Learn all about scanning pens vs. scanning apps, their pros and cons, and which tool is best for you.
Scanning pens vs. scanning apps: What are the pros and cons?
People with learning disabilities often have reading difficulties. Fortunately, improving reading comprehension can help make studying easier and faster. Technologies like Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and smartphones have done wonders in the field of accessibility.
Using the right tech can equip people with user-friendly assistive aids for learning, entertainment, and leisure. Scanning pens and scanning apps are two of these helpful modern technologies.
Although they perform similar tasks, their usability and execution differ. Understanding how they work is crucial to selecting the best technology for your needs.
What are scanning pens?
A scanning pen or reading pen is a device about the size of a highlighter. It uses optical character recognition or OCR technology to take pictures of written text and turn it into digital text.
Users can edit, translate, or have the text read aloud based on the scanner software behind the pen. This software is one of the most important features, especially for kids or students with dyslexia. A USB cable is generally enough to quickly upload these digital files.
The pros and cons of scanning pens
Stand-alone scanning pens have advantages and disadvantages.
Discrete – Reading pens usually have sleek, modern designs. They’re easy to use and conceal, and some even come with headphone jacks for read-aloud applications. The design makes it simple to use without alerting others of having reading difficulties.
Portable – The small size and light weight allow users to carry scanning pens in their pockets. They can take the pens anywhere and use them in various situations.
Integrated text to speech – Pens with built-in text to speech improve reading comprehension in people with reading difficulties like dyslexia.
Accuracy – As technology advances, scanning pens can recognize words with greater accuracy. That means people with dyslexia can read more complex texts on the fly.
Requires strong motor skills to use – Each pen requires a steady hand and a bit of skill when pulling it across paragraphs and images. Good motor skills are necessary to get more use out of scanning pens.
Issues with some fonts and non-Latin alphabets – Not all fonts or alphabets are compatible with modern scanning pens. Examples of alphabets that may cause problems include non-Latin characters like Cyrillic and Japanese kanji.
What are scanning apps?
Scanning apps are apps you can install on mobile devices. Like scanning pens, they rely on OCR technology to recognize typed and written words. The apps can scan hard-copy texts and convert them into digital text like Microsoft Word docs.
The pros and cons of scanning apps
To better understand which you should choose between pens and apps, here are the pros and cons of scanning apps.
Accessible to anyone with a smartphone – Anyone can use a scanning app if they have a smartphone. There’s no reason to buy secondary devices to assist in reading complex texts. The biggest advantage is that you can use apps designed for Apple iPhones and iPads, Android, or Windows devices. This eliminates compatibility issues.
Cost-effective – Some scanning apps are free, which isn’t the case with scanning pens.
Integrated text to speech – Many scanning apps come with built-in text to speech technology. They contain entire libraries of voices and enable users to personalize the narration.
Fewer features than scanning pens – Not every scanning app has a wide range of features. Traditional scanning apps perform only a few tasks very well. Thus, users may need advanced text to speech readers to improve their reading comprehension.
Not usable by those who struggle with smartphones – People who struggle with mobile devices may not find scanning apps very helpful. Some may require additional assistive technologies to benefit from using the app.
OCR tech relies on working camera – Good quality cameras are necessary to unlock the full potential of OCR technology. Without it, users can’t scan the text.
Speechify – Use text to speech on your desktop or mobile device
There’s no right or wrong answer when it comes which reader pens and apps you should use. Each user may have particular needs that one device fulfills best. However, text to speech readers may be the ultimate solution for improving reading comprehension.
Speechify is a text to speech reader available on most desktop and mobile devices. It works on iOS and Android smartphones, Windows, and various browsers. Similar to a scanning app, Speechify uses OCR software to convert physical text into digital text in multiple file formats for note-taking ease.
However, Speechify goes above and beyond to generate human-like narrations using artificial intelligence algorithms. It has many voices and accents and supports various languages, improving accessibility to a global user base.
With its controllable playback speed, reading accuracy, and scanning speed, Speechify can help everyone, from students to people who want to experience easier reading. The app can read anything, from tutorials to Excel spreadsheets to emails and study materials. Additionally, its uptime only depends on your device’s battery life.
Are scanner apps as good as a real scanner?
Actual scanners create high-quality digital documents compared to scanner apps. However, a traditional scanner does very little to improve people’s reading comprehension without assistance from text to speech apps. Document scanners are better to back up files, but apps can improve workflow due to their ease of use and portability.
What are the pros and cons of optical character recognition?
OCR can potentially digitize any text and make it easier to read, edit, and store. However, OCR systems aren’t always accurate and can make mistakes, especially regarding handwritten texts. It also depends on camera quality and the legibility of the physical text.
What are some good scanner apps?
Omnipage Ultimate, OCR Scan-Image to text, and OnlineOCR are quality, user-friendly scanner apps. However, many users may prefer Speechify as a complete text to speech solution when it comes to scanning and processing text from physical documents.
What are some good scanning pens?
There’s no shortage of scanning pens on Amazon and similar websites. The C-Pen Reader, ScanMarker Air, and others can help users read complex texts aloud and digitize physical documents.