IRISPen Express

A portable document scanner and boat anchor.

In theory, the IRISPen is a handheld scanner in chunky pen form, that will allow you to scan sections of books and save them as images or recognised text. As someone who sifts through a lot of information everyday, I was interested in an easy quick way of getting data from books and papers into a single and searchable database. There aren't many solutions on the Macintosh and (as of the time of writng) the IRISPen has been on special at the Apple store for an entirely reasonable price (circa 70 poounds). The reviews on the web are, frankly, mixed. For some people it worked exactly as advertised, others found the text recognition inadequate, for some it refused to work at all. So, with my eyes open, I bought one to try it out.

It installed easily. The pen worked fine ... once. Then it stopped working and nothing, nothing could fix it. Not a reboot, not deletion of preference files, not reinstallation, not downloading and installing the latest version of the software. In fact, the driver software was something out of Kafka. You set your default langauge as English. The software sets it to Spanish. You set it to English again. It sets it to Spanish. You set it to English. It takes, the popup information window saying "English". You breathe a sigh of relief and quit the software. Later you return to it. It says Spanish. The pen lights up and scans a page but nothing ever appears in the output window. The troubleshooting section of the manual helpfully suggests using the "calibrate" option on one of the menus, an option that was never enabled.

I sent it back. The Apple Store - to their credit - gave me a refund.

Verdict: avoid. Zero stars.