Standalone reading machines

These purpose built devices combine all the components into one standalone machine. As they have been specifically designed, they tend to be very easy to use with little or no set up and are perfect for someone who has little knowledge of computers. These machines can be quicker overall at turning a document into speech in comparison to a computer as they need less time to start up.

Examples of standalone reading machines

Eye Pal Solo

Eye pal solo - standalone reading machine

This is probably one of the simplest reading machines on the market. It is made up of a solid base which is just larger than an A4 page and a camera held on an arm about 30cm above it. To read a document, simply place it under the camera and it will automatically begin reading using synthetic speech. If you want to change to a new document, simply remove and place the new document in its place. You can also pause playback by simply waving your hand under the camera then repeat to start again. Manufactured by Humanware and there are a number of models available with prices starting at approximately £1,500.


The ScannaR looks very similar to a flat bed scanner, being just a little thicker. This is less automated than the Eye Pal Solo but still only has a few buttons. It has a built-in hard drive to store scanned documents and a microphone to add your voice title to each so they can be found easily at a later date. It is also compatible with the BrailleNote and VoiceNote notetakers so you can, if you wish, read the document in braille rather than listening to the synthetic speech. Manufactured by Humanware with prices starting at approximately £1,500


The CleaReader is very similar in form and features to the ScannaR. It has a number of buttons which are raised and each shaped differently to help make finding the correct one easier. It has a built-in hard drive to store scanned pages, but you can also save scanned pages to a USB memory stick so they can be uploaded on to a computer. You can also add a number of additional languages. Manufactured by Optelec with prices starting at approximately £1,695.00.

Poet BE

Very similar to the ScannaR but one edge of the reading surface is angled, so that it can read into the spine of thick books without them having to be opened to a point where they could be damaged. Available from Pamtrad Customs.


Similar in functionality to the ScannaR, but operated via a separate keypad. Available from Visionaid Technologies.

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