Published on February 8th, 2013 | by Greg0
DYMO CardScan Executive: Accurate, Quick
When we come back from a big conference or convention, the work isn’t quite over. There is always a pile of business cards to deal with, and a contact list to create. Sometimes, that’s several hundred new pieces of paper to hold onto or keep track of. And while there are other ways to handle the job, the best is probably a portable scanner. Optimally, it’s small enough to pack and take on the road, so you don’t end up needing to drag the stack of cards with you from place to place. And the software is pretty crucial as well, since you want the results to be accurate and the programs user-friendly.
CardScan is a fairly old name- this is actually version 9 of the product. And not long ago, they were acquired by DYMO (part of Newell Rubbermaid), who are probably best known for their wide line of label printers. In fact, we checked out an earlier model more than six years ago, and were definitely interested to see how the device has changed. Thankfully, the CardScan Executive continues to offer excellent hardware and Windows software, and has improved quite a bit since the last time we checked in (there is now Mac OSX support, for starters). Granted, there are plenty of other options out there- NeatReceipts and NeatDesk have a solid niche, and we’re always keen on Fujitsu’s ScanSnap series and their capability with full-size documents. But CardScan does one thing and does it well.
The other models tweak the formula a bit- the less expensive and slower Personal edition loses some of the software support and is monochrome and PC-only, and the team model is meant for those with more than one user and allows you to share a database. But this one offers color scanning, and is remarkably speedy- about three seconds per card or less. You can’t do a stack of cards sadly- you’ll need to feed them through one at a time. And some cards aren’t well-supported, such as transparent, dark, or very glossy cards or those with lots of unusual fonts- but this is exactly the same as any other scanner that we’ve tried. In fact, the optical character recognition is top-notch, requiring few corrections, and the occasional fix needed was mostly in small font/common mistakes like l (lower case L) for 1 (number 1), and rn for m. The scanner will only do one-sided scans, but software allows you to combine them into one record. Batch processing of a stack of cards was much faster than we’ve seen, and results were excellent, though issues with non-Roman alphabets remain.
That said, it does appear that there have been some issues with support. We tested only on PCs running Windows 7, and Windows 8 is not listed as officially supported. Also, when we visited Dymo’s site to download the software, it seemed impossible to do- the listed software is from 2009 and is version 8 on the PC, and clicking on the listed link leads back to the main support page. The same was true for the Mac version, which is listed separately. In other words, if you lose the disk, you’re in trouble. Trying to chat with a representative resulted in a twenty minute wait queue. And those with version 8 of the software have to pay $80 for an upgrade.
Most awkward, while mobile computing has moved forward at a breakneck pace, this device hasn’t. There isn’t a direct-to-mobile scanning option or the ability to store the images on a USB thumb drive, and you’ll need a CD or DVD drive to install the software (some of our laptops don’t even have optical drives, and DYMO doesn’t offer easy downloads of the software, as we mentioned above). Though the CardScan is portable, it’s tied to a laptop, as it gets power via USB and not an internal battery. These aren’t necessarily deal breakers- it’s still a great product that works impressively well- but feel like unnecessary hassles for a product that could be a bit better.