GCN LAB REVIEW

OmniPage Pro 17 can re-write (personal) history

Product: Nuance OmniPage Professional 17

Pros: Easy to use, accurate rendering of scanned documents into text.

Cons: A bit pricey.

Performance: A-

Ease of use: A

Features: A

Value: B+

Price: $499.99 or $199.99 as software upgrade to earlier versions.

We at the GCN Lab have come to value products that deliver what they promise. Nuance’s OmniPage Professional 17 does what it says it will do: Turn scanned documents into text documents. It also has other handy features, such as saving scanned documents as Kindle-friendly text and easy integration with Microsoft Office products.

The OmniPage Professional 17 makes the uneditable suddenly editable. Scanned documents, image files, read-only PDFs — all can be transformed into Microsoft Word or other files that are easily edited.

I installed OmniPage 17 in about four minutes under Windows XP.

My first test file was a rejection letter from GCN, dated Nov. 3, 1988. (I got a call the next day from the editor of GCN at the time, asking me to come in for an interview to be a copy editor, so the story has a happy ending.) I scanned the 20-plus-year-old letter and saved it as a JPEG file. The plan was to save the letter as a Word file and change the wording a bit.

I clicked on an icon at the top left side of the OmniPage screen, and it displayed a dialogue box that let me load the letter in a few seconds. It automatically proofread the file, putting the paragraphs into organized text boxes. A bar at the bottom showed the number of characters and words as well as other status information.

OmniPage offered a list of file formats to choose from, all of them varieties of Word, Excel, PDF and WordPad.

After saving it as a Word 2003 file, I selected the paragraph that said, “We are sorry to inform you that the position has been filled. However, we will keep your resume on file in case we have another opening soon.” I replaced that with: “We are delighted to welcome you onboard as a staff writer. You’re exactly what GCN has been looking for. Please accept our offer of fame and untold riches.” Who says you can’t rewrite history? With OmniPage 17, it seems, you can.

Now I was on a roll, embellishing my past in ways I had hitherto thought impossible. Next up was a read-only PDF file of my student evaluations from a class I taught in the fall semester. I wanted to change this to an Excel file and add a few embellishments along the way.

Again, the process was as easy as hitting “Save as Excel.” OmniPage divided the page into rows of numbers, text and logos. Although I’m proud of teaching at the University of Maryland University College, like anyone I sometimes wish we could add a little more pizzazz to my work history. I clicked on the UMUC logo at the top left, and OmniPage gave me a choice of available graphics editing programs. I opened the logo in Microsoft Paint and changed UMUC to “Oxford University.” Changes saved!

OmniPage’s rendering of scanned material into text was excellent, with very few typos, especially in translating the PDF student evaluations into Excel. That was letter perfect. The 1988 letter had a few more typos, possibly because there was more visual “white noise” of discoloration and crinkles.

I also liked how you could easily switch back and forth between different file formats and tasks. It seemed like it would be hard to make a major mistake, but if you did, you could undo it easily.

Nuance has a proven record of language recognition, either spoken or written, and OmniPage seems to live up to that reputation. The $500 price tag might seem a tad high, but bear in mind that it includes ScanSoft PaperPort 11 scanner software. A more standard version with fewer features is available for $150.

Nuance, www.nuance.com

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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