Best Digital Pens in the UK

Review & Comparison, Last Update September 13, 2017
Nowadays, people have a lot of digital gadgets but they still make notes using a common pen and paper which may be easily lost. Our review offers a list of most popular digital pens to back up your notes. These pens are handy and extremely convenient! ...Read more ...Read less
BEST 2017
PROS
CONS
OUR VERDICT
CONNECTIVITY
OPERATING SYSTEM
PAPER
EXTRA
BATTERY
 
PROS
96x18 OLED display shows functions and time; there is a built-in speaker for audio signals and a rubberized grip for your convenience.
CONS
No carrying case.
OUR VERDICT
This digital pen model is your best hit for fast text capturing, and the built-in recorder will allow sound accompaniment for the script.
detailed parameters
CONNECTIVITY
microUSB
OPERATING SYSTEM
Mac OS X version 10.8.5 or newer,

Windows 7 / 8 or newer

PAPER
Special paper up to A4
EXTRA
8GB flash storage, ARM 9 processor, Piano app support, Language change
BATTERY
N/A
PROS
This Neo smartpen has aluminium casing and it is 11.5 mm thick making it very comfortable to hold. Features Adobe Creative Suite and Dropbox support.
CONS
Operation time on one charge might be too short for some users.
OUR VERDICT
The model offers a variety of useful features, and one of the most helpful among them is the support of 15 languages. The best option for students.
detailed parameters
CONNECTIVITY
microUSB, Bluetooth 4.0
OPERATING SYSTEM
Android Jelly Bean 4.1.2 or newer,

iOS 8.1 or newer (iPhone 5 or newer)

PAPER
Special paper up to A4
EXTRA
Stores up to 1000 A4 pages, ARM 9 processor, Auto on/off, Calendar view, My Library feature
BATTERY
Continous: 5 hours, Normal use: 3 days, Standby: 125 days
PROS
Smartpen feels like a premium-level ballpen. Among extra features, there is a mic to record audio and sync it with text, and a protection cap for the tip.
CONS
Online recording stops if you get a call and needs to be restarted.
OUR VERDICT
Livescribe 3 smartpen wirelessly transfers data directly to your smartphone or tablet so that you could edit it using the smartpen as a stylus.
detailed parameters
CONNECTIVITY
Bluetooth 4.0
OPERATING SYSTEM
iOS 8 or newer,

Android KitKat (v4.4.2) or newer

PAPER
Special paper up to A4
EXTRA
Free Livescribe+ app, Stylus use, Bluetooth Smart technology
BATTERY
Up to 14 hours
PROS
If the Apple Pencil uses up all the charge, a 15-second recharging from your iPad Pro grants you 30 more minutes of operation.
CONS
Works with Apple devices only.
OUR VERDICT
Apple Pencil is a really precise smart pen for iPad that will be of great use to artists, even those drawing the traditional way. A really convenient solution.
detailed parameters
CONNECTIVITY
Bluetooth
OPERATING SYSTEM
iOS
PAPER
Works on displays as a stylus
EXTRA
Two built-in tilt sensors, Lightning-fast response time, Signal scanning at 240 times per second
BATTERY
12 hours
PROS
Livescribe plan for Evernote includes additional 500MB of monthly upload space for smartpen notes and audio.
CONS
No support for Wi-Fi hotspots that require username and password.
OUR VERDICT
The smart pen sync to Evernote via Wi-Fi is immediate, so all your valuable data will be safely stored in mere seconds.
detailed parameters
CONNECTIVITY
microUSB, Wi-Fi
OPERATING SYSTEM
Windows, Mac OS X, iOS, Android
PAPER
Special paper up to A4
EXTRA
4GB internal storage, ARM 9 processor
BATTERY
N/A

What is a Digital Pen

A digital pen is a gadget, using which you can write texts, draw sketches, sometimes record voice messages, and keep all this information on output devices with an option to copy it to other gadgets such as smartphones or tablets. After data digitising, it can be sent to your computer for further editing. Some digital pens are designed to work in a wireless mode so that the written information could be exchanged in a real time. Even if a pen doesn't support a wireless connection, it still has a storage from where the data can be moved between computers and gadgets.

