Classic Computer Magazine Archive COMPUTE! ISSUE 163 / APRIL 1994 / PAGE 110

Scan-in-Dex. (business card scanner) (Software Review) (Hardware Review) (Evaluation)
by Rick Broida

The problem with business cards is that they pile up. You get four at a business lunch, two more in a sales meeting, a handful at a trade show, and a mountain from friends and associates. These are valuable contact tools, but organizing, storing, and managing them is a frustrating task at best.

Enter Microtek's Scan-in-Dex, perhaps the most innovative business solution since the fax machine. The San-in-Dex is a dedicated business card scanner coupled with sophisticated optical character recognition (OCR) software. Together they perform minor miracles, extractingpertinent information from business cards and converting it for use on the computer. You can quickly build a database of names, numbers, and addresses, then store it as an online address book, mailing list, or contact manager.

About the size of a box of 5/1-4-inch floppy disks, the sleek-looking Scan-in-Dex plugs into an included proprietary interface card. Installation is a five-minute job, and the Windows software setup is easier still.

The software, which drives the scanner and performs the OCR, is a model of simplicity. The wonderfully uncluttered contact display shows fields for name, title, address, phone number, and so on. There's a space for adding miscellaneous notes about the person (like having the back of the business card to write on), and a small window displaying the scanned card.

Scanning is a breeze, requiring nothing more than the click of a button. Once a card is read, the data is interpreted and placed in the appropriate fields. This is no small feat; the software performs with remarkable accuracy and intelligence, distinguishing phone numbers from fax numbers, names from titles, and so on. The entire process takes only about 20 seconds.

Of course, it's not flawless. The fancier the card, the more likely that fields will be garbled or left blank. Any errors or omissions may be corrected manually, however, and the software does have the ability to read vertical cards.

Contact listings may be printed or exported for use in full-fledged contact management software, such as Lotus Organizer or Contact Software's Act! for Windows. Only these two packages are supported, however, although listings can be exported in text or comma-delimited format.

Scan-in-Dex is an outstanding product. Microtek has developed an innovative solution to a longstanding business dilemma.