Best smart pens: Digital pens for sketching and note-taking 2023
Digital Pen For PC is a great way to digitize your notes and drawings quickly and easily, allowing you to share and edit your sketches on your computer later. These days they have stiff competition from tablets, which now allow you to write directly onto the screen using a stylus. But, for those who prefer the feeling of a pen in our hands and the tactile feel of paper, smart pens are still a great option.
We tested the top seven intelligent pens from six manufacturers for over sixteen hours by writing, doodling, and taking notes. We wrote out the Gettysburg Address with each pen to get a feel for writing long-form and to test for accuracy. We also sketched at least two pictures with each pen to get a feel for how well the digital pens could replicate finer details and shading.
In the end, the Livescribe 3 Smartpen wins our best overall wise pen ranking thanks to its impeccable accuracy, comfortable writing experience, and ease of use. Check out the rest of our rankings to see what we thought of the best smart pens on the market today.
Livescribe 3 Smart Pen: Best Overall
Livescribe 3 Smartpen
The Livescribe 3 Smartpen is the best smart pen we tested, thanks to its phenomenal accuracy in writing and drawing. It’s also comfortable and easy to use thanks to its soft-rubber grip and round design. We were suitably impressed with the breezy 30-second setup time. Syncing the pen was effortless once we installed the app on our smartphones. The Livescribe 3 Smartpen didn’t record a single inaccuracy in our writing or drawing tests. The Livescribe app also impressed us. Digitizing your handwriting is as easy as swiping left or right. You can also start or stop audio recordings using the app or the navigation icons printed at the bottom of Livescribe’s notebooks, which is a neat feature.
Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad
- Smartpad works with any paper
- Great accuracy with writing and drawing
- The paper must be aligned with the intelligent pad
- Short battery life
Whether you’re a casual doodler, a professional artist, or anyone, the Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad is the ideal smart pen for your needs. Thanks to the accompanying innovative pad, you can use any paper with the smart pen, which is perfect for artists who need their ideal canvas.
The Wacom Bamboo Folio Smartpad was almost perfect during our writing and drawing tests, with only one minor error. It’s also one of the most comfortable intelligent pens we’ve tested and features a simple twist mechanism to turn on. The pen itself doesn’t need charging, while the pad itself will run for eight hours before needing to be charged via micro-USB. It took us over a minute to set up the intelligent pad and pair it with our smartphone.
Using the intelligent pad is simple; place a sheet of paper over the innovative pad and start writing. When you’re finished, you can easily upload your work by pressing a button to synch the innovative pad with your smartphone. This instantly saves your work to the Wacom Inkspace app. From here, you can directly view and even edit your masterpieces. If you’re serious about drawing, Wacom Bamboo Folio is the intelligent choice.
3. Neo Smartpen N2: Best for comfort
Neo Smartpen N2
Impressive comfort at an affordable price
- One of the most comfortable pens we tested
- Quick setup
- Shortest battery life we tested
- A bit on the heavy side
The Neo Smartpen N2 is easy to set up and feels comfortable in your hand, but it requires special notebooks and writing pads.
The pen is one of the longest we tested, but the metal body and elegant design offer an attractive alternative to many of the triangular digital pens on the market. It’s also elementary to use; all you have to do is press a button on the bottom of the pen to turn it on. You can also toggle the Bluetooth and pairing settings using buttons on the pen. When we put the Neo Smartpen N2 through our writing and drawing tests, it performed better than average, but there were a couple of errors in both the writing and drawing tests.
This Neo Smartpen N2 charges through a micro-USB port on top of the pen. The lackluster five-hour battery life is the shortest of any pen we tested, so it will require frequent charging if you’re a heavy user. Set up was quick, though, only taking around 30 seconds to pair the pen to our smartphone. If you’re looking for a sleek, metallic smart pen that works well and feels great, the Neo Smartpen N2 is a solid choice.
4. Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse: Best for accessories
Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse
Comfort and elegance come at a cost
- Stylish design
- Excellent writing and drawing accuracy
- It only works with proprietary notepads
- Poor battery life
The Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse is part of the Moleskine Smart Writing System, a collection of high-quality products by the famous Italian paper maker. The Smart Writing System includes the Pen+ and Ncoded Paper Tablets.
