Gathering Contact Data
Despite the capability of Bluetooth to beam personal information over short distances, the more traditional business card continues to hold sway when it comes to delivering contact details to others. One example of this situation could be seen at a Bluetooth awareness event when delegates were observed to be busily exchanging business cards rather than use the Bluetooth technology. One problem with the traditional business card method of delivering personal data is the transferring of the embedded data into digital format for manipulating using a contact management system. Offering to provide help in this respect is CardScan which now forms part of the Dymo family of label printing products.
Supporting both the PC and Mac platforms, this CardScan Executive brings together hardware and software elements to manage contact details from various sources. As you might suppose, the hardware element of the package is a small portable scanner. Measuring 165 x 92 x 40mm (W x D x H), this matt silver device can accept cards up to a width of 89mm. You simple place business cards into the open mouth of the unit and they will be automatically passed through the scanner with the relevant data being extracted.
However before attaching and using the hardware, you need to install the supplied software. This is a straightforward operation as you follow on-screen prompts and decide whether you want to include support for Palm and Microsoft Mobile devices. At the conclusion of the software installation you can attach the scanner using the supplied USB lead. When you first run the CardScan software you will be offered the opportunity to use a wizard to lead you through the stages that include setting up and testing the scanner, registering the product and creating an AtYourService account which provides access to a password protected backup service of your contact data. You can also create a Signature Card for use with Microsoft Outlook.
The CardScan Management software is impressive with the way it can handle the data that it receives. It was able to identify the person’s names, company, address, telephone number and email address without any problems. Even when I deliberately fed in cards the upside down, the software was able to cope with the way the data was presented. Cards that contain both English and oriental characters failed to confuse the software. There was only one card that caused a slight problem when the software mis-identified the name of an associate company as being the name of the person. Correcting the problem was but a few seconds work.
As well as receiving data from the CardScan device, this software can also accept contact details via drag and drop. You can select contact details from emails, web sites and other electronic files and then drag the data into the CardScan interface. It will then be processed and added to your list of contacts.
Speed of operation was equally impressive. The scanner was able to process a coloured card in 3 seconds while a monochrome card was handled in 1.5 seconds. The data could be analysed after each individual scan or stored until a batch of cards had been completed depending upon your choice.
The software can accept separate scans for the front and back of cards. Different categories can be used for storing cards into specific groups. Notes can be attached to appropriate cards and there are options to sort and search for cards plus print labels and link direct to your email client. CardScan has the capability to synchronise its data with Outlook / Outlook Express, ACT!, Lotus Notes, Goldmine plus mobile products such as iPod, SmartPhones, Palm and Windows Mobile devices.
CardScan performs well, is quick in operation and is easy to use. The product’s functionality is more suited to a business user who needs to keep contact data under control. The product requires a Pentium processor with 1GB of hard disk space running either Windows 2000 and later or Mac OS 10.5.3. I have seen this product priced at £153.85.
|add to del.icio.us||Digg this review|