Pocket Digital Scanners
Carrying a pen and paper is so last century. If you are in a position to needs lots of notes copied from books or other documents, as many people are in school or any kind of research, then you can save a whole lot of time and effort by just scanning the page digitally.
And believe it or not, you can get scanners these days that can fit in your pocket and are about the size of a pen.
What makes this a better option than simple using a flatbed scanner to scan an entire page, is that these text scanners use Optical Character Recognition (OCR) technology to read the text into a word processor format for further formatting and editing. Using a flat bed scanner just takes a "picture" of the text, and doesn't allow you to use it in any manner. Well, that is the case with typical scanners. You CAN buy flat bed scanners with OCR abilities, but they are quite expensive, and not as fun or easy to use as a portable pen scanner.
The InfoScan is the size of a fat highlighter, and works in exactly the same way. You run the tip of the scanner over each line of text, just like you would if you were highlighting it. It can connect to your PC via a USB cable, or transfer the information wirelessly to a PDA or even a phone. This small device only weighs 3oz and runs on 2 AAA batteries. It has 2MB of memory which can hold 1,000 pages of plain text. The scanner can read text between 6 and 22 point font size, which would basically cover any typical text found in books. Costs: $169
There are various models of the C-Pen, with some that connect to your desktop in order to be used, and others that are portable. I'll look at a portable one (the 600C) for comparison here. The C-Pen weighs 3oz and takes 2 AAA batteries. You can store up to 1,500 pages of scanned text and it connects to your computer via a serial cable. Like the QuickLink, this scanner works like a highlighter, being drawn over each word of text to scan. Cost: $139
A more sophisticated portable scanner comes from Planon, with the DocuPen. There are several models, with some that can scan colour and some that are just black & white. But the key to the DocuPen is that it scans and entire page with one scan, not a line by line scan like the two previously mentioned scanners. The DocuPen is shaped like a pen, but the scanner runs along the length of the pen not just the tip. You run the entire pen across the page to scan a full page of text (with images) in about 5 seconds. It can store 100s of pages and uses a USB cable to connect to your computer, and it is powered by a lithium ion battery for longer life between charges. Cost: starting at $99 for a refurbished basic model, going up to over $300 for the colour professional model.
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