Reading pens, also known as portable scanners, scanning pens, or pen translators, are clever devices that allow users to simply scan printed words with the pen and receive a translation or definition of those words.
In addition, many pen scanners have a text-to-speech function which allows the pen translator to read back the words or translations of the words that were scanned. There are a variety of pen readers available on the market, with some only providing Spanish/English and English/Spanish translation capabilities, and others providing more language options and features. Some models are even expandable with additional language databases.
But there is usually no need to have both a reading pen and an electronic language dictionary or translator. But in order to decide which one is right for you, it’s important to know first what it is you are going to use the device for. Both pieces of electronic equipment can be very useful as long as they are used in the right way.
Here are some of the differences to keep in mind when trying to decide between one or the other:
- Look up words by typing in a dictionary
- Larger size overall
- Sometimes don’t sync with computers
- Larger display that is easier to read
- Better translation quality
- More memory for additional databases
- Organizer functions often included
- Look up words by scanning with the pen
- Smaller overall size
- Uploads to a computer
- Smaller display
- Lower translation quality
- Small memory capabilities
- No organizer function included
With the differences between electronic dictionaries and reading pens outlined above, it’s easier to see which piece of equipment will serve you better. For example, if you really need to be able to have a better dictionary with more robust translation capabilities, it’s a no brainer that you would be better served by going with a full-fledged electronic translator.
On the other hand, if you are more interested in getting the basic meanings of words as you read text after text, it could be that a reading pen will be better for your needs.