Every time I go to a trade show or other event I always come away with stacks of business cards. Trying to manage all those cards can be quite a task. Having a Business card scanner can really make managing contacts a lot easier. Plustek recently introduced a new business card scanner called the OptiCard 821.
- A6 Size Sheetfed Color Scanning
- Hardware optical 600 dpi (1200dpi software interpolated)
- Handy Button Operation Design
- Power Saving, Efficient Usage Without Warm-up
- Scan to searchable PDF
The OptiCard 821 is not all about scanning business cards. With a maximum document size of A6, it can accept up to a 4″ x 6″ document. This means you can scan most photos and small papers.
The 821 comes with several pieces of software that can help to make the scanning and organizing process a lot easier. Included with the scanner are HotCard BizCard Finder, DigiScan, Presto! PageManager, Presto! ImageFolio, ABBYY FineReader Sprint plus, Acrobat Reader. Some of the software is quite old, For example, Acrobat Reader on the disk is version 5.0.5, but the current version on the adobe website is 8.1. Normally the version of the software is not a problem, but as I will discuss below it can be a little annoying.
The driver software allows you to configure the two buttons that are on the front of the OptiCard 821.
The compact size of the OptiCard 821 is an immediate plus for anyone who travels a lot or if you don’t have a lot of room on your desk. It is so light weight, only weighing .45 pounds, you are not even going to notice it when you are carrying it. It also does not require a separate power plug, so you can literally take it anywhere you can take your laptop, and with dimensions of 2.4″ x 6.9″ x 1.5″ it will fit in your laptop bag or suitcase.
There are two buttons on the top of the OptiCard 821. They both accomplish the same task of scanning your documents. The Scan button has a few configurations that can be made with the driver software. The custom button also scans, but you can configure a few more of the options. Because of the limitations in the software it seems like the scan button is used to scan images and the custom button is used to scan text. You can see this in the pictures below. There are not very many options in the selection boxes.
On the left side is a single square USB plug. This is the only connection you need to power the scanner and scan your documents to your computer. The USB 2.0 offers great speed so that you are never waiting for your scans to finish.
Scanners come in all shapes and sizes. Normally you would think that bigger is better, but a large part of that depends on what you want to use it for. If you are scanning a lot of documents at a time for archiving or something, then you definitely want an automatic document feeder which only comes with larger scanners. If you only scan occasionally and you need to take your scanner with you then a small portable scanner will do fine. If your only scanning business cards or single photos you can go with something even smaller. The small size of the 821 does come with limitations in technology. The 821 is limited to 600 DPI scans, but 600 DPI is more than enough for its main purpose of scanning cards; 600 DPI is also a good resolution for scanning photos. In addition, with all the software that is provided, you can get just about anything scanned and it will probably meet your every need.
Installing the software is fairly painless. The only problem I encountered is that some of the software is quite old. For example, I mentioned the age of the Adobe Acrobat Reader software earlier. Since this is freely available from the Adobe website I like to keep my version up to date. When I installed the Scanner software it tried to make me uninstall my 8.1 version and install their 5.0.5 version. I did not want to use the older version so I chose to cancel the installation of Acrobat. Fortunately, this did not stop the rest of the programs from installing.
The first time you use the scanner it will ask you to calibrate the scanner. This is really easy to do, you just need to insert the calibration card into the scanner with the top facing up. There are also cleaning sheets included so that if the scanner starts leaving specs on your scans, you can run the cleaning paper through the scanner to clean it up.
The OptiCard 821 is fairly quick when scanning. I was able to scan business cards at a 300 DPI in about two seconds. Photos took a bit longer, but they were also quick. I could get a 4 x 6 photo at 600 DPI scanned in only 13 seconds.
Even though the 821 is small and limited to 600 DPI it is not going to let you down with its scan quality. If you are a casual photo scanner, then this will even work for you; however, it was clearly designed for scanning business cards at lower resolutions. As you can see from the color charts that I scanned, the colors came out good. If you do scan photos you will want to keep in mind that sheet-fed scanners and scanners with automatic document feeders can damage your photos as they go inside the scanner. Just for comparisons sake, I scanned an old picture I had on my Canon MP530 and on the OptiCard 821. I was very surprised to see just how well the 821 did with pictures. It actually looked really good.
As you can see from some of my scans, I had trouble keeping them all straight. The curving happens because it is really easy for pictures or cards to shift while scanning. Adjustable guides would go a long way to help keep things straight.
The OCR software that comes with the scanner is called HotCard BizCard Finder and it worked reasonably well. I scanned several business cards for this test. The software did a decent job of picking out the text and assigning it to the correct category, as long as the background was a light color and the text was dark. There were a couple of problems; for example, a number 4 in a phone number showed up as a plus and some hyphens showed up as commas and periods. These were not a big deal for one card, but I can imagine if you had one hundred cards and it happened to all of them it would get tiresome having to fix them all. I did have one business card that it would not scan at all. This card has dark blue background with white text. The software would only scan the top of the card then stop. I tried all of the software that was included with the scanner and the results were always the same. I actually had to use a different scanner to get the card to scan. I purposely blurred out the emails and phone numbers to protect the persons privacy.
The other programs that come with the scanner also work well. They are more for organization of photos and document management, so you probably won’t use them very much.
Warranty and Support
The OptiCard 821 comes with a 1 year parts and labor warranty.
The OptiCard 821 works well for its purpose. I liked the card scanning and organization abilities. Being able to scan photos is a bonus, but not recommended because it could damage your photos. The compact size makes it easy to travel with, but eliminates the ability to scan larger documents. I can recommend this scanner because it is very portable and scans text and graphics really well and really fast. You can probably expect this scanner to be priced at around $150. As always compare prices before purchasing.
|JusTech'n editors' rating|