The idea behind the Roger Pen is simple: A discrete, wireless directional microphone that you place in your pocket or on a conference room table, piping sound directly into your hearing aid. In effect, it creates an environment free from background noise for people with impaired hearing.
What makes the Roger Pen special is its concealed microphone near the top of the pen. In your pocket, you make sure the microphone faces the chest of the speaker; you can even leave it at the speaker’s podium so that you can hear a presentation from the back of the room.
In “Conference Mode”, the device automatically focuses on the speaker regardless where the microphone is directed. We tried Conference Mode and we heard could hear people speaking very clearly in our headsets—super useful in a social setting.
The Roger Pen is a light and convenient accessory to bring around. The understated design was such that we didn’t mind carrying it around—the product takes the middle ground between a totally discrete hearing device, and something we didn’t mind holding or placing out in the open. On the light grey version we reviewed, fingerprints don’t show easily, giving it a clean and smooth appearance.
For the more technically inclined
The Roger Pen is clearly more suited to the technically inclined user. Connectivity is amazing—you can sync up with any Bluetooth-enabled listening devices you already have. It can also stream music and phone calls directly to your hearing aids. But that’s exactly the catch—you need to be comfortable with technologies like Bluetooth.
The Roger Pen has quite a number of small and large buttons along both sides of the receiver. On one side are standard buttons to answer phone calls; on the other is a set of buttons to turn on/off the Roger Pen, one to sync it to your wireless Bluetooth headset, and one to switch between microphone modes.
Unfortunately the buttons on the Pen are mushy, making it hard to know if your button pushes were registered. The smaller buttons may be hard on users with larger or less than dexterous fingers.
The Roger Pen also comes with a standard clip that secures snugly onto a shirt or pants pocket. The product is rechargeable via micro USB plug—just a minor quibble, but this means you have to bring an extra cable if you’re an iPhone user.
Extending the range
We also tested the Roger Pen with the Roger MyLink, a hearing aid receiver also from Phonak. The Pen connects to MyLink over WiFi, which allows it to transmit signals farther than Bluetooth, and is also less likely to be hindered by walls and moving obstacles like people. If you have an old hearing aid that uses a T-coil receiver, you also need the Roger MyLink to connect the Roger Pen to your hearing aid.
The Roger Pen is an accessory that clearly belongs to the age of the connected device. It goes beyond face-to-face conversations, working with various devices to make it relevant to the modern, digital lifestyle and workplace. If you’re a digital native, and already making full use of your smartphone’s capabilities, you’ll consider the Roger Pen well worth the price of entry.