ScanSoft OmniPage Pro 11

Optical character recognition (OCR) software such as OmniPage Pro 11 facilitates the movement of information from hard copy to digital form by converting scanned images into editable formats. This top-of-the-line package can not only recognise text, but also backgrounds, columns, tables, graphics and page formats to deliver a faithful digital facsimile of the original document.

Features of the latest version of this popular OCR program include the ability to recognise three alphabets, numerous fonts, and more than 100 languages. When proofing, you can make the program read words aloud for convenience, and mistakes that you correct are automatically updated throughout the document, saving time and effort. A new capability is PDF file recognition, allowing you to extract the information from a file created by Adobe Acrobat, edit it, then save it either as a new PDF file or in some other format.

Image handling has been im-proved, with support for colour and grey-scale scans, and better automatic detection of tables, columns, headers, footers, indents, page numbers, and more. Pages that have been scanned at a skewed angle of up to 15ยง are automatically straightened, and a new "despeckle module" can be used to clean up degraded documents such as faxes.

Installation of the program is straightforward, although it does force the user to fill out an annoying registration form for no good reason. In action, the software was delightfully easy to use, and produced results that were very impressive. Document layout and pictures were well interpreted, and there were few mistakes. If you need to digitise a number of documents, and have the money, OmniPage Pro could save a great deal of time.

ScanSoft OmniPage Pro 11

4.5 stars; Price: Upgrade $347, Full $1209; Distributor: Xerox Software Solutions; Phone: (02) 9700 6820; URL: www.scansoft.com