The Livescribe 3 is the third version of the popular smartpen. The pen works just like your traditional high-end ballpoint pen, but connects to your phone or tablet via Bluetooth to transfer your notes there as well. Notes you take with the Livescribe pen have to be written in one of the company's special notebooks in order for the pen to be able to digitize them. Once digitized, your note can be converted into digital text and tagged so they're easily searchable later on.
Equil's Jot smartpen can be used with any type of paper, even a cocktail napkin. The pen has a small reader that's placed at the top of the page before you start writing that communicates with your phone or tablet while you take notes. Like the Livescribe solution, notes you take are searchable later on. You can also instantly share a note with a friend who missed class or who didn't catch all of a particular presentation.
Mimoto's smartpen works a lot like the Jot. To use it, you'll have to place a special reader at the top of your page before you start writing. Mimoto's pen works with iOS devices as well as Android and BlackBerry phones and tablets. You can also transfer notes directly from the pen to your Mac or PC.
The Neo N2 stores notes you take on the pen itself. The pen is capable of holding up to 1,000 pages of notes before you'll have to sync it. Like the Livescribe pen, recording notes requires that you use Neo's special notebooks and paper. Notes you take can be converted into digital text and/or saved as a pdf. Later on you can search for specific notes by date or by topic.
The Livescribe Echo is the budget version of the company's smartpen. With the Echo you can do the same things you can with the Livescribe 3, the difference being how you transfer notes when you're done. While the Livescribe 3 transfers notes wirelessly over Bluetooth, the Echo requires you to connect the pen to your computer via USB in order to transfer what you've written.