Moleskine’s latest smart pen saves your writing to download later

So long as you don't mind paying $180 for a writing implement.

Moleskine has valiantly tried to bridge the divide between analog writing and digital files for years. The company released its Smart Writing Set in 2016 as a $200 holistic solution of pen, proprietary smart paper and app that instantly sent whatever you wrote or drew over to your paired device -- which worked as long as your smartphone or tablet was nearby. But its newest writing implement, the $180 Pen+ Ellipse, liberates you from the latter need, saving all your scratchings in an offline mode until it connects to your device again.

This could actually be handy for writing in busy situations -- trains, outdoors, in low-light -- where pulling out your device to sync up is cumbersome. Unlike the pen that comes with the Smart Writing Set, the Pen+ Ellipse also has a little clip on the cap to slide on to your favorite notebook -- though, of course, you'll be using a $30 one from Moleskine's Smart Writing Set line, since those are the only ones with the aforementioned Ncode smart paper. If you want to make it to the digital note-taking future, you'll have to pay to get there.

And you'll literally have to check off terms and conditions boxes to use the system, if our hands-on with the smart planner notebook is any indication of the rest of the product line. But if you're a believer (with deep pockets) who doesn't mind playing ball within Moleskine's small enclosure of proprietary smart products, the Pen+ Ellipse has improved on the earlier smart pen with a consideration we all know: Sometimes your devices just don't play nice with each other.