IRIS serves up accurate OCR

The new IRIS Readiris Pro 11 optical character recognition software makes fast work of turning paper documents into electronic text files that keep the original formatting and design elements intact. IRIS has improved the app's OCR engine, and in our tests it often delivered notably increased speed and accuracy.

We tested a shipping version of the new Readiris Pro with an HP Scanjet 4890 flatbed scanner and successfully converted a slew of colour and monochrome documents, ranging from simple one-column reports to multicolumn pages with text and graphics.

The new software recognised and saved a 50-page sample document in half the time that the previous version, Readiris Pro 10, took to perform the same task (90 seconds versus 180 seconds on the same setup). Not all of our tests netted such dramatic results, but most showed at least a modest improvement.

After scanning each document, Readiris Pro automatically identified various text elements - including columns, tables and bulleted or numbered lists -- and quickly converted them into an editable format with a high degree of accuracy.

It also converted graphics (such as photos) and other design elements, and it recreated the source-document layout in various output formats including Adobe PDF, Microsoft Word and Excel document formats.

Like the previous version, this OCR utility can recognise barcodes and some hand-printed notes. More helpful is the software's added support for Microsoft Excel HTML and SpreadsheetML, as well as for OpenOffice.org Writer 2.0 and Sun StarOffice 8.0.

Verdict: For veteran users, the improvements in performance, accuracy and document layout retention easily justify the upgrade.

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Richard Jantz

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