If you are used to working with graphic tablets, we recommend you to have a look at stylus pens which will help improve the accuracy of inserted data and make a working process much more comfortable.

What Features to Compare

Compatibility
If you plan to buy a digital pen, first things first, consider whether the model is compatible with your operating system. Some pens are compatible with tablets and smartphones while others can work with laptops and PCs. These are the key aspects of being aware of and find a pen to meet your daily needs. A universal digital pen compatible with tablets and PCs is an ideal option for graphic designers who work on screens of different sizes. To pair a pen with a gadget, you can use either a USB cable or Bluetooth. Most digital pens have internal storage too, thereby giving you an option to access the recorded data later on. A lot of smartpens can be used with a special dot type of paper only. At the same time, some other pens are compatible with all paper types. If you don't want to be limited in options, the latter is for you.

Additional Features
Except for pen's key functions, make sure to check on extra features that add to its performance and ease of use.

  • Popular graphic editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator CS3, which are considered to be multifunctional and highly effective, will help you make almost any change you need.
  • Some smartpens can create images with layers. This feature will come in handy for designers who often need to draw and work on the go.
  • There are also universal pens that can be used as styluses too. Such pens have a special cap on the top compatible with sensor displays.
  • To be able to store your notes, texts, and sketches, almost every digital pen has internal memory which is usually equivalent to several GBs. As a rule, such amount of storage is enough to store up to a few hundred sheets of texts and sketches.
  • If you make notes every day, you can use the Evernote app in order not to forget about the most important things.
  • Consider a battery life too, for it determines the duration of a pen's working time; generally, it varies from 5 to 30 hours.
What Is in a Set
Surely, having a pen isn't enough for proper work. That's why most manufacturers of smart pens supply their products with different accessories to ensure maximum comfort during use. The pen usually comes with a manual for you to quickly learn its functions. Most pens are shipped with additional refill cartridges so that a user has a spare one at hand to refill the pen on time (when used frequently). Digital pens come packed with USB cables and transportation cases. If you want to save and extend the life of your pen, carrying it in a case is important. And convenient too.

Livescribe Echo Pro Edition

Save It All

In the days of smartphones and digital organisers, a person with a pen and a notebook might look like a guest from the no-so-far past but the appeal of these tools is still there for many of us. Some people simply write faster than type, and there are still artists among us who prefer to work traditionally. Nevertheless, in a digital age, all we do better be backed up. And this is what the Livescribe Echo Pro Smart Pen is created to do. When you write down some information or make a drawing with this digital pen in a special dot paper notebook, it is saved in the pen's memory. You can transfer the data to your smartphone, tablet, or computer when you need and it (1) will not be lost, and (2) can be quickly digitised and posted online or sent via email. The storage space is 8GB, more than enough for a lot of info. The Livescribe Echo smartpen can also record sound with a built-in mic so you can double the data you write with a sound (there is even a 3.5mm jack for earbuds to listen to what was recorded). Convenient and functional, this digital pen can become an irreplaceable assistant to businesspersons and students.
Review of Livescribe Echo Pro Edition

Additional Info

User Manual     Manufacturer


Livescribe Echo Pro Edition
Livescribe Echo Pro Edition
 

NeoLab N2

Reliable Assistant

One of the notable things about this NeoLab N2 smartpen is that it looks and feels no different than your average pen, a very convenient compact digital pen you can put in your pocket. At the same time, it has a durable aluminium casing, so even if you accidentally drop it there is a good chance it will stay perfectly operational.
To transfer the notes or images you make to your smartphone in the finest details, you will need a special N-notebook and an app available for iOS and Android. Note that the notebook syncs with the app, meaning each page corresponds to an image file, so if you draw on the sheet that already has something written on it the new image will be overlapping with the old one probably making a mess.
As for the operation time, the built-in battery will allow you up to 5 continuous hours of writing and drawing (depending on the intensity) after which you will need to let the Neo smartpen recharge for approximately 2 hours.
Images can take quite some space and if you happen to make a lot of photos on your smartphone and the storage memory is running out we suggest you pick a microSD card.
Review of NeoLab N2

