The first thing I notice when I hastily try to plug the device into the machine is the well placed sticker informing me to install the software before plugging into the machine. Glad you told me. People plagued with “Plug and Play” always anticipate plugging…then playing.
This review will be two for the price of one. First, CardScan’s newly added ability to work with a Mac. Then, for BlackBerry toting, Outlook using warriors, we will try it on Windows.
Installing is as expected. Drag the icon into the Applications folder…done. Copying…and done. Don’t read the license agreement and click accept, check. Serial number, check. Registration…later. We are ready to start in about 2 minutes…if you type slowly.
After plugging the device in and opening the CardScan application, I was feeding cards using the batch process. Both the batch and adding the single contacts was quite easy. The device has an acceptable accuracy, probably in the 90% range. The program has trouble discerning company names that include logos as part of the name, but does a good job for the most part. Errors are usually pretty blatant or occasionally in the wrong field. It even lets you scan the back of the card, which occasionally comes in handy.
Adding batches and new contacts one at a time are both very simple and intuitive. Synching is accomplished using the Preferences. It only really synchs with the Address Book, but since that Address Book is available in Entourage (and what mail uses), we will give them “Synchs with email programs”. I did not find a way to directly manipulate your Exchange address book contacts on the Mac version since the application only really interfaces with the local Address book.
The album slide view is very cool.
Yes, it is eye candy, but it is well placed eye candy and shows that the CardScan development team did not just try to “port” a Windows app to the Mac platform. It is a bit of a letdown that CardScan is the only application you can see the card images. However, if the point of the device is to quickly input card information and synch with your address book, then it is right on target. It does that and does it very well. And other than the inability to directly work with your Outlook contacts, the results were quite pleasing…especially the time saving factor that requires minimal editing on adding new contacts to the mix.
What is the pay off for the Windows version…just like everything else, it is the Office Synch. The interface is not as fuzzy, it does not look like iTunes, but it does what it needs to and does if efficiently. Using Outlook 2007, a “CardScan” option is added to your main ribbon allowing you to view cards on the contact form. The scanning accuracy is about the same. The synch is top shelf. No doubt. And if I had the patience, the auto synch would probably run just as it is supposed.
Comparing Apples to Windows
So, how do they stack up?
Both applications stack up well in their respective categories.
All in all, both versions are perfect for the ecosystems in which they will be used. I do wish the Mac version was a little better at adding a card to a current contact. The Windows version functions nominally as expected. Another novel feature is the application can create a new contact from dropping a contact block from a document or a website.
Does the average person that occasionally get business cards need to spend $270 on this solution? Probably not. What about executives, sales people, marketing and other customer or vendor facing workers and road warriors? The cost is totally justifiable. It is wonderful for adding new contacts. It does a good job on either platform of keeping things in synch…and by that I mean minimal fuss and intervention is required. And for gadget loving execu-trons…what is better than another piece of hardware on the desk?
Review by Eric Johnson
Be sure to tune in the rest of the week for more TechTalk Product Reviews.
We’ll be back on at regular time this week when Ben Patterson joins Tom this Sunday @ 3 pm in Phoenix and 5pm in NYC