Which Reading Pen Model Is Right For You?
As their name suggests, reading pens are pen-shaped devices that function as reading, scanning, spelling, storing, and translating tools. A reading pen can be a helpful tool for a wide range of users, from those with reading and learning difficulties (particularly dyslexia) to students and business travelers looking to work more efficiently. Most reading pens have a scanning mechanism in place of a pen tip. Sliding the pen over a word, phrase, or line scans the text, which can then be accessed via some of the features listed below:
- Reading: Reading pens read scanned text out-loud to the user. Students who often need reading assistance are able to increase their independence by having the pen read to them, rather than an instructor. Headphones may be used as an option for added privacy. The audio output can also be helpful in clarifying certain word pronunciations.
- Spelling: After a word is scanned, the built-in pen dictionaries can search and speak the definition out-loud. Users can also search for synonyms, idioms/phrase definitions, and syllabic word divisions. Some pens offer word games for individuals to improve on their vocabulary.
- Translating: Word, sentence, and paragraph translations can be instantly displayed on a pen’s LCD screen or user’s computer screen. The scanned text can be spoken in the original or translated language. Idioms and phrases are also properly translated.
- Storing: Reading pens can store text for later playback. Storage space for scanned text varies within each pen. Most pens have USB connectivity to allow for easy transferring.
The following chart offers a comparison of different reading pen models, with each pen’s target audience and best uses highlighted:
- ReadingPen 2: The Reading Pen 2 supports readers who need occasional help with word pronunciation or definitions. Scanned text is read aloud and simultaneously displayed on the LCD screen. The pen also displays syllabic divisions of words.
- ReadingPen TS: Catering towards individuals struggling with reading, the Reading Pen TS greatly builds upon the basic foundation of the Reading Pen 2. This pen has translation capability in supported languages. Users can create personal word lists to improve their vocabulary as well as play word games using words from their list. The USB outlet allows scanned text to be transferred to a computer for further practice and interaction with the information.
- InfoScan TS Elite: Students, researchers, and business people are the target audience for the InfoScan TS Elite. The large storage space, up to 20,000 lines at a time, makes this an ideal portable pen for use away from the computer. Scanned text is easily transferred to computer via USB connectivity, and text can be scanned in directly to a Windows-based application while connected.
- Livescribe: The unique Livescribe Smartpen is the only reading pen listed that can also serve as a writing pen. A camera is embedded by the pen tip to continually capture any hand-written notes. The Smartpen’s built-in microphone records any lectures or meetings, while the pen’s speakers are able to play back the recorded audio. By connecting the Smartpen to a USB port, all notes and recorded audio easily transfer to an individual’s PC or Mac. Through a Livescribe program, the user can recreate a ‘live’ lecture experience by syncing his or her notes with the audio. This program also makes it easy to organize, search, and share notes.
- Quicktionary 2: The Quicktionary 2 is a portable, pocket-sized translator that benefits those who need language support at school, work, or travel. The pen is able to give instant translation of scanned words, idioms and phrases, or lines of text. The translation is spoken aloud and visually displayed on the pen’s LCD.