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While writing by hand is undoubtedly more time-consuming than typing, there are a lot of benefits to using a pen and paper that typing just can’t replicate. Studies have shown that writing by hand can help improve retention of information, and writing can be a relaxing activity for many people. But just because writing notes by hand is an analog activity, that doesn’t mean it can’t be high tech. You can write by hand while still enjoying the benefits that digital notetaking provides. The key is to invest in a smart pen.
“Smart pen” is a broad, if slightly confusing term, because it can refer to a wide array of devices. Some smart pens put ink on paper, just like a run-of-the-mill Bic. The difference with these is that they use a variety of sensors to trace your movements, transferring what you draw or write to a page on your computer. Moleskine makes pens like this. Then there are smart pens that function as styluses for devices like tablets.
Modern stylus pens are designed to be far more sensitive than the kind of stylus you might associate with PalmPilot PDAs, allowing you to write out fine notes or create detailed drawings. If you’re a graphic designer, you might want a drawing tablet with a compatible pen. Unlike touchscreen tablets, a drawing tablet basically looks like a large trackpad that transfers your illustration to your screen, be it a tablet or laptop.
While all of these pens work differently, they all have several major benefits in common. They allow you to write manually while connecting to a smart device, making it easier to organize your notes. And, if you’re an artist, these sensitive styluses will give you unparalleled precision that will feel as seamless as your favorite micron pen. These are the best smart pens to get.
1. Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse Smart Writing Set Pen
Moleskine makes some of the most beautiful notebooks on the market, but they’re also not afraid to go high tech. This writing includes a smart pen. The smart pen writes on paper and transfers the notes to your smartphone through the proprietary app. The app can be found in the App Store or Google Play. And while the notebook may look like a regular Moleskine, it’s actually specially designed paper to assist the pen in transferring data. The set comes in a giftable box.
Pros: Trusted Moleskine quality. Includes a smart pen and a notebook. Notes are automatically transferred to the app.
Cons: The pen is designed to work specifically with the special Moleskine notebook, so you can’t use it with a different notebook, for example.
2. Wacom Intuos Wireless Graphics Drawing Tablet
If you’re an artist or graphic designer, having a dependable drawing tablet is important. While there are plenty of options on the market, Wacom is as close as it gets to an industry standard. The pen has 4,096 levels of pressure sensitivity, giving it unparalleled precision. The tablet can be connected using USB or Bluetooth. And while many smart styluses have small batteries that deplete quickly, the Wacom pen doesn’t have a battery.
Pros: Good option for artists, also works well for notetaking or graphs. Works wired or wireless. Pen doesn’t rely on a battery.
Cons: Can have something of a learning curve.
3. Evach Active Stylus
If you’re looking for a reasonably-priced active stylus that you can use with a variety of tablets and touchscreen devices, consider this option from Evach. It has a fine tip that adjusts, giving you a realistic writing experience. It also works well for drawing. In addition to the fine ballpoint tip, there’s a thicker fabric tip that can be used for wider brushwork or as a stand-in for a finger tip. It is battery-powered, so it will need to be recharged. However, it’s supposed to have an eight-hour battery life.
Pros: Works with a variety of touchscreen devices. Has a fine ballpoint-like tip for writing and drawing, plus a wider fabric tip for smudge-free touchscreen use.
Cons: Auto-shutoff saves battery, but can be annoying if it’s in use.