Like many of the intelligent pens we tested, the proprietary paper works appropriately, but the Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse requires proprietary notebooks to function. However, we can say that Moleskines are the best, as they don’t sacrifice style or practicality. You pay a hefty price for these fancy notebooks, though. The pen itself is sleek and weighs about as much as five regular Bic pens. It’s comfortable to hold and easy to write, sporting a triangular design and slender profile.
In our handwriting tests, however, the Pen+ recorded only one error when we wrote out the full Gettysburg address. Likewise, transcribing the written words to the app had highly accurate results, even with messy handwriting. But it didn’t fare as well in our drawing tests, so it’s not the best choice for artists.
Despite that, the excellent handwriting accuracy and the app’s ability to record audio make it great for note-taking during lectures or meetings.
IRISNotes Air 3 Digital Pen: Best value
IRISNotes Air 3 Digital Pen
Record your notes on any surface.
- Works on any paper
- Very accurate for writing
- Poor for drawing
- The pen cap doesn’t fit on the back of the pen
Unlike many intelligent pens, the IRISNotes Air 3 doesn’t require special paper to work correctly. Instead, it uses a transceiver that attaches to your notebook for accurate handwriting recording on any paper. This means you don’t need to buy special notebooks, which are often expensive.
The IRISNotes Air 3 has a smartphone and computer app that lets you upload your notes in a digital format. The IRISNotes Air 3 performed well in our handwriting tests, with only a few minor errors, which makes it perfect for note-taking. Sadly, it performed poorly in our drawing tests, so we wouldn’t recommend it for drawing.
There are a couple of odd design choices on the IRISNotes Air 3. The pen and the transceiver need charging, but the pen only comes with a single charging cable. The second issue is that the pen lid doesn’t fit on the back of the pen, which makes it highly likely that you’ll lose it at some point.
Built-in audio recorder
- Incredible accuracy in writing and drawing
- Built-in audio recorder
- No voice-to-text transcription
The Livescribe Echo almost has it all. It delivers fantastic accuracy for writing and drawing, which is vital for a smart pen. It also comes with a built-in audio recorder, allowing you to record interviews and lectures so you can write them out later. It even has a great battery life despite these added features.
Sadly where the Livescribe Echo falls is in the comfort department. Because it has an audio recorder stuffed into its casing alongside all the other technology, Livescribe has had to make the Echo extraordinarily bulky to accommodate all this tech, making it cumbersome.
With all that said, the Livescribe Echo is still a fine choice if you’re looking for a combination smart pen and audio recorder.
Equal Smartpen 2
Equil Smartpen 2
All forms and no function
- Comfortable writing with
- Dual charging for pen and transceiver
- Poor accuracy in writing and drawing
- Buzzing sound when in use
The Equil 2 Smartpen is one of the most comfortable intelligent pens we’ve ever used. It also features a dual charging system that lets you charge both the pen and the transceiver at the same time, which is a nice touch that many transceiver-style smart pens lack.
Sadly, that’s where things start to come undone. It has poor accuracy when used for either writing or drawing. Worse still, an annoying buzzing sound emanates from the device when it is in use.
There are better intelligent pens on the market, both in terms of value and quality, so we can’t recommend the Equil 2 Smartpen.
Why should you trust us?
We conducted our hands-on tests with each smart pen – writing, doodling, and taking notes for over 16 hours. We scoured other review sites and consumer reviews to see what other people had to say about the pens and considered their ratings. We wrote out the Gettysburg Address with each pen to get a feel for the comfort and accuracy of each one. We also sketched at least two pictures to see how well the intelligent pens could replicate finer details and shading. We weighed the pens using a high-quality scale in our test lab and took careful notes as we wrote with each pen. We have reviewed smart pens for several years and countless other digital products.
Because intelligent pens are such a niche device, the market is small. We tested all the powerful pens currently on the market that you can buy today, even some that may take weeks to ship from Amazon. We also scoured Kickstarter to look for any up-and-coming products. The pens we reviewed are the ones you’ll see on Amazon or in box stores.
Our testing procedure
To test the writing accuracy of the pens, we wrote out all 272 words of the Gettysburg Address with each pen and then compared the written copies with the digitized versions. We looked for extra lines and incorrect strokes incorrectly inserted by the pen. Incorrect lines counted as errors in our writing accuracy test.
