A business necessity and probably the best available
Sep 19, 2008 (Updated Sep 19, 2008)
Review by jlockley
Rated a Very Helpful Review
Pros:Makes organizing conatacts a breeze, good interface, solid hardware, good quality OCR and image.
Cons:I wish they'd come out with a tiny one for travel.
The Bottom Line: Simplifies business by making contact organizing much faster. Carry your contacts on your Palm, I Phone or PDA rather than in a notebook. No more lost cards.
I have used Cardscan in my contact intensive business for years now. The system, which consists of a sturdy, six or seven inch scanner, a database with interface and ocr software (optical character recognition) which transforms the images of text on cards to characters and assigns them fields in the database.
Recommend this product?
The scanned data can then be exported to an IPhone, a PDA like a Palm Pilot or to a text delimited format which can be stored on a smart phone, eliminating the need for a card portfolio in your briefcase.
How it works: Cards are fed through the slot in the scanner. After they are scanned, the cards' images are processed into individual records which appear on a user interface.
The interface has several view options - a list view of the data from all cards scanned, an individual Roladex style view with a picture of a card at the bottom, or a split screen with the roladex card on top and the image of the card on the bottom.
Once cards are scanned you open the list view and check the cards one by one. There are occasional errors, and Cardscan has difficulty recognizing very artistic creations, but on the whole it is fairly accurate and time saving. You can scan the back of cards to go with the front (although no data will be entered), categorize your cards into either a set of preset categories or your own custom categories, make notes.
I have just done a trial run with a Neat Business Card scanner ( http://www0.epinions.com/content_445268135556 ) which makes me appreciate the cleverness of Cardscan.
Here's what it's got:
1) Amazingly Robust. It's hit the floor multiple times and scans along.
2) Very good if not perfect OCR. I don't have quite the latest software. It may have improved.
3) Very good image quality.
4) A flexible interface which allows you to size the screen and information to your needs, choose what you need, add custom fields to the data base.
5) Excellent data portability. Cardscan entries can be entered into custom folders, which can be transferred from one computer to another by a network or thumbstick.
6) Duplicate recognition: Very nice in keeping things in check.
7) Great search for names, comments, everything.
8) Category system allows for further organization of data.
9) Small footprint.
10) Multiple conversion options. Cardscan can interface with Palm, Act!, Excel and many more. Single cards, a selection of cards or an entire folder can be exported to any database or spread sheet you choose.
What's not perfect? A couple of things, which don't mean it doesn't get full credit for being one of the most useful office tools I have.
1) The default category set cannot be altered. The workaround for this, however, is to copy all of the cards from an existing file with the set you would like to a new file, then delete them. The categories remain.
2) Size. What got me to purchase the tiny Neat Scanner, which I cannot recommend, was the portability of the hardware without a power cable. It works off USB. It would be very nice to see Cardscan offer a pint sized scanner to function with the Pro software. for on the road.
3) Cannot scan back of card into database information. I suspect that this would be enormously complex, but at thimes it would be useful.
4) Registration nag.
Still, if you are still typing in client or supplier information, you need to look closely at this. I took an older model home and use it for the home improvement people and other non business related contacts. I am most happy with both.
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