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Visioneer RoadWarrior

>> Friday, January 9, 2009

The hardware side of the RoadWarrior package is a 10.6 ounce, 600 pixel per inch scanner that measures just 1.5 by 11.4 by 2 inches (HWD). That's wide enough to scan letter and legal size paper but small enough to pack in your notebook bag, inside its own soft carrying case. Like most portable scanners, it gets power over a USB cable, so once you've installed the software, setting it up is literally as easy as plugging in the cable.

Some of the bundled programs are clearly handy for a business user on the go. NewSoft Presto! BizCard 5 lets you scan and store business cards in your contact list almost as quickly as you collect them and it does a reasonably good job of both recognizing the text on business cards and putting it in the right fields. Even better, you can add any notes you like, while the reason you took the card is still fresh in your mind.

Similarly, Google Earth will let you get a map, directions, and nearby points of interest while traveling (assuming you have an Internet connection). Other programs in the mix aren't obviously tied to travel needs. The list includes Nuance's ScanSoft PaperPort 11 Standard for document management Nuance's ScanSoft OmniPage 14 for optical character recognition (OCR) Google Desktop for indexing and searching for files on your hard drive and OmniPage Indexer (or, more precisely, a link for downloading OmniPage Indexer).

Which works with OmniPage to recognize text in image files and add that text to the Google Desktop index the result being that you can use Google Desktop to find a particular image file by searching for text in the file. The key word in the phrase above is that these programs aren't obviously tied to travel needs.

In fact, one of the RoadWarrior's strengths is the way the programs combine to create a less than obvious solution to the perennial issue of tracking expense receipts.

Visioneer sees the RoadWarrior as addressing the same audience as NeatReceipts Scanalizer, which combines a portable scanner similar to the RoadWarrior with a completely different approach to software.

The NeatReceipts software is most notable for including a receipts manager, which is actually a database program. It's designed to scan receipts, recognize the text, and insert the text in the database. You can then use the data to generate expense reports and tax forms, as well as export the data to a file format that your accounting program can import. The primary attraction of NeatReceipts is that, in theory at least, it lets you throw out your paper receipts and manage your expenses on your computer.

To take full advantage of it, however, you need to know things like how to use your word processor's mail merge feature to process data from NeatReceipts to create an expense report in the format your accounting department wants. Though RoadWarrior takes a completely different approach, its purpose is the same to free the traveler from having to track a blizzard of paper.

With RoadWarrior, you manage your scanned receipts with a combination of PaperPort, OmniPage Indexer, and Google Desktop. Scan the receipts into PaperPort and you can combine related receipts into PaperPort stacks. You can also recognize the text with PaperPort or OmniPage Indexer and then use Google Desktop to search for individual receipts or groups of receipts as needed.

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