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143 of 145 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2008
I edit a small-town weekly newspaper, and in slow times, I like to have a story regarding some aspect of the town's history ready to go in as filler. So I spend quite a bit of time going through yellowed newspaper archives, and bought this toy to see if I could cut down on my retyping time. The result? Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn't. I find you have to recalibrate every time you start scanning a different newspaper page, and that the scanner works better on pages that still have good contrast, which is to say have not become too yellowed. The good news is that I get about 95 percent accuracy on unyellowed newsprint, so it works for me then; the bad news is that the error rate greatly rises when the contrast drops, so that retyping is still faster on most of the old stuff. But, it should be noted, I'm conducting a Pen Scanner Torture Test; I find it works just fine on better quality paper, such as book and magazines. But always, always, recalibrate first.
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108 of 109 people found the following review helpful
on February 23, 2008
I bought this product with some trepidation, as other reviewers' opinions of it were all over the map. When I first started trying to use it, it didn't work at all well. My first few scans (each being one line of text) came out pretty accurate, but after that things just deteriorated fast, until before long all I could ever get was a big string of unrecognized characters, represented by tildes (~). I read the PDF manual, tried various settings, to no avail.

Then I contacted IRIS customer support, and they sent me a list of things to try, three of which actually helped quite a bit, and now I'm scanning along fairly happily.

The last thing they suggested--and the first thing I tried--helped a lot. I clicked File > Reset to Factory Settings. I've had to do that again, after I saw a deterioration in results. So I guess I'll just have to live with the default settings and Reset them every so often. Not a big problem for me, though it would be for some users.

They also said it should take 3-4 seconds to scan a 6-inch line of text. I had been scanning much faster than that. Slowing down helped.

And they said that a wavy scan is a big problem. I have found that by positioning a ruler about 3/4 inch below the line I want to scan works pretty nicely--I just run the scanner along the ruler as a guide, and it eliminates the wavy-line problem. (The thing doesn't seem to be bother if the line of text rises or falls slightly from left to right, provided it's all in a fairly straight line.)

I should mention that I suffer from a slight tremor in my hands, and so it is possible that some of my difficulties would not be experienced by someone with a steadier hand.

Bottom line: You can make this thing work if you stick with it. If, like me, you are constantly needing to scan in fragments of text, you will find it worth the trouble to overcome initial difficulties, should you experience them.
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100 of 101 people found the following review helpful
on December 20, 2007
The several versions of this product differ in the software offered, the scanning pen, apparently, is the same for all. Iris Express seemed good enough for me since I only wanted to copy information from library books.

Getting useful copy requires a steady hand, a modicum of practice and, above all else, proper settings of the scanner. Operating instructions are both obscure and sketchy, so a beginner should stay with the manufacturer's default settings until some proficiency is gained. It helped, somewhat, to download the instruction file from the ReadIris website when I was ready to create settings of my own. Those instructions are inadequate too, but better than those packaged with the pen.

Once technique is mastered, character recognition is excellent, but the output text is plain, with no formatting whatsoever. That lack is easily corrected by sending the copy to a word processor.

Everything considered, I'm glad I bought the gadget.
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48 of 48 people found the following review helpful
on November 3, 2008
I bought the IRISpen Express in the hope that it would make the endless research projects I have for college a little less time consuming. I always found it tedious and disruptive to have to stop reading to note a phrase or quote for use in a paper. Also, it is time consuming to have to refer back to those little sticky notes when it is time to type up the paper or even to compile the research for review.
The IRISpen makes it much easier to simply sit with a book and read it as usual. When I come across a part that I want to include in a paper or even just keep on my computer for use in a blog or webpage, I simply scan the page number and the passage I want to use. Done. I have blasted through 4 library books today in the time it would have taken to work through a one or two because I dont have to stop reading to type. I set up my laptop next to me and start a heading on OneNote with the book that I am reading. That way all I have to do is scan it like a highlighter when I see something I want.

This little scanner has made life as a student much easier and less time consuming. Im also one of the most organized students now, because all my notes are digital and can easily be searched.

There are, of course, flaws with the pen; it isnt perfect at recognition so it is important to review the text periodically to fix spelling errors. It helps to calibrate it before using it every time, which thankfully takes about 5 seconds. Other than that, I have been very pleased with the IRISpen and I would recommend it to busy students or professionals who have to organize printed material for any sort of publication.
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44 of 44 people found the following review helpful
on February 27, 2010
I'd like to set out a review for mac users.
1. I am a law student trying to use the scanner to consolidate information from book to print. The books I use have writing in them, over the words, and lots of highlighting and underlining.
2. I was extremely reticent to buy the pen because of the negative reviews.
3. I am using a Macbook Pro (2010) with the pen.

The bottom line is that the pen really does work when you are using it with written text. Reviews that mention otherwise (I have noticed) are mainly PC users. The pen really is helpful in getting down all of the information you want.

A. Dealing with books (exclusively with typed print)
The pen works wonderfully. It works BEST with a book on a flat surface. (I have only had problems with very thick book in the beginning chapters (where the binding is not flat on the table. It can read over yellow highlighting without a problem. It has a 60-70% success rate with underlined words. It obviously works best with clean text.

B. Mac experience
I have a feelign that the OCR engine for the mac software is somewhat different (though I could be wrong) than the PC version. The far and few between Mac users have seem to have positive experiences.

