If, like most business people, you've got a stack of business cards from all and sundry piled up on your desk then the Corex CardScan might just come in handy. The unit is a miniature scanner that has been specifically built for scanning in business cards and then using the accompanying page recognition software to grab the relevant details and put them into a contacts book for you.
The hardware is a small unit roughly the size of a packet of biscuits and is weighty enough to feel well built and solid on your desk. Powered and connected to the PC via a USB cable, the unit's very portable. No additional power cable needed and therefore great to take back and forth to the office. Cards can be scanned in colour or mono, in batches (about 5 per minute) and once imported you can change, alter or export details to a number of software packages.
The software has been based around a Rolodex design and new cards are alphabetically stored. Depending on the artistic merit of the card you're scanning will depend on how much the OCR software gets right. In testing a number of cards we found the more creative they were the more trouble the software, CardScan v6, had reading them. Give it a traditional black sans serif font on bone or white and it had no trouble at all. To help make sure there are no mistakes you can alter, edit and change the editors and then click a verify button to remind yourself that the card has been given the approving nod. Additionally the software also keeps a scan of the original card just to help jog your memory if you can't work it out from contacts alone.
The software also offers an online feature with CardScan.net. The online service allows you to keep a backup of your contacts should your PC crash or be stolen as well as giving you access to your contact book wherever you are in the world.
Of course you don't have to stick with the Rolodex, and the software supports exporting the data to everything from Act!, Palm Desktop and Outlook.
If like us you've got that large stack of cards on the desk then this is the device to get electronic without having to type in all the details manually. Yes you have to be cautious of mistakes the OCR software makes, but then on average it gets it right. Once you've imported your business card collection you're only likely to have to keep it updated with perhaps one or two cards a week. The device does warrant a higher score, but with the OCR software not getting it right every time we just can't give it any higher than 7 out of 10.