Moleskine’s Smart Writing System, the pen-and-notebook set that lets users digitize their handwritten notes onto a companion app, is adding a standalone $180 smartpen to the line. The Pen+ Ellipse is only compatible with the specially textured Moleskine notebooks, so you also have to purchase either the Paper Tablet or Smart Planner for it to work properly, which are $30 each. The Moleskine Notes app is compatible with iOS, Android, and most recently, Windows 10.
The Pen+ Ellipse appears to have virtually the same features as the Pen+ that comes with Moleskine’s $200 Smart Writing Set, just with a slightly new design. Both can pair your notes with audio recordings, and they also use the same nCode technology (the specially dotted paper found in the Paper Tablet and Smart Planner that tracks pen strokes and the pages being used) as the Neo Smartpen; they were developed in partnership with NeoLAB.
The Planner came out after the Smart Writing Set was released, so it’s a little surprising that Moleskine didn’t sell a standalone pen sooner. Before, users looking to sync up handwritten appointments to Google Calendar, iCal, Outlook, or Moleskine’s own minimalist Timepage calendar app would have had to purchase the $30 Smart Planner on top of the $200 Smart Writing Set. Now with the $180 Pen+ Ellipse, you can at least save $20, but if you’re willing to spend this much on digitized note-taking, does it make a difference?