ScanSoft OmniPage Professional 15 review

£283
Price when reviewed

OmniPage Professional 15 is the most expensive product here and, at first glance, it isn’t clear why. The first problem we had was auto-zoning with a page of PC Pro. It’s a relatively complex document, including a couple of pictures with textboxes, but the page produced without user intervention was all but illegible. Screenshots of Windows were converted into small text and image boxes, and the auto-zoning sliced off the edges of textboxes. The text that was captured was flawless, however.

Rezoning our documents using the manual tools was a pain. Unlike Readiris, which allows very fine adjustments to be made, the smallest move possible with OmniPage is about five pixels. It may not sound like a problem, but it’s too large a jump to make when an image and textbox are immediately adjacent.

Less straightforward fonts, such as italicised Times New Roman, dropped the accuracy level significantly, but recognition of more standard fonts was perfect – OmniPage got each word verbatim. Also, running eight randomly orientated pages through our ADF (automatic document finder) proved that OmniPage has no trouble with automatically rotating pages, and it also flew through small fonts, reliably recognising sizes as small as 8pt. Even a TIFF of a faxed document, which totally flummoxed both of the other OCR packages this month, survived recognition and, while not perfect, means you’ll be able to at least make a start on old and damaged documents.

So far so good, but how does OmniPage justify its high price? It’s worth pointing out that OmniPage 15 (without the Professional tag) costs around the same as the other two packages on review, but the Professional version adds an array of useful extra features.

Both versions of OmniPage have a Workflow Manager, which allows you to automate a process and save the steps involved – for instance, scan a document, recognise it, then save it both to an FTP site and a local folder as a variety of files. OmniPage Professional lets you schedule these workflows in the Batch Manager, which can be run separately from the program. You can set up folder watching, so the software is able to keep an eye on a remote folder and automatically recognise and process all the image and PDF files that arrive in it before deleting the original files. You can also set up the Batch Manager to save the final files in a time-stamped folder, so you know when they were generated. It’s even possible to set up a batch to run at a certain time, which is useful for high-volume offices: a heavy-duty scanner can work all day, before the PC automatically processes all of the resultant images at night.

It’s this sort of office that will benefit most from OmniPage Professional. It offers better recognition than Readiris, and can even handle faxed documents, but the main reason to buy it is if you need to use OCR in volume. For processing forms or archiving documents while keeping the process intervention-free, OmniPage Professional 15 outstrips both of the other packages on test. It’s also worth bearing in mind that it’s the only package here to provide network administrators with the means to install the software remotely. Also, if you own any copy of OmniPage Professional from version 11, the lower upgrade price applies.

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