I’ve gotten some really interesting and insightful comments from people related to my post about the Pleco Chinese dictionary for the iPod, iPhone, and iPad. I think the points they make are very worthwhile to read, and are important for anyone interested in some of the Add-ons for Pleco that I either did not try or felt were not worthwhile. I didn’t want those comments to get lost underneath that mammoth post, so I’ve decided to make a whole entry devoted to them. As other comments come in, I’ll likely add them in here as well. Bolding was added by me for emphasis.

The first comes from Shane, who has used the Document Reader and also comments on the “Basic Bundle” of apps that is available:

In my opinion, the built in document reader is fantastic. Helps me to read those text messages that I just can’t quite figure out.

Also, the full-screen handwriting is MUCH better than Apple’s built-in version. It gives you quite a bit more leeway as far as making mistakes while writing (stroke order, missing stroke, etc) or recognizing sloppy cursive writing. The basic bundle is totally worth the $35 or so that it costs.

I did recently see my friend using it, and it looks really nice, especially having the entire phone’s surface to work on. How this works on the iPad, I’m not sure, but I imagine that is also a good experience. After his comment, I’m planning on getting the basic bundle.

Next is a comment from Max:

I wanted to write earlier, but never got around to it. At any rate, I don’t think you’re giving the character OCR enough credit. Writing a character to look it up is fine once in a while, but for example when I read a book I circle all unknown characters and once in a while I sit down and add the 30 or so new ones to my flashcards – in that case it’s quite bothersome and takes a long time to write so much and it’s very easy to just hold my camera over them and instantly see the pinyin so I can write them on my computer.

Judging from the screenshots, you’re holding the camera far too close to the book. I have found that, unintuitively, the software works much better and more reliably when the characters are smaller. Give it a try.

I have tried it, and Max is right—it does work better with the camera further away. After adjusting the little green box to fit in the character you’re focusing on, it picks it up a lot easier and, I’ve also noticed, it’s much easier to hold still (or at least, still enough that it keeps focus on the character). I believe they had a trial version of it available, so it would be nice to give it a shot before you buy it. However, after Max’s comments I’ve been playing around with it a bit more and it’s certainly more convenient sometimes, especially as writing some characters can be a bit tedious if Apple’s handwriting recognition doesn’t catch it (especially for complex characters).

Hopefully with these comments, in addition to the original post, has provided a much more well-rounded view and given you a good idea of varying opinions on the app.


Another comment from Max, were he offers up some tips for using the OCR to its full advantages:

Oh, also, the OCR works not only for characters but also for words. I usually use a ~4 characters wide box, focus on the word/character and hit the ‘pause’ button in the middle. Then you can just touch the OCR’d character/word and the definition pops up. Very convenient (and by using the pause button you don’t have to try to keep the phone still while reading Smile )

Of course I jumped on the opportunity to give it a shot and it does work pretty beautifully. It helps for searching idioms (the text I chose to look up to see if it’d catch them). So, again, give it a shot, it’s a lot of fun to use, actually, and to show off to your friends if you’re into that sort of thing Smile with tongue out