Simply put, it’s the coolest and smartest techno-gadget I’ve ever bought.  Yes, even cooler than the iPhone*!  More importantly, it’s incredibly powerful and useful — the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen.  I bought one in Colorado over the holidays and finally put it through it’s paces this evening.  It exceeded my expectations.

This amazing little gadget works with a specialized notebook to literally capture everything you write in the exact position you write it — a form of geo-location on paper.  Coupled with its ability to audio record and timestamp everything as it records, you’re able to play back audio from any cue point by tapping the pen on some text at which you want the timestamped audio to begin playing.  Exactly!  Start thinking about lectures, meetings, brainstorming sessions, conferences, press events, interviews, etc…

The entire contents of the pen can then be syncronized with your computer — audio and paper complete with everything you wrote and drew on the page.  So, you end up with a recording and a facsimile version of your notes, be they text, charts, graphs and even doodles in the margin.  It gets better.  The desktop software can recognize your handwriting.  Whether you write in block print or cursive, the search function allows you to plain text search your notes.  And, it’s surprisingly accurate, even with messy chicken scratch (though, expect a few false positives).

I used mine in the first lecture of a night class I’m taking this term and I can barely find the words to describe how impressed I am.  But don’t just take my word for it.  The Pulse Smartpen won Best in Show at this year’s MacWorld.

By the way, the pen also doubles as a great portable audio recorder.  I used it to record a presentation I had to give to the class.

This is a product I will totally endorse and pimp!

Thanks to Whitney Hoffman and her LD Podcast interview with Dr. Andy van Schaack, the educational advisor for Livescribe.

* The Livescribe Pulse Smartpen even has some useful applications (e.g. calculator) and some entertainment (e.g. a piano application).  I expect more of this kind of thing will be developed over time.