IRISPen Express 7 

While it shaped life a pen it is not one, it is a scanner – a rather good one – for scanning items into such things as Microsoft Office, it also has another function in that if you right click an image it converts it into a small PDF.

irispen express 7 optical pen
click image to enlarge

IRISPen Express 7 measures 15.5x2.5x1.5cm, a 1.4metre USB lead is hard wired into the tail of the unit. I used it in a USB2 port but it will work in USB3 but at no faster speed. In fact while the head is 2.5cm wide it will only read a single line at a time.

In the initial setup you are asked a very important question ‘are you left or right handed’. It determines what the scanner should expect.

My initial tests were a little hit and miss and it often told me I was scanning too fast or too slow but once I had worked out how and why things improved. The other thing that matters is the amount of pressure you apply, you need a light touch.

Space is also a fairly important requirement so the page or book you are scanning from can lay flat so the page does not drag or get pushed.

Use it rather like a highlighter and the results will be good, as with most OCR products the 99% accuracy claim is there and no doubt with a smooth hand and clear space it could be achieved.

To begin with you tend to look at the screen to see what you have achieved and while for a single line or two that is OK perhaps the built in ‘Text to Speech’ capability could be useful so you know if things are going to plan, I am told this is only available in English but the OCR software recognises over thirty languages.

You can scan text or numbers into a lot of packages and I inserted text into Microsoft Word and Wordpad and numbers into Excel without problem. You can even scan the results into emails from a range of products including Microsoft Outlook.

First open IrisScan Express 7 and then your word processor or spread sheet then scan the text or numbers and the result will appear at the point your cursor is at and the text is text and numbers are numbers so are immediately editable.

While this is perhaps the main selling point and the ability to save time with accuracy is ideal it has another ability and that is to scan small graphics such as logos or signatures and save them as separate images. Flags could be a useful revision aid.

The install is quite easy but you do need to activate it before using for the first time and this will require an Internet connection.

The stated space required is only 180MB and unless you copy the install CD to an SD card or USB stick you will need a CD-ROM drive for installation. It should work on Windows 2000 or later and the stated processor is a ‘Pentium or equivalent’.

There is a learning curve but once mastered it can save time and increase accuracy. My initial tests were less than perfect but once you master speed and pressure providing you have space then things should word as expected.

My advice is to master it before you have a deadline as your stress can be carried through to your hand movements, know it will give accurate results before you are in a library where you have limited time to get the information you require.

IRISPen is available from the link below for £99.99 including delivery.

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