That’s why I have a CardScan Executive business-card scanner. All you do is feed the cards in the front, and the fist-size unit does the rest. It scans the card, uses optical character recognition technology to transform the scanned card into actual editable text, and it then tucks all that info into a nice, little database. And with one more mouse click, you can copy all of your new customer prospects into Microsoft Outlook, ACT, GoldMine, and a gaggle of other address books, or sync directly to you PDA.
Goodbye power cord. This new model is smaller than the scanner it replaces, the legendary CardScan 600c. Best of all, there's no more a.c. power cord and transformer block to wrestle with. This was my single biggest complaint with the older model.
Powered directly through the USB cable, I can take the CardScan Executive on the road, plug it into the USB port on my laptop, and I'm in business, all without the hassle of searching for an electrical outlet. It's one less cord and several ounces less to travel with, too! Now, if I'm speaking on a panel at a trade show and people hand me their business cards, I can scan them on the spot. People really like that; they no longer fear I'll just shove the cards into my pocket, never to be looked again.
Easy set-up. The CardScan Executive is a snap to connect, just plug it into any available USB port on your PC. Installing the accompanying driver and application software takes about five minutes. A calibration card is included to make sure the unit is working without any problems.
CardScan (until recently known as Corex) has improved performance dramatically. Though I wouldn't characterize the old 600c as slow, the CardScan Executive handles a monochrome card in about two seconds, and a color card in about four.
Like the 600c, the CardScan Executive supports color. What difference does that make? To me, not much, but if you like, the CardScan software can store full-color images of scanned business cards, both front and back. I prefer to keep just the text. By the way, those images are stored in a proprietary file format that can’t be read by other programs. But would you really want to?
To scan business cards, you start up the software first. Older versions of the CardScan software looked like an old-style Rolodex card holder. But CardScan Executive comes with a completely retooled version that's a lot more up-to-date looking and uses screen real estate more efficiently. To scan a card, you just shove it into the front of the CardScan Executive. A tiny motor whirs and pulls the card through the device, and the image of the card shows up on your screen. Just keep feeding cards into the machine.
Alas, there's no way to load up the scanner with a stack of cards, they way you'd use and automatic document feeder on a full-size sheet-fed scanner. You've still got to sit there and feed the cards in one at a time. Big problem? No. Inconvenience? You bet.
After you’ve finished scanning cards, you click a button and then the CardScan software “processes” them, interpreting the scanned image and converting that image into actual text that you can edit and store in any address book.
Using the software. The software is smart: it knows the difference between a company name, person’s name, job title, address, phone, fax, cell-phone, e-mail address, and Web address.
I’d say the CardScan gets it right about 95 percent of the time. When it gets confused, it’s nearly always due to a problem with the design of the card, not with the CardScan software. That's because a weird logo, strange typeface, or use of images under type simply gets in the way. Cards that list all of a company's office location may cause trouble.
And there's one other potential obstacle: The type on business cards can be tiny. Most of the type on my my own business cards is very small, only 7.5 points, in Arial Narrow Light, and in gray. But I can sleep well knowing that CardScan handles it all perfectly.
Make sure that the design of your business cards is scanner friendly. You—and the people you give your card to—will be happy you did.
You should go through each scanned card and make any corrections necessary. When you know a card is accurate, you click a checkbox so you—and the CardScan software—know this card’s info is confirmed.
What to do with all the scanned data? You can leave the info in CardScan’s own address book, but I prefer to send all the addresses to Microsoft Outlook. How tough was that? All I had to do was click one button and within a few seconds it was all done.
CardScan even offers CardScan.net, a Web site where you can store all the business cards you’ve scanned. You can access these cards from a Web browser anytime, anywhere.
Strange business model. CardScan sells additional copies of its software, allowing two or more users to share scanned business-card information. Each additional user requires a license. With two software licenses the scanner is $329.95; with five licenses it's $499.95. You'd think the CardScan folks would want to sell more scanners, putting one on each desk, but the pricing model pushes purchases in the opposite direction.
Gotta have it. CardScan Executive is a well-designed essential tool for anyone who receives business cards and wants to keep track of them. And that's just about everbody.<