Visioneer's scanning software sets the standard, if imperfectly

Now Visioneer has turned this utility into a standalone product, PaperPort Deluxe. No
matter what TWAIN-compliant imaging device you have, you can use PaperPort Deluxe to
organize scanned images-documents, business cards, photos-and make special links to
transfer them to applications as needed.


I tested PaperPort Deluxe with a Gateway 2000 Inc. P5-200XL computer running Microsoft
Windows 95 and a Hewlett-Packard Co. ScanJet 5p scanner.


SimpleSearch, one of the package's best features, searches scanned documents in folders
up to five levels deep, based on content, title, annotation, key words, comments or
creators. Its Content Index database updates automatically.


During installation, PaperPort Deluxe automatically detects which of the 150
applications it supports are on your machine, and it configures the appropriate links.
After installation, you can add more application links and pick up new ones from
Visioneer's World Wide Web site.


The supported links fall into three groups: imaging, optical character recognition and
faxing. The imaging and faxing links are the least sophisticated, merely transferring the
images you've scanned.


However, converting an optical image into an editable text document takes a bit more
intelligence. Rather than try to develop their own OCR engine, the folks at Visioneer
licensed Xerox Corp.'s TextBridge software, which continues to deliver its fairly reliable
performance in this incarnation.


Also included in the package is an application that is supposed to locate the fields on
scanned forms and let you tab from field to field to fill in information. I found in
practice that it usually just selected every horizontal line on a form. Although you could
just tab through these non-fields, tweaking the software rules should alleviate the
problem.


Visioneer throws in Intuit Inc.'s ExpensAble SE to organize your receipts and complete
expense reports. No package would be complete these days without a Web tie, and PaperPort
Deluxe gives you Netscape Navigator and NetCentric Corp.'s FaxStorm for publishing
documents and images on the Web.


Interestingly, when I tried to install the included version of CompuServe Inc.'s Spry
browser, the installation failed because no telephone line was detected. Evidently,
CompuServe didn't think about users with direct network connections to the Internet.


The PaperPort Deluxe Viewer, a standalone product included in the package, lets other
users annotate PaperPort documents. You can distribute it free by disk, shared network
directories or e-mail, or download it free from Visioneer's Web site. It extends
PaperPort's reach to an entire network of users-not just those who have scanners.


PaperPort Deluxe has earned its status, but it occasionally fails when it tries to do
too much. Though I have not seen a better product for handling scanned images, there's
room for greater integration.


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