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GCN Lab review: BizCard software helps you bring order to business-card chaos

MY NIECE USED to collect Pokemon cards. She had little stacks of the cute monster cards scattered all over her room, the house and car.

I hate to admit it, but I collect business cards in much the same way. They're everywhere at home and work. There's an organizer full of them in the back of my daily planner and a stuffed-full Rolodex in my cubicle. I even have a little card carrier with double pockets ' take one, give one ' that I tote to trade shows and conferences.

What if you could scan those dozens of cards and put them all into an organized, alphabetized, searchable database? NewSoft America's Presto BizCard 5.40 software offers one way to solve the problem, letting you scan those pesky stacks of cards and edit and organize them into an easy-to-use format.

Downloading the software from the CD took about two minutes. Scanning the cards was easy with the lab's Epson GT 10000 flatbed scanner: You just click on an icon of a scanner on the screen.

It took a couple of tries to get the cards lined up correctly in the scanner. My first attempt to scan my own card registered my name as Ernment, picked up from Government Computer News. But this was easy to adjust.

One thing to be aware of: The software automatically sorts cards alphabetically ' by first name. Thus I was filed under T for Trudy, not W for Walsh.

BizCard scans and automatically fills in fields for name, company, department, job title, address, phone, fax, e-mail and Web address. It also has a little window at the bottom of the screen that shows the image of the whole card. It recognizes text well enough to flip an image when I deliberately put a card in upside down.

I scanned the card of a friend who runs a freelance writing business called Random Dogs. The business name is printed in a very distinctive cursive font manipulated in Adobe Photoshop. The $79 BizCard software aced it. It read every word and put the text in all the correct categories.

BizCard handled white text on a black background with ease.

A translucent card from a public relations associate posed no problems either, and it even mimicked the stylish black dots that divided the job functions.

But a business card with Braille embossing along with printed black text proved to be a challenge. Biz- Card took longer to process it and didn't register the address correctly. The bumps created shadows on the text that hampered BizCard's ability to read it.

The ultimate test was a card that had been through the mill. It belonged to a federal employee who had gotten divorced and crossed out her last name. She also crossed out the last part of her name on her e-mail address. The card was physically damaged, and I had scribbled some new phone numbers on it. A stars-and-stripes background image topped it all off.

BizCard translated most of the scanned cards in a few seconds, but this one slowed it by a few more seconds. Correctly, it didn't register the name that had been crossed out. The last name on the e-mail hadn't been entirely crossed out, so BizCard registered the first letter. And the stars-and-stripes background didn't keep it from recognizing the employee's correct phone, fax and department.

BizCard seemed more comfortable with numbers than letters; it didn't misplace one phone or fax number in all the cards I scanned.

BizCard also lets you print labels from your cards, a handy feature for mass mailings. You can even put the cards into categories, such as holidays or gifts.

Order in the cards

All told, the BizCard software did a fine job of bringing order to the chaos of cards in my Rolodex.

The software's editing feature lets you easily tweak the rough spots or anything that doesn't translate well, such as an ornate or raised logo.

But I did find myself wishing people would leave the bells and whistles off their business cards and just offer clear designs in simple fonts.

If I want to look at exotic, colorful designs, I'll go dig up some Pokemon cards.

NewSoft America, (408) 503- 1200, www.newsoftinc.com

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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