A Scanning Mouse
As it titles indicates, the IRIScan Mouse Executive 2 offers dual functionality. It can be used as a regular pointing device which can seamlessly switch to fulfil the role of a hand-held scanner. Unlike the previous version of the product, which was Windows only, this second incarnation of the scanner mouse can be used on either the Windows or Mac platform. I still feel, and the presence of a soft carry pouch in the box confirms that IRIS thinks likewise, that the IRIScan Mouse is more suited to a laptop than a desktop system.
On first sight, when opening the product box, I came across what I thought was the User Guide. However I was wrong. It was, in fact, a small mouse mat with a transparent flap that could be used for holding small items in place when scanning them. While this holding tool is ideal for scanning items, such as business cards, it proves impractical and too fiddly for scanning larger documents up to the A3 size supported by this device. There is supposed to be a User Guide supplied in PDF format on the software CD. However what you actually get is a link to the IRIS website from which you can delve down and eventually download the necessary PDF document with its minimum content.
The mouse scanner is predominately white in colour, a mixture of lacquered and matte areas, with the IRIS corporate green coloured flashing around the top of the unit. The mouse is the wired variety which links to the host system via a USB port. As you would expect, due to the need to incorporate the scanning functionality, the mouse is larger than many of its brethren although not excessively so. The mouse scanner has dimensions of 115 x 62 x 34mm (L x W x H) and features a top-mounted scroll wheel sandwiched between the standard left and right mouse buttons. An additional button, for activating the scan process, is located on the left side of the mouse.
As with any modern mouse, all the main activity is conducted from the base of the unit. In this case of this mouse scanner, there is a pair of laser sensors dealing with movement while scan activity is dealt with by a small rectangular window. Measuring 43 x 20mm, this window can deliver resolutions up to 300dpi which should be enough for OCR purposes.
The software supplied with this product consists of the main IRIScan Mouse utility plus a copy of Cardiris 5.5 for managing scanned business cards. The IRIScan Mouse utility can be set up to run whenever your operating system starts or manually when needed. The IRIScan Mouse interface consists of a display area headed by Save, Copy, Edit, Share and Apps options with a choice of JPG, DOC, PDF, TXT, XML and PNG file formats.
You just need to press the side button to switch from mouse mode to scan mode. At this point you will be faced by a black screen showing a representation of the mouse in the top right corner displaying the controls to zoom in and out of the image and stop the scanning process. A bar in the top left of the screen shows the amount of available memory while the central area displays the image as it is scanned. As you move the mouse across the document it appears on screen. Naturally with the small scanning window you will need to make a number of passes in order to scan the whole document. The software is intelligent enough to build up the image so that it fits together as gaps are filled in. It will also automatically adjust the zoom level to compensate as the size of the scan increases. Occasionally you might be asked to scan over areas already filled in but this is an infrequent happening. Most of my test scans produced an image at an angle but this was quickly taken care of by the software once the scan was completed by a second press on the side button.
The software makes a very reasonable attempt at straightening the scan. Freehand rotation is available if any minor adjustment needs to be applied. Tools are available for cropping unwanted areas. You can use sliders to adjust the saturation, hue, contrast and brightness. There is also switch between a black or white background.
Once satisfied with the scanned image, you can click on the OK button to have the image placed in the main IRIScan Mouse interface. You can copy the data, either as an image or text, into an appropriate application such as a word processor or graphics package. You simply need to select the required copy option, either text or image, and paste it into your choice of application. That is unless the application is the bundled Cardiris 5.5 application
For this particular application, and some other copy options, you need to use a different method of transferring data. The Apps option is the route to go as it offers direct links to Cardiris, Dropbox, Evernote and Google Translate. By selecting your choice of destination, the scanned data is automatically transferred to the relevant software or an established account. This appears to be the only way to get the scanned data into Cardiris as, although the IRIScan Mouse software recognises Cardiris, the opposite is not true. Despite supporting numerous third-party scanners and other IRIS solutions, the IRIScan Mouse is not one of them. Cardiris has to act as a slave rather than being in charge.
You can share your scans with others. This IRIScan Mouse software provides a number of options on the Share button. Links are provided for Facebook, Twitter and Flickr. You can also set up a profile to send scans via an email account. This latest version of the product is capable of scanning QR codes in order to direct you to the relevant site.
As I remarked upon with the previous version of this product, it is easy to hit the scan button in error. IRIS has yet to implement a way of disabling the scan feature on a temporary basis. While you get the bonus of Cardiris software, the three month Evernote Premium subscription appears to have dropped.
Windows users will need an Intel Core Duo 1,2GHz processor or better with GB of RAM and 1GB of free hard disk space running Windows XP and later. Mac users require an Intel Core Duo 1.4GHz processor or 1.8GHz for Mac Book Pro with 2GB of RAM and 1GB of available hard disk space. Currently the only price I have is 79 Euros.
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