Wouldn't it be nice to scan text from genealogy books or papers directly into your computer? The next time you visit a library, a courthouse, or a genealogy society, you might want to scan your new findings directly instead of making photocopies or manually transcribing everything. In the case of handwritten documents, a scanned image of the original document could help to create the best source citation of all.
It may not be practical to carry a standard flatbed computer scanner on your next trip. The scanners that you purchase at local computer stores also may not be suitable for scanning information found in bound volumes, especially those oversized ledger books that we deal with so often in genealogy research. The C-Pen may be the solution you are looking for.
This device looks like an oversized pen with a cable protruding that plugs into your computer's USB port. To use it in a library or archive, you will need a Windows laptop computer. There are no batteries involved because this scanner obtains its power directly from the USB connection. It scans one line of information at a time. You manually move the device across a document, and an image of that line is transferred to your computer. You then pause briefly at the end of the line before going to the next line and scanning that one as well. Over and over, you move down the page one line at a time, scanning as much information as you wish.
The C-Pen 20 scans text, numbers, and small images from printed or hand-written sources. The data is sent line-by-line into your Windows computer. It should work especially well with any laptop computer.
This small device is easy to use. You can open your favorite genealogy program, word processor, or most any other program that accepts text and image input, and then find the individual's record that you seek. You simply move the cursor to the point where you wish to enter text and then start scanning. Scanning text is similar to using a highlighter: you sweep the C-Pen from left to right at moderate speed. The text from the page instantly appears wherever the cursor on your screen is located, so you can use this device with just about any Windows program, including Word, Excel, or your favorite genealogy program. If the data you scan is typeset information, the included OCR software converts it to text. Handwritten information is maintained as an image
The C-Pen's manufacturer claims that the overall speed of scanning is higher with the C-Pen 20 than that of a desktop scanner. In contrast, scanning with a desktop scanner is a time consuming process that includes loading the page, scanning, interpreting data, and finally transferring it into your application. C-Pen 20 allows you to immediately scan the text segment into the application you need, inserting it at the cursor's point. However, I would suggest that scanning multiple pages of information, one line at a time, will still be a tedious process. The C-Pen 20 excels at situations where you need only a few paragraphs.
The C-Pen 20 obviously is useful for genealogy purposes, but it has many other uses as well. It will scan business cards, columns of numbers, and much, much more. While the C-Pen 20 will not damage the binding of a book as much as most flatbed scanners, it still will produce a bit of wear on the page. I would never use it on delicate materials of any sort. It also will not scan material published on microfilm or microfiche.
The C-Pen 20 is compatible with Windows 98, 98se, ME, 2000 or XP. The handheld scanner is not limited to scanning English documents. It also works with Armenian (Eastern, Western, Grabar), Bulgarian, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Danish, Dutch (The Netherlands and Belgium), Estonian, Finnish, French, German (new and old spelling), Greek, Hungarian, Italian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Norwegian (Nynorsk and Bokmal), Polish, Portuguese (Portugal and Brazil), Romanian, Russian, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Tatar, Turkish and Ukrainian. Whew!
The C-Pen 20 has a "street price" in the United States of about $140 and about £85 in the U.K. Many merchants may discount that price. It is available online from the company's web site at http://www.cpenusa.com, rootsbooks.com, and from many other online and traditional computer stores.