The Presto BizCard Reader is a road warrior's dream come true. It's truly tiny (4.37x2.9x1.1 inches), it comes with a full-featured contact manager, and it's as easy as pie to set up and use. It has some trouble with optical character recognition (OCR) and putting data into the right fields, but if you don't mind fixing its mistakes, it's a great value at $149. The Presto BizCard Reader is a road warrior's dream come true. It's truly tiny (4.37x2.9x1.1 inches), it comes with a full-featured contact manager, and it's as easy as pie to set up and use. It has some trouble with optical character recognition (OCR) and putting data into the right fields, but if you don't mind fixing its mistakes, it's a great value at $149.
All you need
Setup is a breeze. The 600dpi grayscale-only BizCard Reader comes with everything you need: USB cable, software CD, and a convenient carrying pouch for taking the scanner on the road. Once you install the supplied BizCard software (which takes about two minutes) and then plug in the scanner, it'll be recognized immediately by your computer. It's powered by your PC's USB port, so there's no power brick to lug or plug. Like the Corex CardScan Executive 600c, it's compatible with Windows 98 and later but not Mac OS. Before using the scanner, you must prime the pump by running a blank business card (or the one supplied with the unit) to calibrate the BizCard Reader.
Once that's done, just place a business card face down into the scanner, then press the Scan button on the device or in the BizCard software. In seconds, the card will pass through the scanner and the recognition will begin. If you have lots of cards to scan, you can run them all at once and process them later in a batch. However, the BizCard Reader lacks the handy bin that the Corex CardScan uses to catch and hold the completed cards.
Testing, one, two, three...
NewSoft touts the accuracy of its Abbyy FineReader OCR engine, but we found that not everything came up roses. To put the reader through its paces, we assembled our scan-buster collection of color and black-and-white business cards, with both simple and complicated company logos and contact information in unusual positions. The card reader interpreted text accurately enough, but it had a nasty habit of mixing up the company name with the individual contact's name. We had to exercise our cut-and-paste skills, correcting the contact information in the BizCard software.
On the other hand, the actual recognition process was pretty quick, and the scanner managed to handle cards that had their text oriented lengthwise with aplomb. We were particularly pleased with the BizCard software's Card Album feature, which shows you thumbnails of all of your business cards.
The scanner's user guide is somewhat brief but sufficient to get you up to speed quickly. The software's fairly intuitive, and the help menus are informative, so you can usually get by without having to refer to the guide. You can access your contacts in the BizCard software or export them to Lotus Organizer; Symantec's Act; and Microsoft Outlook, Outlook Express, and Excel. And like the Corex CardScan, the BizCard lets you sync with your contact manager, e-mail software, or Palm OS handheld.
NewSoft's warranty is par for the course: one year on parts and labor for the scanner. Unfortunately, technical support is a toll call to the company's Fremont, California, headquarters and is available only from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday PT. Fortunately, the company's Web site is amply equipped with driver updates and support information, and e-mail support is also available if you want to save on the phone bill.
One for the road
For just $149, the NewSoft Presto BizCard scanner is a good value. It's very portable, and offers great software and reasonably good scanning accuracy. Considering that its best competition is twice the price, budget-minded users might find the scanner worth the savings, despite its accuracy problems.