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CardScan Executive Business Card Scanner Review

There are a few tools that today’s modern businessman and businesswoman should never be without.  One of these is naturally a smartphone such as our Treo or Centro and another in my opinion is the CardScan Executive v8 Card Scanner whose full capabilities I finally discovered a few weeks ago.

CardScanWhile the Centro is absolutely great at helping me to quickly retrieve contact information the fact is that I rarely add any data directly on my smartphone beyond a name, mobile and email while on the go.  The problem with this data input method however is that over time I have managed to accumulate business cards at a much faster rate than my ability to enter the information on my Centro or Outlook as well as leaving many of my existing contacts with only partial data.

Unfiled Business Cards

Over the years literally hundreds of these business cards had been gathering dust in a drawer (image above) and it came to the point where I simply knew that I absolutely had to solve this problem once and for all.  I initially considered sending all of these cards to a secretarial service so that they could input the data for me but on the one hand some quick math revealed that the costs were steep and on the other hand it would only provide me with a temporary and not permanent solution.

CardScan Executive

After some further research I became convinced that investing some $250 to buy the CardScan Executive (pictured above) would prove to be the best option – one that would allow me to save time by quickly scanning my business cards directly at my PC, into Outlook and thus always synchronized and up-to-date with my Centro or Treo.

Following days of tests and scanning about a third of my outstanding business cards I can say that I am absolutely delighted to have taken the plunge and purchased the latest CardScan Executive – I actually keep wondering just why, why, why I didn’t get it sooner as it would have saved me precious hours and many headaches…

CardScan ExecutiveSetting your CardScan up could not be simpler.  Just install the software, plug the unit into your USB port and you’ll be up and running in about 5 minutes.  It takes just 3 seconds to scan each card in full colour or monochrome.  Don’t expect 100% accurate character recognition all the time but the average 90–95% ratio is nonetheless extremely good and the minute that you spend verifying that all the information is correct is still considerably more efficient than inputing from scratch.

Additionally, the cool and elegant silver unit doesn’t look out of place on my desk (it’s actually quite pleasing to look at) and I also particularly like the fact that this CardScan is USB powered (miniUSB cable included) so there’s no messy power cord around.

Finally, aside from native synching with Microsoft Outlook (as well as ACT!, Lotus Notes and Goldmine) the CardScan software also provides seamless support for both Windows Mobile and Palm OS smartphones – thus making regular business card scans, transfers and synchronization a quick, extremely simple and completely hassle-free exercise.

Although I personally decided to get the top-end CardScan Executive model which offers a faster and bigger full colour scanning you can also choose from the cheaper CardScan Personal (only monochrome scans), CardScan Team (full colour for groups) and CardScan Lead Qualifier (for trade shows and conventions).

Treonauts always want to be free of hassles

Posted by Andrew on April 16, 2008 at 11:20 AM

Centro Accesories , Treo Accessories

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by Stuart Rayner | Apr 16, 2008 3:03:47 PM

Rather pricey if you ask me. I liked the idea of being able to use the Treo camera and make a picture of the business card and then have an app transform it into your contacts list. Now that would be sweet.

by Andrew | Apr 16, 2008 3:33:11 PM

Stuart - my math went somewhere like this: if my time is worth $60/hour ($1/min) and it would take me some 3-5mins to input just one business card ($3-5/card) the traditional way. Inputing the 500 business cards that I have would be equivalent to a time value of $1,500 to $2,500.

With the CardScan each card only takes about 1min or $500 for all my cards + the $250 cost of the card scanner thus saving me between $750 and $1,750.

Under this scenario the cost of the CardScan was a complete no-brainer for me.

Additionally, I have tested the service of taking a picture of the business card with a smartphone camera and I can assure you that there is absolutely no way that this provides a more effective solution than a dedicated card scanner.

I hope this helps.

Cheers, A.

by Sorian | Apr 16, 2008 8:35:41 PM

Andrew, all I can say is good lord. You may actually need to make sure half of those are still valid.

by random9q | Apr 17, 2008 6:16:19 AM

Having worked a few years doing a stint as an under-employed Administrative Assistant and spent hours and hours entering OTHER PEOPLE'S business card collections into an obnoxious program [my jaded opinion after giving tech support to it as an admin, it probably isn't all that bad] by the name of "ACT!" [which actually used to be an acronym for Activity Control Technology, if you can believe it], then having to fuss with one of these "over-priced specialty scanners"...

I can vouch for its intriguing accuracy. It seems to use an interesting collection of weak AI rules ("weak AI" -- meaning it isn't in any sense going to be competing for the Loebner Prize any time soon -- is a technical term and doesn't imply that the thought that went into writing it is necessarily simplistic) and would be quite a challenge to duplicate that degree of accuracy. I had to correct it on occasion, but relatively seldom. And that was several generations of the software ago. Even if they've just been sitting on their laurels with that part of the software and only updating it w/r/t how it connects to PIM and database software, I'd say it'd be *well* worth considering to anyone who had a steady stream of business cards as input into their contacts.

A version of the software that lives ON your smartphone, or is offered as a subscription service via MMS, would be a great suggestion and would eliminate the hardware. But given the size of the engine you might want to wait a few years before asking to have a copy installed on your phone. There won't be room for much else, if anything. Including room for contacts. That'd kinda defeat the point. But as a service... Anyone from CardScan reading?

Oh, and I'm happily employed again as a programmer/business-analyst and actually USING my Computer Science degree now.

by dmm | Apr 17, 2008 10:00:56 AM

I agree with Stuart. It is more effective in one key way, at least for some of us: it doesn't require being at a PC/Mac. If anything, I need to fit scanning into a few minutes here and there--when I wouldn't have time to power on my laptop and plug in a scanner either. I don't even normally bring the laptop with me on day-to-day things; I work from my Treo.

I've tried a little bit of testing with other smartphones, some of which do have this capability, though not quite on the level of CardScan. I think it will be feasible shortly, though not for the Treos and Centros currently on the market (it seems to need a higher-res camera with macro mode). Whether or not a good OCR program could run on Palm OS is up in the air--all I can say is it would take a good bit of work.

The current Palm OS does have one piece of the puzzle in place via 3rd-party software--once the data is available as text, there are programs that put it into your contacts list for you. In particular, Snap from SplashData (originally Slap by Hands High) is what I use. As is, though, that often means either cutting and pasting from someone's email sig or that I have to sync it over (for one meeting I go to, the contact info for the guests is emailed out as a spreadsheet and, while feasible, would be clumsy to reformat on the Treo).

by Dan | Apr 18, 2008 10:50:07 PM

Is the Centro still limited to 15 categories?

The limitation on Treo 650 seriously cripples any usefulness of maintaining contact information on Palm.

by JPP | Jul 12, 2008 2:45:39 AM

As per my request, my company has just bought and installed a CardScan on my laptop, and I must say it's quite impressive.

by Patty LeBas | Oct 16, 2008 3:51:58 PM

My boss has an older version CardScan which is not compatible with his new Centro. After many hours on the Palm website and the Palm Support phone line, I have been told by Palm that there is no card scanner available that is compatible with the Centro! Is it possible that the CardScan Executive will work with his Centro?
Thanks for any help, Patty

by used laptops | Apr 27, 2011 7:12:27 AM

in todays era many business users seeking for the tools that they can go through to it easily i like the blog very informative for every use.

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