C. Realistic Expectations
In an ideal world, the pen would work perfectly... of course, it does not. But you can definitely optimize the experience to make it work best for you.
1. Somehow it depends on the light. Insufficient lighting with not allow the text to be read. Too much lighting on the other hand, seems to overwhelm the pen and writing does not get recognized (so don't hold have your friend hold a flashlight above the book... like we did last weekend). Second, the pen can recognize text REALLY quickly. But when it's underlined or highlighted, slow down. I usually do an entire line (flat, good lighting, clean text) in a quarter of a second. And it's 99% always right. I slow down on highlighted text and that seems to work well.

Lastly, I typically run into problems when I try to only get particular words from the page instead of a whole line. this might be due to my beginner level use, though.

Just realize that this technology isn't perfect, but it is pretty good. For the price, it will save you thousands of keystrokes. I just hope this review presents an objective approach that might explain some of the more negative ones. If you find any questions or issues, comment and I'll try my best to address.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2007
This product works alright, so long that one is willing to put up with plenty of grief. The IRISPen express 6 promises to scan printed text and numbers "with an accuracy of up to 100%." Technically, this is accurate, since anywhere from 1% to 99% of the time can be considered "up to 100%," but it is also misleading, given the experience of use. About 40% of the time, the scanner interprets chicken scratch from printed text, and the result is completely unreadable. Another 40% of the time, the text is readable but not accurate. One must spend a good deal of time determining what the scanner meant. ("W" often shows up as "\V" and "to" often becomes £o," spaces do not necessarily scan at all, soyourtextlookslikethis, and other similar inaccuracies.) Completely accurate text appears perhaps 15% of the time. With this in mind, the scanner handles highlighting fine, and serves as a good replacement for sticky notes and highlighting in books, and is usually faster than typing notes. Forget scanning underlined text, though. The pen shows almost no recognition for it.
The percentages above totaled 95%. The other 5% of the time, the pen will freeze. Although this product advertises full compatibility with Macintosh--one of the few products to do so--there are several technical glitches that need to be worked out. When the pen freezes, it is completely unresponsive to the "force quit" feature and remains unusable until the computer is restarted. Do not bother trying to do the safe restart. The pen blocks anything short of flipping the switch. I have sought technical support on this issue, but have yet to receive a response.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on August 4, 2008
I used to use Optical Character Recognition software in Mac OS9 but haven't for years. Usually the result wasn't much better than typing the material from scratch. Professional OCR software for OS X was way beyond my budget. I hesitated to buy this product because of the negative reviews but finally did so anyway. Setup took less than 5 minutes and I was soon scanning with about 90% accuracy if I followed the directions, which took about 2 minutes to read. If I was careful and the text didn't have weird characters, I could get close to 100% accuracy. The "learning curve" was almost zero - open the program, put the cursor where you want the text in your document and just hold the pen scanner like a pencil as you trace over the text. You do have to hold the scanner solidly to the text. I think people have an unrealistic idea of OCR - it will never be perfect. I think this is a great little gadget that is going to save me a lot of work. If a 60+ year old lady can do this with no problem, anyone ought to be able to.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on July 26, 2008
After reading some of the reviews I wasn't going to purchase but one said it worked. So I decided to give it a try, glad I did. Right out of the box it worked great on regular type on white or book paper. Doesn't do well with text on color paper. As long as the arrow is on the text line and it is moved at a steady pace it performs well. It has saved much time over typing or flat scan into a document. Well worth the cost. Learning curve 5 minutes.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on October 14, 2010
After reading the other reviews I was very hesitant to order this product. I took a chance and I'm glad I did. I installed the software on four computers all running a different OS. It worked just fine on Vista, Windows 7 and my daughters MacBook, but not at all with Windows XP. It would not even calibrate with XP. I scan text mostly for research and school. Within minutes I was able to obtain nearly 100% accruracy scanning directly into Word 2007 and MacIntosh Pages. Great little tool, now let's see how long it works? I'll update IF it fails. Update: I just registered the product online. Iris provided a free download patch that resolves the problem with Windows XP. I down loaded same on my home deasktop and viola, the pen scanner works there also. Update: I've been using this little jewel 7 months now without a problem.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 1, 2011
This pen has substantially changed the way I take notes on books I'm reading for school. If you have a study habit of taking notes as you read or after you read, this product is very effective for quickly placing direct quotes into whatever notetaking format you have set up for yourself. Take note I'm using this pen with a Mac... from other reviews listed here that may make a difference... I'm not sure. In Word on my Mac it is almost flawless at scanning with two exceptions: scanning text with previous pen underlining and very small font type sets. I haven't found a way to overcome the pen-underlining problem and this doesn't dissapoint me as a user (it is understandable). The very small-font problem can be overcome by being very steady on the scan stroke. To give you an idea of how well it works on plain text vs. underlined or highlighted text, here are three examples from Thomas Kuhn's "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions". 1. CLEAN TEXT SCAN: "Such changes, together with the controversies that almost always accompany them, are the defining charactertics of scientific revolutions." 2. PEN UNDERLINE TEXT SCAN: "Lentific fact and theoJ'.¥ are nID;.categQriill)[.§lPEable. exceiit .perhaps within asmgle tradition of norHX separable." 3. YELLOW HIGHLIGHTER TEXT SCAN: "Competition between segments 0£ the scientific community is the only historicaI process that ever actually results in the rejection 0£ Ile previously accepted theory or in the adoption of another." A final note on set up: it took me less than 5 minutes to figure out how to use it. Once you have a Word document open, the action is not really different from using a yellow highlighter. Time does improve your technique of scanning accurately, but there is virtually no learning curve once you plug the pen into your USB.
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