The Moleskine PEN+ ELLIPSE lets you record your scribblings right into your pen

Moleskine, to the uninitiated, makes notebooks and stationery popular with artistes, travelers, and folks who jot down poetry in between sips of chai latte in some delicate cafe in Kreuzberg. They are rugged little things that resisted the encroachment of high tech but now, thanks to the PEN+ ELLIPSE, you can turn your musings into digital files instantly.

The PEN+ ELLIPSE is a surprisingly compact pen that uses special paper notebooks and a built-in sensor to record what you draw and automatically send it to a phone or tablet. Further, the pen can record your writings as well as any ambient sound and then send it to your phone later, thereby ensuring that you don’t miss a thing even if your devices are packed away.

It’s a clever – and at $179, a pricey – solution. I’ve used a number smart pens over the years and this one is surprisingly compact and usable. I especially like the off-line mode which, provided you turn the pen on, allows you to record without having your phone open next to your notebook. If you do have your phone open, however, it’s quite magical to see your writing appear on screen as you scribble.

Like its closest competitor, LiveScribe the PEN+ ELLIPSE records record audio as you write. However, the many features associated with the pen and app combo – including the ability to change color and line styles as you draw – makes this solution a bit more interesting for artists.

While nothing beats a Madeline, a Moleskine, and a Palomino Blackwing on the banks of the Seine, this clever and compact digital pen solution is the next best thing to staying fully analog.