When testing the accuracy of each smartpen used for sketching and drawing, we drew a simple house and attempted to draw a horse (we say attempted because it wasn’t pretty) with each pen. We looked for missing lines and incorrect shading when reviewing the digitized drawings for accuracy. As with the writing accuracy comparison, each missing feature was counted as an error in the sketching accuracy test.
How much do intelligent pens cost?
Most of the intelligent pens we evaluated cost about $150, though a few are over $200, like the Livescribe 3 Smartpen. Other things to consider when calculating cost are the prices of consumables, including ink refills and paper. A few of the pens we tested work with any paper, but most require the specially coded paper to work correctly. These papers are proprietary for each company. The Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse is one of the cheapest intelligent pens in our comparison. Still, the Paper Tablet notepads it uses are the most expensive and can mount up quickly.
Why buy a smart pen?
Intelligent pens are rapidly becoming obsolete. If you own an iPad Pro, the Apple Pencil offers better accuracy and functionality than any technology that digitizes physical pen and paper.
However, specific use cases, like taking notes in a college class or wanting to share your handwritten meeting notes, could make smart pens an intelligent buying decision. Be warned, however, that if your penmanship is sloppy, digitizing them won’t do you any favors.
If you’re looking for a smart pen that doubles as an audio recorder, then we recommend the Livescribe Echo, which has a solid voice recorder. If you want the most straightforward quality, a dedicated voice recorder will get much clearer audio. The intelligent pens in our reviews are best used for digitizing your handwritten notes; recording audio is more of an additional feature.
But if you’re an actual pen and paper fan, a smart pen could be a great way to digitize and keep track of handwritten notes and drawings. The high price and questionable quality make choosing the right pen an important decision, though, as they’re quite an investment versus a regular pen and paper. Read more in our reviews to determine which digital pen might work best for you.
Stylus for touchscreen tablets & phones
The intelligent pens we tested digitize handwritten notes and drawings and send them wirelessly to mobile apps on a phone or tablet. A stylus is the best option if you prefer sketching or taking notes on mobile devices by touching a pen directly to the touchscreen surface instead of a conventional notepad. Here are some of our favorite styluses for mobile devices.
This is the best stylus available if you have a first- or second-generation iPad Pro or a sixth-generation iPad. It doesn’t work on Android or Windows tablets, but because it’s designed specifically for iOS devices, there aren’t any issues with syncing or any lag in response time. The Apple Pencil syncs to the tablet via Bluetooth and charges with a Lightning connection. When you draw on the pressure-sensitive screen with the side of the tip, it creates broad strokes perfect for shading. The tip has a fine point for handwritten notes that’s highly accurate. It doesn’t have a rubber handle, which makes it slippery after many hours of use, but the size and weight feel similar to a conventional pencil or pen.
This stylus is a handwriting solution for digital and analog surfaces. On one end, there’s a fine-point stylus surrounded by a clear plastic disc that works on all iOS phones, tablets, and most Android devices. On the other end is a 0.8-millimeter ballpoint pen for writing on paper. The stylus syncs via Bluetooth and is compatible with popular note-taking apps like Notability and GoodNotes. This hybrid stylus doesn’t have the same creative painting and drawing features as the Apple Pencil, but it is an excellent option if you take notes on tablets and paper.
A digital pen is a battery-operated writing instrument that allows the user to capture a handwritten note or to draw digitally. Typically, a digital pen comes with a Universal Serial Bus (USB) cradle to let the user upload handwritten notes to a personal computer (PC). The pen looks like a regular ballpoint pen and can be used, but it requires special digital paper if the user wishes to capture what he has written digitally. A page of digital paper, which can be purchased in traditional pad or sticky-note size, has small dots that allow the pen to “see” what has been written.
Author’s Opinion regarding the Digital Pen For PC
The Digital Pen For PC has powerful features while considering the security purpose; priority is very high. No VPN or RDP is required for the said purpose. In some cases, the emulator also works fine, and middleware software also has a vital role in smooth functioning. Therefore, the author recommended the Digital Pen For PC for your personal use and has no issue regarding the installation on PC (Windows and Mac). I hope you also use it without any trouble; if you have any issues, please mention them in the email, and we will provide you with proper solutions. Please like and share with others. We made a lot of effort while collecting the software for your download.