The C-PEN ReaderPen is a portable scanner that reads aloud any text in a natural voice. As its name suggests, the scanner is shaped like a pen and is roughly the length of an ordinary pen. It is wider than a pen which gives a nice amount of space for a small screen. This small screen displays what is scanned by the user and this can be read out or stored. I am reviewing this product for the purposes of primary school use. (If you want one, you can enter our competition at the bottom of this review)
First things, first – is it any good at its job? The quick answer is a definite yes. It simply works. All you do is push the pen down and slide it over a line in almost any book and the pen reads it out.
However, there’s more to this pen than that and in this review, I’m going to go through some of its powerful features, possible uses in the classroom, and, then, because it is a review after all, a few recommendations specifically focusing on primary school usage. I’ve summed most of this up in the video below.
I tested out this pen on 3 children’s books to see if the C-Pen ReaderPen could handle them. To be honest, there wasn’t much of a contest – the pen scanned and read Mr. Jelly without any issues. Gorilla by Anthony Browne was also no match for it. I thought that maybe the bigger print in it might cause some problems but it was perfect. However, Dear Greenpeace did usher in one small problem – some of the text in it was not in a serif or sans-serif (that’s geeky for normal typed print) and the C-Pen ReaderPen was unable to read it. This isn’t exactly a limitation because it would be very difficult for a scanner to be able to read and convert any text that isn’t in a regular font. Anyway, for our purposes, there’s no point in getting it to read children’s handwriting. However, for any regular print book, the C-Pen ReaderPen read out every word beautifully.
This obviously is very good news for children that struggle with reading. Children could scan whole swathes of text to be read back to them, especially children with literacy needs. However, even for competent readers, the C-Pen ReaderPen can read out single words without a problem. This might be useful for higher achieving pupils that might be wanting to read at higher levels and this pen could help them read more independently.
The C-Pen ReaderPen also has an in-built dictionary. It uses one of two English dictionaries and they are both very in depth in their definitions. If you scan a word, it reads out the exact definition that might be found in the dictionary. Sometimes this can be very long, particularly for verbs. While this might be ok for adult readers, it can be very wordy for younger readers. I’d recommend that a simpler dictionary might be utilised for younger users – something along the lines of: [WORD] [Short Definition] [Example of use in a sentence]. Obviously for words that have more than one meaning, this can be difficult but I’m sure there are ways around it.
Other features of the pen include scanning to file, a voice recorder and the ability to read in French and Spanish as well as English. All of these are useful for primary school kids. For example, one could record a child’s homework using the voice recorder or maybe some instructions to a parent to help with what’s happening in class. Scanning to a file is useful for sharing text though one needs to be careful about copyright. For children who might be learning French or Spanish, one has an in-built reader that can be used to learn pronunciation.
Overall, the C-Pen ReaderPen is an amazing piece of kit in a tiny package. If you watch the video above, you’ll see how good it is. It also isn’t hugely expensive for what it does – around €250-€300 – which I think is a more than reasonable price for its power. I highly recommend it.
If you’d like your very own C-Pen ReaderPen, simply enter your name and email address in the form below. We will pull a random name from a virtual hat and send it on to the lucky winner. Just so you know, by entering the competition, your email address will be shared with ScanningPens.com for the purposes of their own marketing. Please do not enter the competition if you don’t wish for them to contact you. If you are already on the Mash.ie mailing list, you will have to enter this competition separately.