pen scanner is a device which scans an image, machine printed or handwritten text and it takes advantage of the Optical Character Recognition technology (OCR) in order to convert the scanned data into machine encoded text, therefore making it available for easy editing (the data can be immediately loaded in a text editor), automatic translation to another language, text-to-speech applications (useful for visually impaired and blind users, as well as for people that suffer from dyslexia – it is also a key element for A.I. development) and overall or for a be better preservation for the data (such as old books, which would require significant more time and work to survive the passage of time).
The ScanMarker Air is the second available consumer-type pen scanner from and it was created to be a simple-to-use, intuitive device that can take away the burden of retyping the text from physical documents (as the base function), but which also supports the text-to-voice feature and it can scan barcodes (as additional functions).
Usually, pen scanners are small and lightweight devices which can easily fit in your pocket and the ScanMarker Air follows the same ergonomic design, featuring a rectangular case which looks similar to a normal highlighter marker (it measures 5.5 x 1.4 x 1.0 inches and weighs 2.1 ounces – so it also feels like one), covered by a black matte finish (it won’t retain fingerprints) and, on the bottom, towards the front side, the case loses a bit of width to ensure a comfortable position for the fingers and a good grip.
On top of the pen scanner, next to the logo, there are two LED lights, one for the showing an active Bluetooth connection (a blue LED), while the other shows the status of the battery (a green LED) and towards the narrow end of the pen, there’s a microUSB port used for charging the device (not type-C). After you remove the cap, there’s a small transparent section which protrudes from the device and, next to it, there’s a small laser (Linear CMOS 128 pixels). Unlike USB connected pen scanners, the ScanMarker Air uses Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE 4.0) to connect to a computer or a hand-held device and the battery will last up to 10 hours of continuous scanning on a single charge, the battery should last up to 7 hours of low to medium use (if you don’t have the time to let the battery charge up to an optimum level, you can use the provided USB cable and connect directly to your computer).
One of the main advantages that the ScanMarker Air has over its competitors is the very fast scanning ability, featuring a scanning rate of up to 8 inches per second and a recognition speed of up to 3000 characters per minute (it is advisable to scan quickly and in a smooth fashion, rather than slowly for the pen to work accurately and, in order to get the best results start a few spaces before the first character).
Furthermore, the optical resolution is 350 DPI, the character size ranges between 6 and 24pt, and the field of view is 0.4 inches (make sure the text you intend to scan is in the centre of the tip before you start the scanning process). Some shortcomings that I could point out are the fact that the ScanMarker Air will have a harder time scanning larger fonts (such as titles with a bigger font style), it skips apostrophes and hyphens (leaves a blank space) and there isn’t a way to delete the freshly scanned words directly from the pen (you have to go into the app and manually remove them).
Fortunately, the ScanMarker Air will scan mathematical formulas and handwritten text and add them as an image.
To use the ScanMarker Air, you need to download the app/software, install it on your preferred device and activate it with the provided code (it will work with most of the popular operating systems, such as Windows, Mac OS X, Android and iOS). From here, you can either choose to scan directly to a Word document or to the ScanMarker app (the pen can also send the scanned data directly to a cloud service of your choice), and you can choose between different scan types: text, single word, image, numbers, table or barcode. This gets us to the next point of interest, the ability to scan barcodes: the scanner needs to be held differently because the barcode lines are vertical, so you either need to keep the tip horizontally or slightly inclined, but not parallel to get a successful scan.
Lastly, the ScanMarker Air can translate the text into a different language, which can then be read back to you using the Text-to-voice feature (it has over 40 languages available – but you can purchase more).