The IrisPen is, on the face of it, a nifty tool. Rather then laboriously type or scrawl notes from the printed page, you simply swipe the handheld scanner across the text and it's imported to the app of your choice. You can scan words in seven languages and they'll magically transform into English before you can say allez vite! In theory, anyway.
There's little wrong with the way the IrisPen is put together. The scanner's small, light and well built, while installation is straightforward - with one caveat. A wizard helps install the software, and hooking up the pen is as simple as attaching its lengthy cable to a USB 2.0 port.
But at this point you can select only two languages, one of which must be English. If you wish to translate, say, French and German into English, you'll have to reinstall everything - a bit of an oversight.
Using the IrisPen is a cinch. Mostly. Fire up your favoured application, grab the scanner and off you go. It can even be set up for left-handers or to scan bar codes, and there's a text-to-voice facility. But there are practical difficulties.
If you're taking succinct notes from a clear, single-sheet source, you're laughing. But try to grab long paragraphs from the pages of a thick book - or on any uneven surface - and be prepared to do some serious onscreen editing. It's the same with translation. Short sentences are scanned, imported and translated in seconds, while longer passages are garbled - sometimes beyond comprehension.