Longtime pen enthusiast here. I consider it a key tool of my trade — well, next to my MacBook, that is. And having such an old school but truly integral instrument linked to my tech gadgetry only deepens my fondness of it. However, some smartpens I’ve come across turned out to be lots of buck, not enough bang.  So I’ve been really eager to try out the new Equil Smartpen 2 to see if it figured out how to make a smartpen seem, well, smart.

Happy to report: I am not disappointed with this smart stylus. I am even edging up towards being smitten.


Equil Smartpen 2: digitize your handwritten notes!

First, the size of the smartpen makes sense. I don’t feel like I’m holding a carrot in my hand, and it’s light enough to make me forget there was a working “brain” in the thing, and I wrote like I would with any ol’ Bic. I find the pen’s pressure-sensitive tip can pick even the smallest line or detail from your handwritten paper version. There’s also an option to convert your handwritten missives into text, but that’s an extra in-app purchase.

One of the huge benefits though, compared with other smart pens like the LiveScribe is that you don’t need a special notebook.  Use any kind of paper, notepad, Post-It, scrap sheet, even a cocktail napkin to write on. All you do is clip the tiny receiver that comes with the pen at the top of the page and you’re set.

Using Bluetooth, you can even send the pen stroke info to a paired device and watch your files go digital in real-time.


Equil Smartpen 2: a great holiday gift!

Both the receiver and the smartpen have a built-in memory so you can save notes or sketches and import them to your Android, PC, Mac or iOS device whenever you want. You can also edit the digital notes (add some orange stars after the fact, maybe) through the free Equil Note app and share it via iCloud, Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook or Twitter.

However of the neatest tricks happens when you’re done using the Equil Smartpen 2. The pen and receiver tuck away all neat and nice into a triangular docking station that’s cover with a thin, magnetic flap that’s similar to the iPad’s smart cover. It’s basically begging to be tossed into your tote.

Equil SmartPen 2: Digitize text and art without any special paper

Overall, I really like this smartpen for its ease, portability and “upload when you’re ready” factor.  However, it still is a whole lot of cash to throw down for a writing instrument. But if anyone’s looking for the perfect gift for your favorite boss, design pro, entrepreneur, or art student (or uh, sweet ol’ me), this smart stylus would be a step in the right direction.

Digitize your handwritten notes easily with the The Equil Smartpen 2, available on the Equil site for $170. Equil Note and Equil Sketch apps are free downloads on iTunes, the Mac App Store and Google Play. Thanks to the company for providing a test unit for review.