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CardScan Executive

>> Friday, January 9, 2009

The CardScan Executive package combines CardScan 8, the latest software version, with the current model CardScan 800c scanner. The CardScan 800c, a 300 pixels per inch color scanner, is about half the size of a typical portable scanner for letter size pages. It weighs 10 ounces and measures 1.75 by 6.5 by 3.7 inches (HWD). That makes it big enough to take cards up to four inches wide, but small enough so it doesn't need much room on your desk.

Setup is as easy as it gets: Install the software and connect to a USB port. There isn't even a power cord to worry about the scanner gets its power over the USB connection. The CardScan software remains the main attraction. CardScan 8 is easy to use and noteworthy for how well it parses the text on business cards into the right fields and then recognizes the text.

Unfortunately, the scanner has no automatic document feeder (ADF). This means you have to feed cards manually, one at a time. But at least you don't have to wait for the software to recognize each one before you feed the next, as with some business card scanners. Instead, you can scan the entire batch, and then choose the Process command (or you can save that step for later).

When you process the scanned images, CardScan recognizes all the newly scanned cards at once and marks them as unverified. You can look at a list of unverified cards at your convenience and work your way through them, checking and correcting each entry, and then marking it as verified. CardScan shows you the scanned image along with the recognized text, making it easy to check the information.

One other nice trick not related to business cards is that if you select a name and address in an email and drag it to an open CardScan window, CardScan will read the text and insert it as a contact entry. You can use CardScan itself as a database program to let you search for names and phone numbers, but you can also send the data to or synchronize with most widely used contact managers including Act! (not including Premium versions), GoldMine Standard, Lotus Notes, and Microsoft Outlook as well as with Palm and Windows based PDAs.

In my tests with Outlook 2003, the synchronization worked without problems. One other feature that you may want to take advantage of is CardScan's At Your Service, which lets you back up your CardScan data to the Web, access it from any Web browser, and synchronize your local copy with the version on the Web.

In effect, this enables you to keep a local copy of your data on two different computers, both of them synchronized with the online version. At Your Service will also optionally send periodic requests to everyone in your database, asking each contact to update his or her information. (This is a service I've been on the receiving end of and prefer to opt out of.)

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