Nearly a Magic Wand
September 2004 - By Teresa von Fuchs

The uses for an on-the-road scanning machine are easy to list: research materials, contract copies, signature capture, blueprints and business cards. Making electronic copies of documents is more than just the stuff of espionage novels, it’s a practical and easy way to move toward paperlessness.

So I was very excited about the potential of this little device. However, after mucking about, scanning magazine pages, a business card, a Word doc, a freelance agreement, the instructional leaflet that came with the DocuPen and photos of my nieces and nephews, I installed the software, including PaperPort (the free imaging software), downloaded the images that I had saved to the pen and tried to convert the scanned Word document image back to Word. The OCR turned the document into something resembling Spanish. So I opened it as a picture file and could read most of the important parts.

Same thing with the freelancer agreement—when converted to Word it was a mess, and as a picture file, the signature and handwritten parts were clear, but the text was not entirely legible.

I did some more scanning to see if it was my technique and am still not really sure. There are four LED indicators that blink in a different series to let you know how you’re doing. I wasn’t able to interpret much of the Morse Code. And often the scanner quit half way through a scan, I’m sure do to some fault of mine, but all this doesn’t add up to easy usability.

The photos and magazine cover came out the clearest. Though originally in color, the headlines were still readable in black and white and I could make out some of the cuter attributes of my kin.

I think Planon is heading in the right direction, and I think it has a pretty good first run product. If it can work on the OCR, the possibility of including an LCD status display and clean up some other bugs, the next DocuPen will live up to all my spy dreams.


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