"Pen scanner" recommendations? Is it even called a pen scanner?
December 23, 2010 7:38 AM   Subscribe

"Pen scanner" recommendations? Is it even called a pen scanner?

I often have to wade through tons of historical technical hardcopy texts and reports, with no softcopies available, and create my own summaries. I'd like a handheld OCR tool that I can use like a highlighter, except that instead of marking the hardcopy, it reads whatever line I run it over, converts it to a line of ASCII text, and stores it in internal memory. Ideally, it would have a USB plug on the other end that I could plug into my laptop later on for transfer onto my hard drive.

I've seen devices a lot like this, but not that seem to meet all of these requirements. Hope me, fellow MeFites: Any personal experiences good or bad with a device like this and what's it called?
posted by ZenMasterThis to Technology (3 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I've owned both a pen scanner, the InfoScan and a portable page scanner, VuPoint. The pen is pretty slow-going—a lot slower than highlighting—but reasonably accurate, and converts the scan into editable text as you scan. The page scanner is far faster, but captures the scan as a jpg image. You have to use OCR software(including with the scanner) to convert the image into editable text. When you scan a book, text in the gutter is in shadow and so doesn't scan as well. It's usually human-readable, but not OCR readable. So if you're capturing text from books and need editable text, the pen scanner is probably the way to go. What I've wound up doing is putting all my jpg files into a pdf and then annotating them so the file is searchable.
posted by markcmyers at 8:03 AM on December 23, 2010

Not quite hardware, but you can use notetaking/info-capture tools like Evernote and Microsoft OneNote to do OCR-like activities on pictures.

For example:



In that case, you'd use a camera (on your phone or an actual camera) to capture the image. It's a bit more general purpose than a pen scanner.

If you use an appropriate smartphone's camera, you can get the images into your Evernote account as you go along, and you'll see the results on your laptop when you sync the notes with the server.

Of course, this may not fit into your workflow.
posted by chengjih at 8:06 AM on December 23, 2010 [1 favorite]

If you end up considering the VuPoint mentioned above, be sure to check out this review done by a member of my book scanning forum.

I am also very interested in a device like the one you mention, so I am looking forward to a "best answer" here.
posted by fake at 8:32 AM on December 23, 2010

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