Tools Of The Trade: You need never lose track of a contact again

The specialised scanners that allow you to put business cards on your PC

Few of us enjoy typing details of new contacts into our computers. Business card scanners are designed to handle this boring but necessary chore.

Two companies dominate the market for personal business card scanners: Iris from Belgium and US company Corex. They set out to solve the same problem, but approach it in slightly different ways.

Corex's CardScan Executive 600cx is the slicker of the two. It is sturdy and heavier than it looks, but small enough to sit on a deskwithout taking up too much space. The Iris Business Card Reader II is lighter and feels more flimsy. On the plus side, it is so light that you would hardly notice if you packed it with a laptop for a business trip. Both scanners draw power from a computer's USB port, so they don't need a bulky external power adapter.

But aesthetics are far less important than performance. They only have to do one job, but they must do it well. It is here that the differences matter most.

The CardScan has better software, with an index designed to mimic a card index. Install the software, hook up the scanner, and pop in a business card: within a few seconds, the contact details appear on the screen.

The CardScan has a good batch function for inputting groups of cards, and it scans quickly. The software can share information with a desktop computer's email program or with a handheld PC, or store contacts on the web. In short, it covers most bases.

In use, however, it had some problems. The CardScan lost its connection to the host computer twice during a 15-minute test, though this irritation could be a problem with the test unit. And, although the CardScan's bundled software is easy to use, it was less flexible than it could be when it came to sharing information with other programs.

Although the software supports Microsoft's VCF format for exchanging contact details, you cannot just drag and drop a record - or a group of records - on to the desktop to make copies and then use them wherever you want.

The Business Card Scanner II is not as slick, but we preferred it. The installation software throws up a Windows incompatibility warning with the XP operating system (it's OK to ignore this) and the layout - based on a card wallet - is not as neat as the CardScan's.

But in our tests, the Iris scanner was better at recognising information on business cards, and it was far easier to adjust the settings to cope with hard-to-read characters or unusual card designs. Its batch working was not as good as the CardScan's, and for best results you have to tell the scanner your contact's country. But sharing contact details with other software was quite easy.

Neither scanner is perfect, but nor are they expensive. The lighter weight, lower cost and Mac option of the Iris gave it the edge for us, but it was a close race. Using either device is hugely preferable to typing in contact details.

THE VERDICT

Iris Business Card Scanner II

Rating: 4 out of 5

Corex CardScan Executive 600cx

Rating: 3.5 out of 5

Prices: CardScan Executive 600cx, approx £180; IRIS Business Card Scanner II, approx £140. Both available from computer retailers.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
Lou Reed distorted the truth about his upbringing, and since his death in 2013, biographers and memoirists have added to the myths
musicThe truth about Lou Reed's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths
News
people
News
Ed Miliband received a warm welcome in Chester
election 2015
Life and Style
Apple CEO Tim Cook announces the Apple Watch during an Apple special even
fashionIs the Apple Watch for you? Well, it depends if you want for the fitness tech, or the style
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45,000: SThree: SThree Group have been well e...

Ashdown Group: IT Manager / Development Manager - NW London - £58k + 15% bonus

£50000 - £667000 per annum + excellent benefits : Ashdown Group: IT Manager / ...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Consultant / Telemarketer - OTE £20,000

£13000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Scotland's leading life insuran...

Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manager - City, London

£40000 - £45000 per annum + benefits : Ashdown Group: Training Programme Manag...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own