By Terry Currier
There are times that you wish you had a scanner but of course you didnít. The times youíre away from home such as at school, the library or someoneís office. Even if you happen to have your notebook with you, and by chance a scanner, where would you plug it in?
It is for these times that Planon developed the DocuPen Scanner. Small, and mobile? Heck it is 8 inch wide to fit standard paper and less than an inch wide. It only weighs 2.2 ounces batteries, and carrying case included. It is powered by four 1.55v silver oxide coin cell batteries. Planon includes ScanSoftís PaperPort 8.0 SE with Textbridge OCR software. It's Twain-compliant, it attaches easily to your computer via USB. It will store up to 100 pages at 200 dpi before you have to download it.
Donít think you will be able to go out right away and start scanning everything you need. You can, but I guarantee you the first 20 wonít be very good. It takes a bit of practice to get it right. I have done now about 30 scans and no, I donít get them all perfect. I notice I always get the top third perfect then my hand will slide or go too slow. That was (and is) something I had to overcome. I thought going slow would make a better scan, but with practice I found I did better with a quick slide. To begin the scanning you push down on the button in the center. You also must hold it down during the scan. You want to hold it upright not an angle and slide it down what you want to scan. The sliding activates the green scanning light. You know you are doing it correctly when the green light stays on. If you go too fast or slow there are some LED lights on the left tip that will blink.
There really was much frustration at first since I did not get the right scan speed. It is not just the speed, that can caused trouble. To scan you press the center button once to scan at 100dpi (Dots Per Inch), or press it twice to scan at 200dpi. There were a few times that I thought I did a good job, and even looking at the scan in PaperPort it did not look bad. Yet, putting it through the Textbridge OCR so I can use it in a document was like throwing it away. I donít want to be unkind to Textbridge since I know they have a good reputation, but here it just did terrible. I then realized it is not just Textbridge it is the scan that is hard for it to read.
I than did a scan at 200 DPI which it could read, and come much closer to the original. Still it was not good enough. I could tell it was not good enough since I still had the original in front of me. So I tried something different which admittedly not everyone will be able to do. After downloading it from the pen I exported it to a file (tif format). I then took it into my Caere OmniPage Pro 10 OCR software. Here is the difference - with Textbridge it just runs it through the OCR and presents it to you with ďthis is the best I could do.Ē With the OnmiPage it reads the scan and presents a window to you asking if you can it read, and where it is having a problem. That way I could see the scanned document (again at 200 DPI) and was able to figure out what to put in.
Scanning is only black and white for now. I think what is needed is for Planon to put on an on/off switch. Forcing the user to keep the button press makes it awkward to hold down and scan evenly. Actually I also think they should make it wider about one inch so that the scanner would be easier to hold steady. Put the scanning light between two sets of rollers to maker sure it is steady and level. A little bigger but it is still smaller than anything else. It is the difference in the ease of riding a bicycle as opposed to a unicycle. Who I thought would really love this would be a Genealogist wanting to scan in some document he just came across and has to have. It is very good if you want just pictures. After all many scans are just 72 DPI, but for scanning for OCR it needs to be a higher resolution.
Cost: 199.95. You can get it at CompUSA, or on line at www.planon.com
I noticed on their website they now have a R710 Professional model for $209 and the R700 for $199.99. There is also a recertificed unit for $99.99.
The DocuPen system requirements are (Windows 98/2000/ME/XP, CD ROM, 32 MB RAM Minimum 60 MB Hard Drive space and USB port).
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