- Improved speed and accuracy
- high-end PDF tools
- supports tables and forms
- hand-printing recognition
- Workgroups will probably need the more expensive Corporate version
- no business card scanning
Readiris Pro 10 from I.R.I.S. takes over from the basic optical character recognition programs (OCR) that are bundled with most desktop scanners. After recognising your documents, which takes just a few seconds, you than have an editable copy of it. The software supports scanned paper documents, PDF files and all popular image file formats, and can turn them into word processor, spreadsheet, PDF, HTML or XML files, providing compatibility with a wide range of programs.
The software is available in two versions: the Professional version reviewed here; and a more expensive Corporate Edition (£225 ex. VAT). Readiris Pro 10 is targeted at individuals small workgroups users, whereas the Corporate version meets the needs of larger organisations -- in particular those requiring high-volume scans. For instance, the Corporate Edition supports batch separation in documents, document indexing based on barcode reading, XML index generation, optimised PDF generation with embedded JPEG 2000, and a new direct saving of scanned documents in JPEG 2000 and PDF format. Duplex scanners are also supported, and it scans and recognises business cards.
I.R.I.S. has tidied up the software’s interface, making it easier to use. The new status window gives you information about your scanned documents (source, resolution, times, image processing and so on) and better support for image formats means the software can read the most popular image formats, such as JPEG 2000 and DjVu files. The software can now recognise hand-printed text -- a unique feature based on the company’s ICR (Intelligent Character Recognition) engine. Hand-printing recognition is limited to numerals, uppercase and separated letters (AZ) and some punctuation symbols (comma, dot and hyphen).
Other key improvements include support for Microsoft's new WordML format, allowing you to generate richer editing and formatting documents compared to regular RTF. And four types of PDF output are now available: image over text, text over image, text or image only.
When it comes to inputting and recognising a document, you can select how you want the result to appear in your new document: continuous running text; retaining words and paragraphs (font type, size and typestyle are maintained across the recognition, plus tabs and alignment); or a facsimile of the original document, with text blocks, tables, graphics, bulleted and number lists recreated in the same place.
Tabular data is output to spreadsheets and word processors, and you can even use columns instead of frames to allow the recognised text to be edited. There’s also a new interval scanning mode that lets you define the right timespan between two scans so you can comfortably place a new page on your scanner; this is great for scanning books or other bulky material on a flatbed scanner.
Readiris Pro 10 is an excellent application, but its recognition of hand-written material is disappointing -- especially considering the company’s bold claims. In our tests, the accuracy rate was only around 85 percent. However, results can be improved by avoiding retracing and broken characters, and by not creating open loops in letters that should be closed. Speed and accuracy in the other standard OCR tests was much better. For instance, it took just 45 seconds to convert a 15-page document into a text file, with very few errors.