Pen combines tactile writing with a digital interface.
For many years now, I’ve tried to find a good middle ground between writing with a classic pen and paper and the digital world. I’ve worked with Styluses and even the Apple Pencil, which comes very close to the way a pen really feels on paper but nothing has ever really made the grade. That is — until I met the Pen+ Ellipse by Moleskine.
The Pen+ Ellipse is part of a smart writing system by Moleskine that uses an ink-based pen and Ncoded paper technology to capture hand-written notes in real time. The pen has a similar design to the Moleskine Classic Pens and includes a clip so that it can attach to the cover of any notebook. The Pen+ Ellipse works with Moleskine Paper Tablets and Smart Planners. The Ncoded paper lets the pen recognize individual pages. The Pen+ Ellipse will save and store all of your writings and drawings on your smartphone or tablet. The Pen+ Ellipse comes with a USB cable for charging, one pen tip ink refill, and the Volant XS Starter Journal.
In addition to the abilities of the pen, the app provides additional functionality. The notes you create on paper are automatically transferred to the Moleskine Notes app. You can store, find, edit, and share your digitized notes. Your strokes are simultaneously captured into the app (as long as the pen is connected to your phone). You have the option to use tags to keep ideas organized, edit your notes using colors and highlighting, sync your notes to Google Drive and Evernote, and you can add real-time audio recordings into the Moleskine app and sync notes straight from the app.
ADDITIONAL FEATURES (from app description)
- Digital Storage: Moleskine Pen+ is a smartpen that writes on paper but also mirrors into smart devices. The pressure recognition of pen tip is very sensitive. So your handwritten notes and sketches have just as much detail as your physical ones!
- Transcribe & Search handwritten notes: Your handwritten notes can transcribe into digital text through MyScript’s engine. Once the handwritten text is transcribed into digital text, you can export the data, tag content, or search by note pages. Your search results will display notes on the screen.
- Easy Share: Your handwritten contents can be shared via the app and SNS, and can be sent an email by a single pen-action.
- Record & Playback: Playback the pen stroke data or the audio file that is synced with the strokes. A digital version of your stroke data and audio will be stored in the App and will be accessible anywhere you go. While you record your voice during writing, you can replay your written notes and recorded voice simultaneously according to the timeline.
- Data reproduction: Your drawing can be exported in a scale-able image format, namely SVG or PNG or JPG, which allows you to reproduce them.
- Internal Memory: Moleskine Pen+ can store up to 1,000 pages (5 Notebooks) by itself without being connected to smart devices. Once you connect Moleskine Pen+ to a smart device, the app will automatically archive the notes by date, location and page.
When I started using the Moleskine writing system, I have to admit that I got a little tripped up. I wasn’t sure exactly how to get started. The pen was unfortunately uncharged when I unboxed it. I do love the simple red gift-style box that the pen is stored in and enjoy that the Micro USB cable for charging it is also housed there. At first, I simply started writing a few notes – things like “This is the first note with my new Moleskine Smart Writing Set” and “This is my new pen and notebook” just to try out the pen. I’ve always liked having different styles of pens available depending on how they write. As far as the pen goes, it writes really nicely. It’s got a smooth medium-fine tip and the ink comes out smoothly. I’ve not had any issues with the pen stuttered — for lack of a better word — on paper.
As far as connectivity to the app goes, the pen stays connected when the app is opened. When it’s not, the pen will record writing to upload to the app later. I’ve uploaded a half a page of writing up to five pages of writing to the app at one time. The combination of the mechanical writing of the pen and paper and the digital app is a match made in heaven. Moleskine designed it perfectly and the system works!
I have been impressed with the responsiveness of the pen/app combo. When the pen is connected to the app, the data transfers over instantaneously and the new writing appears like magic. Another feature I was apprehensive of was the handwriting to text function. I’ve used this before with other apps with little success. So, I didn’t really think it would work well in this case either. I’m happy to say that I was mistaken. Sometimes my handwriting can be quite messy especially when I get rushed. Printed letters will sometimes meld together with cursive ones so I really didn’t expect for the app to be able to translate my writing well. I have included an example below of some notes I wrote about a product I was testing. You can see the translation next to it. I would say it was about 86% accurate. I only saw 6 words that were incorrect out of the 42 words that I wrote out in the example. I felt that was probably the best I’ve ever seen handwriting-to-text recognition be.
I feel that the Moleskine Pen+ Ellipse Smart Writing System is probably the best digital/old school combination that I’ve seen. I get the joy of writing with a real ink pen with the modern convenience of the digital notes. Even though there are e-ink options out there, I much prefer having a real pen in my hand.