Due to technical problems, reporter Jodie Mason has asked me to post this on her behalf.
By Jodie Mason, A2 Journal
In the beginning of October, I was given the Echo Smartpen, a pen device that contains a microphone, speaker and time display. Once the cap is removed, the pen is turned on with a small button at the top. After that, you hit the “record” button at the bottom of a binder filled with electronic paper and you’re recording, both on the paper and voice.
After you’ve hit “stop,” you simply tap the paper and the recording syncs with the writing on the paper. The pen also includes software that can be easily downloaded to the computer. This software adds the voice recording to the computer where it can be saved and edited, as well as digitally transfers all writing to the screen.
Goal: When I received the Echo Smartpen to test out, I was curious to get started. My first thought was also a worry: How is an omni-directional microphone on a tiny little pen going to pick up only what I need.
Training: The learning curve with the Smartpen was very short. Once I changed the settings to left-handed, it required only removing the cap from the pen and hitting record. I found that as I went on, I could reduce background noise by pointing the microphone where I needed. Only once did I have to physically shield the mic from surrounding noise.
Resources: Everything is included, no additional resources are needed. Simply plug the pen into the computer with the included USB attachment and the software downloads automatically.
Obstacles: The Echo Smartpen is best used when during an interview or at a panel discussion. I found it difficult to use at City Council meetings due to the nature of the space, voices carry echo and there’s usually a lot of scuffling. Also, if you’re heavy-handed at writing, you can sometimes hear the sound the pen on the paper.Accomplishment: The Echo Smartpen has become a necessary tool in my reporting arsenal. It completely eliminates the need for a hand-held voice recorder, and since it comes with its own computer software, the ease of loading the information to the computer and therefore into the article makes this one of the best tools I have ever used.