Readiris Corporate 12, retailing at $399, is an application that changes documents containing scanned images into standard file formats, with the least hassle, and the least options, of any Optical Character Recognition, or OCR, program. In situations where you don’t have the time you need to correct text within your OCR software, and just want to convert your printed page or image into a Word or PDF format, this application’s one track approach may suit you, but it will not work for you if you need to be able to do any sort of fine tuning.
Other negative aspects of this application include the fact that its recognition accuracy is not as high as some of the competition and it has trouble untangling page layouts that are more complex: during testing it sometimes failed to recognize a table as such, mistaking it for a set of haphazard boxes of text.
It is available in Corporate and Pro versions, with both sharing the same intrinsic document reading abilities. The Corporate edition was used in testing, and it includes the power to execute OCR functions mechanically on any files placed into a watched folder; allows you to create an index that is XML formatted; allows for the creation of enciphered PDFs; and also contours the processing of more than 1 document at a time. It shares with its rival products an ability to process barcodes, and is also able to mechanically route your documents to specific folder if the document’s barcode includes a particular number. You can also create an XML based index of these text files, but it will not allow you to fine tune the processing it performs when it locates particular numbers inside the barcodes, and, unfortunately, competitors’ products do.
Readiris will give the option of launching an OCR Wizard when you start it, and this Wizard will help you convert the document from its scanned state into the format you desire. Possible output formats include OpenOffice.org; Microsoft Word; and PDF, and the Mozilla and Netscape format choices will result in HTML files. Should you decide against using the Wizard, you are still able to select a task like scanning to either Excel; OpenOffice; or Word; and saving to either PDF or Microsoft’s XPS document storage from a list found in the screen background of the chief editing window.
During testing, when a choice was made from the list of standard task, the application ran mechanically, with the user simply needing to select the image file needing to be read, or, by way of buttons in a dialog, telling the program that it would need to get the document from the scanner, and then name the output file. The process is also very simple in cases where the input material has a more complex layout, likely to cause trouble during an automatic operation, or you need to apply OCR to a specific part of the scanned document. You are able to select input and output choices from a toolbar on the left of your screen, and are even able to examine Readiris’ interpretation of your document. You are further able to combine more than 1 text region into 1; fix any mistakes the application may have made in distinguishing text or image areas, and the simple click of a button will straighten a warped image.
The fact that no features allowing you to edit text appear in Readiris is a negative one: Omnipage and Finereader will allow you to open a window to edit your text, displaying your scanned image in 1 window, and the text in another, and so you are able to type in any corrections you need to. Readiris will not make your text visible until you save it to a different format: you will have to open the text you’ve saved from whatever editor you are using, and then locate the matching part of the image you’ve scanned inside Readiris: a complex process, not suited for documents that need heavy corrections.
When testing Readiris with a PDF document formatted so that each page of the PDF is in fact 2 pages from a printed booklet, it could only read each set of pages as a page with 2 columns, and would not allow for these to be split into 2 distinct pages, and Finereader managed this easily.
An irritating interface glitch also made itself known: you cannot resize the File/Open dialog, and so can only read the file list from a very small window near the top part of the dialog, a fact made even more bothersome when you need to display thumbnails of your image files.
This application gets staple OCR tasks done much more cheaply that the competition, but fails to meet expectations when more complex jobs need to be executed, not providing any text editing features the competition unfortunately does. It’s not a terrible choice of automated OCR, but Omnipage Professional 27 is priced similarly and does as good a job; while Finereader remains the OCR Editor’s Choice, retails at $399 as well, and is a more flexible app that goes much further in meeting all your OCR needs.