SuperPen Professional

Optical Character Recognition is an under-appreciated technology. From its earliest manifestation in special scanners through which you passed a printed page to modern multifunction devices with OCR built in, it’s the easiest method for transposing text from print to electronic form.

The Super Pen Professional is an OCR tool you hold in your hand like a pen and draw across printed text. The nib is a sensor that reads the text as it passes and saves it to a soft copy file in the onboard memory for transfer to your computer later. The Australian distributor claims the SuperPen holds the equivalent of 1000 pages of printed text, but it’s not a claim you’re ever likely to test in full.

The reason is because while the SuperPen is a great product and works as well as is claimed, scanning text one line at a time is a task not everyone will make time for. Each time you scan a line of text, the SuperPen processes it and you’re presented with the text you just scanned on the LCD screen for proofing and editing as necessary.

If you waited for the SuperPen to assemble each line before continuing, it would take you less time to simply retype the text you want. The SuperPen’s saving grace is that you can scan, lift and scan again in quick succession. The reading takes place in the background as the SuperPen processes the last line, so while it might look like everything’s frozen, you end up with your entire paragraph intact at the end — quite a bit faster than simply typing it out.

Installing the software on the PC wasn’t as simple as it could be, and it wasn’t very clear it had even worked owing to the several error messages throughout the process. Hoping for the best, The West connected the pen to the PC via the supplied USB cable and were pleasantly surprised to see the text files we’d created from scans show up without a hitch.

Saved in their proprietary format, you simply resave each file as a .txt or .doc file and the document has leapt from page to screen like magic.

The product website says the OCR technology is 97% effective based on what it calls ‘standard’ font size average. The SuperPen is most comfortable with very clean serif or san serif fonts of a usual book or magazine size — some bigger headlines we tried failed to translate.

It also scans address book entries that you can export to your email client, weblinks, and has onboard dictionaries for several professional disciplines. You can add applications to the SuperPen, such as the inbuilt dictionary tool — Quicktionary — that not only gives you the meaning of a word you’ve scanned but can speak it aloud so you have the correct pronunciation.

In a world where more information is moving to screens, OCR will be less in demand. It’s still relevant for those occasions where you need a handful of words or paragraphs out of a magazine, but whether those occasions will justify a few hundred dollars depends on your circumstances.

Full client and publication list:

  • 3D Artist
  • APC
  • Auscam
  • Australian Creative
  • Australian Macworld
  • Australian Way (Qantas)
  • Big Issue
  • Black Velvet Seductions
  • Black+White
  • Bookseller & Publisher
  • Box Magazine
  • Brain World
  • Business News
  • Business NSW
  • Campaign Brief
  • Capture
  • Cleo
  • Cosmos
  • Cream
  • Curve
  • Daily Telegraph
  • Dark Horizons
  • Dazed and Confused
  • Desktop
  • DG
  • Digital Media
  • Disney Magazine
  • DNA Magazine
  • Empire
  • Empty Magazine
  • Famous Monsters of Filmland
  • Fast Thinking
  • FHM UK
  • Film Stories
  • Filmink
  • Follow Gentlemen
  • Geek Magazine
  • Good Reading
  • Good Weekend
  • GQ
  • How It Works
  • Hydrapinion
  • Inside Film
  • Loaded
  • M2 Magazine
  • Marie Claire Australia
  • Marketing
  • Maxim Australia
  • Men's Style
  • Metro
  • Moviehole
  • MSN
  • Nine To Five
  • Paranormal
  • PC Authority
  • PC Powerplay
  • PC Update
  • PC User
  • PC World
  • Penthouse
  • People
  • Pixelmag
  • Popular Science
  • Post Magazine
  • Ralph
  • Reader's Digest
  • ScienceNetwork WA
  • SciFiNow
  • Scoop
  • Scoop Traveller
  • Seaside Observer
  • SFX
  • Sydney Morning Herald
  • The Australian
  • The Retiree
  • The Sun Herald
  • The West Australian
  • TimeOut
  • Total Film
  • Video Camera
  • Video&Filmmaker
  • Writing Magazine
  • Xpress
  • Zoo