Upgraded Features Make Old Devices Great Again

    Have you ever reminisced about going back to the simpler days of pen, ink and notebooks?

    Well, your prayers have been answered with the new version of the Livescribe Pen. Dubbed Symphony ($109.95), this new smartpen has all of the features of the older versions with a few enhancements.

    Traditionally, Livescribe Smartpens have always allowed you to transcribe notes, etc. onto pages in a notebook or pad and then transfer them to a computer using a dedicated cable connecting the pen and your computer.

    This newer—and faster—version dumps the cable, using Bluetooth technology to connect to any device. Plus it can handle audio.

    In addition, you can use the Livescribe+ app that gives you access to your transcriptions from any compatible device.

    Other features include:

    • The ability to transcribe your notes in 27+ languages
    • Auto-sync your notes to your favorite cloud services
    • Store up to 1,200 A4 pages on our pen before you need to sync
    • 90-day standby battery life.

    Powerline adapters have been around for years, but they all suffered from a common problem: They were slow and kept dropping connections.

    Enter, stage left, the new G.hn Powerline PLA 6456 ($199.99) from Zyxel .

    Simply put, all powerline adapters work the same. Each kit contains two adapters and connections are made by attaching one adapter to a networking device (probably a router or modem) and the other to the device you want to connect to the Internet or your network.

    Both adapters are plugged into standard wall sockets and use your home wiring to communicate with each other.

    This is usually where the problems begin. Older systems would constantly drop connections forcing users to unplug and replug the adapters, praying they would “see” each other. Connections would be verified via flashing – – – or solid – – – lights on the adapters.

    Thankfully, the folks at Zyxel have upgraded the reliability factor with these new beauties, which handled our one-gigabit network connection with nary a hiccup.

    Key features include:

    • Transmission speeds of up to one gigabit with an ethernet connection and 2.4-gigabit speeds when communicating with other powerline adapters
    • A transmission range of more than 1,600 feet
    • One 10/100/1000 Mbps RJ-45 connector with auto MDI/MDIX support
    • Each powerline network can contain up to 14 “nodes” or adapters
    • 128-bit AES encryption
    • Goes into standby mode to reduce the adapter’s power usage when the device is not in use
    • A pass-through power outlet so you can still use the outlet
    • It’s optimized for 8K video and online gaming


    • Michael L. Berman has more than 40 years' experience writing and editing for The Hartford Courant, The Norwich (CT) Bulletin, The Journal of Commerce and The Middletown (CT) Press. Mike's Techtalk column was syndicated by the Scripps Howard News Service from 1995 to 2000 and appeared as a computer and technology blog on www.shns.com until No. 19, 2013. You can also visit Mike's consumer technology website at www.jocgeek.com.

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