all in real time to your Android, iOS, or Windows device.

The Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse comes with the pen itself, which features a replaceable ink tip, as well as a notebook to get you started. The pen features a rechargeable battery, so you don’t have to fiddle around with opening it up. And, the device is capable of audio recordings in case you want to make some mental notes while you’re sketching.

7. SyncPen 2nd Generation Smart Pen

Best Hybrid Smart Pen

The SyncPen 2nd Generation smart pen takes the capabilities of a lot of its competitors and pairs it all with a handy, 10-inch LCD pad. In effect, you take notes as you would normally, but you’ll never have to use any paper. The LCD pad will display what you’re writing or drawing, and it features the micro dots required for the pen to track, but the LCD display can be erased instantly to start on your next set of notes. But, if you prefer paper, the SyncPen 2nd Generation also supports micro dot paper (which you can print yourself after you use the included notebook) and includes refills for both ink and the plastic tip used with the LCD pad.

The SyncPen will pair with your iOS or Android device over a Bluetooth connection to let you see the copies of your notes. The LCD pad even allows you to control the color you’re taking notes in, so you can create more complex notes using color to highlight details or differentiate certain elements. You can convert your written notes into digital text and export in various file formats, and you also get the option to record audio with your notes.

What to Look for in a Smart Pen

Smart pens and styluses are fairly niche products – and probably always will be. For many people, a stylus like the Apple Pencil is just one more thing to lose, which is why a lot of people don’t want to carry it around. And when it comes to the other smart pens, the thought of using technology to write notes that’ll sync with a PC can seem needlessly complicated – even if it’s not. The real trick, then, is finding a solution that’s as straightforward and uncomplicated as possible, while at the same time solving the most problems along the way.

To that end, it’s helpful to understand what problems you’re solving. Presumably, you need to capture text and images to a phone or PC. But how easy does the device make it to get your notes to the cloud, or to share it with others? Does it sync automatically, or do you need to do it manually? And if so, is there sufficient memory, or will you need to worry about syncing the pen too often?

If you don’t want to sync often, look for a pen that has a lot of memory; the Livescribe models have generally large amounts of storage, while the Wacom Bamboo Folio will run out of space quickly. And if you’re comfortable syncing pages manually, consider the Rocketbook.

Most smart pens have special features that distinguish them from similar models. Some can record audio, for example, and store it on the pen itself. That’s convenient, but it can also exhaust the pen’s memory, so other pens do the same thing by connecting to your phone, relying on both the phone’s microphone and storage.

Lastly, think about how you like to work, and what kind of smart pen suits your workflow. Are you okay with the danger of running out of specialized paper, which may smart pens rely on? If not, consider a pen that can use plain paper (like Wacom), or reusable, erasable paper (like Rocketbook).

Dave Johnson has been writing about gaming and tech since the days of the Palm Pilot. See him shout into the Twitter void @davejoh

By tracy