I have never used any iPhone business card reader before. But this time, Penpower is kind enough to let me try out their contact management software and iPhone accessory. The iPhone accessory is easy to setup. You just need to plug your iPhone 4/4s into the dock and flip the business card stand up to put the business card. Then you are ready to scan your business cards.
Though it is not a requirement to have the accessory in order to scan the business cards, I have tested using my iPhone 4s to scan the business card and found that OCR recognition has some problems when used without the iPhone accessory. The alignment of certain words seems to affect the name of the contact. For example, “Camera Accessories Store” becomes “ra Computer Accessories Dept.
Without the Accessory:
With the accessory:
The next thing I did is to scan the same business card again with the inbuilt business card stand. Indeed, the OCR recognition is much better. I do not need to re-enter the name of the contact or adjust any words on the electronic business card software on my iPhone. Although it is not a big deal to re-edit some of the contact details, but re-editing details may seems a hassle if you are scanning dozens of business cards at one go. Hence, it is highly recommended to use the iPhone WorldCard Link – Instant Business Card Reader app with the accessory to get more accurate scans.
The other thing I found when using the business card reader accessory is you need to align the business card vertically to scan it. It does not work correctly if you place the card horizontally. This is also because Penpower found that scanning cards vertically does the job better than horizontally especially when using the iPhone camera to align with the business card.
You might ask yourself what if the data on your iPhone is erased. Will I have a backup on my PC? The contact management kit comes with a CD that allows you to install and activate the PC software on your computer. You can import any image that is generated by World Link or use the scanned business card photo to read the contact details as follows.
The PC software is able to synchronise the contacts between Google contacts and Microsoft Outlook. You can also use OCR scan to recognise a contact by using the image as previously mentioned.
Using the image to create a contact is special and only possible through the use of OCR technology. Though OCR recognition software is not new, using the iPhone camera as part of OCR recognition of business card is a viable idea as the contact can be 100% recognised using the accessory. The contacts captured through OCR can be synchronise to the Cloud so you can access them anytime.
Most commercial contact business card readers cost around $100 – $200. The WorldCard link pro costs around $69.95 and comes bundled with the PC software. The physical card reader is lean and you can take it anywhere you go. It also double up as an iPhone dock charger as it comes with an iPhone cable you can connect to your computer.
There is a cheaper alternative valued at $39.95 if you do not need the PC software. You can check it out below. The iPhone application allows you to export the image as a contact by exporting it as Gmail contact(.csv), iWork (.csv), MS Excel 2003 (.csv), Entourage 2008 (.csv), MS outlook (.vcf) and Mac Address book (.vcf). You can even export it as an iPhone contact.
You can probably use this card reader at vendors’ meetings or at seminars to record new contact details on your iPhone and PC. This contact management package comes with a detailed manual which you can browse and get yourself equipped with the knowledge on how to use the PC contact management software.
My overall impression of this kit is that it is useful as part of my contact management needs and it is priced lower than other retail contact management packages out there.