While the product’s title refers to the scanner element of this package as a “pen”, it is more like a black magic marker or highlighter in appearance right down to the removable cap at one end. It is this end that contains the scanner element which is protected by the cap when not being used. This “pen” unit has dimensions of 15 x 140 x 25mm (H x L x W) with a mini USB port at the opposite end to the cap. These dimensions give the clue that this hand-held scanner is limited to scanning and recognising the text one line at a time.
Before using this device you do need to install the supplied software before attaching the scanner to the host Windows system. The software installation process requires the entry of an 18-character serial number, located on the back of the CD envelope, in order to activate the product. Once the installation has been completed and the “pen” unit attached via an available USB port, you can access the software.
When you first run this software you will be presented with a Welcoming walk-through. This walk-through opens with a tutorial which deals with the expectations and how to get the best results when using this pen-grip type hand-held scanner. Having absorbed this knowledge you can enter whether you are right or left handed as this will have an effect on the way the scanner text needs to be treated. Finally you are provided with a practice module which can be accessed at other times if you feel the need for some additional sessions will prove useful.
The scanning process is activated whenever the scanner head comes into contact with the source document. It is advisable not to press too hard and use a smooth sweeping motion for guiding the scanner over the targeted text. The speed of the sweep is important to get the optimum results. I found that the faster the movement across the text produced the best results.
Practice mode can be a little disconcerting especially in the earlier stages as the scan appears on screen. I found the image to be rather wavy. Fortunately you can ignore this initially view as the software quickly changes it into a straight image and then converts it into editable text. If you have selected the “Say out loud” option then the text will be spoken. The voice used will depend upon your choice of language with UK English delivered in a pleasant female voice.
Moving on from practice mode, the IRISPen software presents an interface consisting of a fixed panel running down the left side of the screen. Using this panel you can make a series of selection regarding the scan and how it is treated. The scan can be treated as an image or text with a further option to differentiate between letters and numerals. You can use default or custom separators and opt for a translation option which I will return to shortly.
In basic “Scan to doc/app” mode, you need to open the application into which the scan will be placed. This needs to be an application that can handle text/numeral input such as word processor or spreadsheet. When you need to transfer larger block of content then multiple scans will be required. You will then be able to edit the content as necessary.
IRISPen also provides a further three modes for handling scanned data using the software’s built-in modules rather than third-party applications. You can scan simple images, such as a logo, signature or formula, into an Images Collector module. Some care needs to be taken with the selection of these images as I found these scanned images to be rather blocky. This module has some basic tools for saving, printing, copying and pasting the scanned images.
If you just want to hear how the text sounds in its native tongue then you can scan text into a Text-to-Speech module. Once you have selected the appropriate language from the list of those supported you can then hear the text being read back to you. There is also a module that offers to Scan & Translate with a translation service for over 50 languages.
Unfortunately I had no success when attempting to implement the translation service. Whatever text I scanned and whatever language I selected for translation, the result was the same. A message, for example “Oops ... Translation failure, from English (UK) to French” would appear. The failure message would be spoken in the designated language but there would be no translated printed text. This problem occurred when trying to translate from and to English using various other languages. As this feature is meant to use the Google Translation service, I scanned text straight into this service but the same message appeared. I have reported this problem to IRIS but, as yet, I have had no response. I also had little success when scanning my hand-written notes but I put this down to the illegality of my handwriting.
Overall I was impressed with the scanning capability of the IRISPen apart from a dislike of the colour RED. This was not my dislike but that of the scanner. Whenever the scanner encountered text coloured red then it would fail to deliver that content. This is a problem I have encountered with certain other scanning devices such as card readers.
The IRISPen Executive 7 is compatible with any Windows system from version 2000 and later with Internet access for one-time activation and 180MB of hard disk space. Pricing should be in the region of £99 although IRIS has yet to confirm this figure.
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