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


NeoLab N2
NeoLab N2
 

Livescribe 3 APX-00020 Black Edition

Two-in-One

It is probably a long shot to assume that literally every person has a touch screen device in possession but to say that many people do is a fairly justified guess in our opinion. Smartphones and tablets are quite widespread today, after all. Anyway, a lot of those gadgets allow using not only your fingers but also a special stylus pen to manipulate the processes. Here we would like to introduce to you the Livescribe 3 smartpen that can be both a digital pen and a stylus. Just turn it upside down, the cap that hides the microUSB port can actually be used as a stylus. Nice, isn't it?
Another great thing about the Livescribe 3 is that it works for 14 hours without recharging! Moreover, if you lose the track of time, the pen will notify you 15 minutes before it dies—you'll see the indicator blinking yellow light. That's the sign the smartpen needs charging, and this can be done from a laptop or a power bank, whichever is close at hand. The notes made by the digital pen can be further digitised and sent via email or simply stored. We assure you, as soon as you get used to the shape of this Livescribe smartpen you will never want to get back to the ordinary ball pen.
Review of Livescribe 3 APX-00020 Black Edition

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


Livescribe 3 APX-00020 Black Edition
Livescribe 3 APX-00020 Black Edition
 

Apple Pencil

Innovative Solution to the Old Problem

Some iPad apps require precision that can't be achieved with your fingers only. The latest solution to this problem is an Apple Pencil, a unique smartpen-stylus that will help you reach unimaginable accuracy with any Apple Multi-Touch gadget. Tiny body hides an advanced complicated system of sensors that assess the pressure you apply to the pen and change the lines' thickness accordingly; two sensors on the tip determine the tilt, a useful feature for shading and colouring in drawing apps. At a certain angle, you can colour larger zones with fewer moves, and if your hand gets sore you can put it on the screen for convenience — the unique stylus recognition technology will block the display for any touch that is not coming from the Apple Pencil. Now you can draw easier and faster. The results someone might obtain on a professional-grade drawing tablet, now available with just a pen to add to your iPad. Add here the opportunity to get better results at games and make notes with swift moves. The Apple Pencil is a perfect addition to any Apple gadget.
Review of Apple Pencil

Additional Info

    Manufacturer


Apple Pencil
Apple Pencil
 

Livescribe 4GB Wifi Smart Pen

In a Blink of an Eye

This Livescribe smartpen model is similar to the Echo Pro one but with several distinctive features. Firstly, this pen has a Wi-Fi module that will make transferring the data to your laptop or smartphone faster and easier, no cables necessary, via the Internet connection. Although, the cable transfer is of course still available if there is no Wi-Fi available. The second difference is that here you will have 4GB of internal storage instead of 8GB in Echo Pro. But before you decide which one you want, note that with this model, you will also receive 500MB of additional storage on your Evernote account monthly! If you use this particular app for your notes and data, maybe you will find such addition valuable. To set apart Livescribe 4GB Wi-Fi Smart Pen and Livescribe Echo Pro visually, here is a tip: Echo smartpen is black whereas Wi-Fi model has silver-coloured parts. The option to transfer data in a variety of ways makes this Livescribe digital pen a very useful device for everyday use at home or in the office, at business meetings. If you wish to buy this model but feel like your Wi-Fi connection is lacking, consider also a Wi-Fi extender.
Review of Livescribe 4GB Wifi Smart Pen

Livescribe 4GB Wifi Smart Pen
Livescribe 4GB Wifi Smart Pen
 

Sources:

1. Chris Woodford, How Do Digital Pens Work? Explain that Stuff. September 11, 2016.

2. Digital pens, University of Bristol.

3. How do I Choose the Best Digital Pen? wiseGEEK.

4. Margaret Rouse digital pen, TechTarget.

5. Jessica Draws 10 Things No Graphic Designer Should be Without, Creative Bloq. March 11, 2016.

6. Digital Pen, Wikipedia.

7. Rhodri Marsden Can a new generation of digital pens win over a dedicated rollerball user? The Independent.

Other reviews