When I came across the C-Pen Reader at the FETC conference this past year, I knew that I had to request a review unit to test it out. After contacting the company, they approved my request and C-Pen Reader provided me a C-Pen Reader for the review. The opinions reflected in this blog are my own. I have been in the field of assistive technology for over 25 years and over these years have looked at a number of portable hand held reading solutions that promised to make the reading process easy and quick from scanning to reading text.
The first time you pick up the C-Pen Reader you will be amazed by it size and weight (1.7 oz.) and a bright OLED 256 x 64 display. The C-Pen Reader packs a lot of technology into a rather small package making it easy to pack in your backpack or brief case. The C-Pen Reader comes with a Quick Start Guide which gets you up and running quickly. In the box you will find the C-Pen, a USB to Micro USB cable (for charging and transfring files), ear buds, and a protective carrying case. The C-Pen Reader was already charged right out of the box and so I jumped in and turned it on. Pressing the Power button started up the C-Pen Reader and now I was ready to scan some text. Gliding the C-Pen Reader across a line of text, you will begin to experience just how fast the text is scanned into the device. Within seconds the line of text was being read with highlighting by the C-Pen Reader using a high quality American English text to speech engine. Using the navigation buttons-students could go back and have the text re-read as they see fit. There are lots of ways to customize the reading experience by jumping into the Menu system to control the speed (Slow, Medium, & Fast) and volume. The C-Pen Reader has an 3.5 mm audio jack which enables students to plug in their ear buds so that they can use the C-Pen Reader in a classroom, discreetly. One C-Pen Reader of the problems that I often found using handheld scanning pens was that the scanning algorithms and the optical character recognition engines were rather poor which often resulted in devices speaking gibberish. This was not the case with the C-Pen Reader-the scanning was fast and accurate making it a pleasant reading experience. As long as you have a steady hand you will find the accuracy to be excellent. The C-Pen Reader can be set up for Right or Left handed scanning making it easier to customize the scanning direction resulting in a better experience. The C-Pen Reader also has a built-in dictionary (Collins 10th Edition) support allowing students to scan and look up words they are unfamiliar with.
The C-Pen Reader has a number of other features that allow students to use the device as a voice recorder for creating voice notes in a MP3 file format that can be listened to and managed on the scanning pen. The C-Pen Reader comes with 1 GB of storage so there is plenty of room to store audio and voice notes. This feature can come in handy for students who need to record their ideas or lectures and then transfer them to their computer. When the C-Pen Reader is plugged into a Mac or PC it mounts as a drive, making it easy to transfer audio and text files.
Students may also find using the C-Pen Reader useful as a means to scan text from articles and books directly into a word processor. By plugging the C-Pen Reader into a computer, you can put it into a keyboard mode which inputs any text you scan directly to the application that is open. Students will find this a great feature when they need to do research or to place the text into a word processor with Text-To-Speech capabilities. Teachers can also use this feature to pre-scan text into a File on the C-Pen Reader device that the student can open when they need access to the text in the classroom.
The C-Pen Reader packs a lot of features into a small package that students will find easy to navigate. For students that have been diagnosed with dyslexia or a reading disability the C-Pen Reader offers a great portable reading solution. The C-Pen Reader offers students a way to access text in a small discreet package that can be easily used in the classroom. I would see this an ideal solution for students who need to access tests, worksheets, and short reading passages. The C-Pen Reader gives students the opportunity to access text independently in the classroom with a light and powerful tool. In future releases I would like to be able to change the size of the font that is displayed on the C-Pen Reader and for classroom use it wold be great if teachers could manage a set of these devices that would enable them to easily pre-load text into a classrooms set of C-Pen Readers.