DIY

Moleskine's New Smart Pen Is Actually Pretty Genius

It digitizes your notes *as you write them*.

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But remember, it's a *smart* pen — and it can digitize your notes as 👏 you 👏 write 👏 them.

Technically, the pens are made by Neo (the company, not the hacker of The Matrix franchise) and branded with the Moleskine logo.

The pen works with the Moleskine Notes iOS app (no Android version for now, which, I know, is so lame) and a notebook with special encoded paper.

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There's a small infrared camera on the tip of the pen that's constantly capturing what you write. You can watch your handwriting on your phone in real time, which is a bizarrely magical experience.

The pen is encased in black matte aluminum that looks good, and feels good too. It's light, beautiful, and triangular-shaped, which makes it super comfortable to hold.

The Moleskine app can access your smartphone's microphone to record audio and play back your synced notes with your recording.

The app, however, won't let you record from an earbud or third-party Bluetooth mic for better audio quality.

You can pick different colors and adjust the pen's weight on the app.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

The app also features Evernote and Google Drive sync, handwriting-to-text, note search, and playback (so you can watch the progression of your brainstorm session).

The whole system is pretty amazing for digitizing notes — but has some serious flaws.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

First of all, the pages bizarrely jut out of the notebook (it was designed that way — ON PURPOSE). Knowing the way I handle my current journal, I'd put a dent right through those edges.

Secondly, it's $200 for the set: the notebook, the smartpen, and an ink refill. Pretty steep for a note-taking setup, but on par with some of the other options out there, like the Livescribe 3 ($119), which I've used and loved.

Thirdly, like the aforementioned Livescribe 3, it requires its own special encoded paper.

Nicole Nguyen / BuzzFeed

A major advantage of the Moleskine set is that the notebook comes in a familiar leather-bound Moleskine form factor with the signature built-in folder on the back cover, except it has special paper with a tiny dot pattern printed on its surface.

And finally, the pen's battery lasts 125 hours on standby and five hours of continuous use (Livescribe 3 claims 14 hours). If you're in back-to-back lectures all day, five hours might not be enough.

That being said: It's a neat way to bring the flexibility of analog and the convenience of digital together.

There are definitely benefits to writing notes — and backing them up! A study has shown that taking notes by hand can mean better long-term comprehension versus typing on a laptop.

Since Moleskine's smartpen is both an actual pen and can digitize your notes (plus turn them into editable text!), it may be the best of both worlds.