Have you ever wanted a pen that could play the piano, solve math problems, record a lecture, speak Spanish, and translate your handwriting into type? No? Well, you do now.
It's called the Livescribe Pulse Smartpen, and it contains an audio recorder and a tiny infrared camera that records everything the pen writes. Say you are in a meeting, taking notes on Livescribe's special lined paper, which can be printed from the company's free downloadable software. Record the meeting while you are writing. Then, tap anywhere on your notes, and the pen begins playing the audio from that point in the recording. Dock the pen in its USB charging cradle, and the notes and audio are uploaded to your computer, where Livescribe can convert your handwriting into type.
The pen has other cool tools. The special paper has a calculator printed on it, and if you tap its "buttons," the pen will perform math problems. Draw a piano keyboard, and the pen will play notes as you tap the keys. A translation tool, which will allow users to write a word in English and get a translation in Spanish, should be available in mid-2009. Not enough? Livescribe is opening an application store later this year and hoping developers will come up with new, even cleverer uses for the pen.
Cost: The 1GB version costs $149.95; the 2GB unit is $199.95; handwriting-conversion software is $29.95.