Caere – OmniPage Pro 9.0 review

optical character recognition for scanners
Photo of Caere – OmniPage Pro 9.0
£395 + VAT (£67 + VAT upgrade)

Anyone who’s bought a scanner and attempted to use it to convert printed documents into editable text will no doubt have been sorely disappointed. The majority of the ‘lite’ optical character recognition products supplied with scanners are useful only for processing plain, unformatted text. Show them a table, form, columns, italic font or picture and they run for the hills, metaphorically speaking. So a big market has sprung up for proper OCR tools, and OmniPage Pro is one of the big ‘uns.

Installation is straightforward: choose from a list of 13 different languages (for proofing purposes) or install them all, then select your scanner. OmniPage Pro 9.0 supports some scanners directly, others via ISIS and whatever’s left via the good old TWAIN interface. Once loaded, the program’s friendly interface will either take you through the OCR process in hand-holding fashion, or you can choose to do it all yourself. There’s an impressive range of features available for getting the most accurate scan, including an advanced zoning tool that can handle more than just rectangles and a function for straightening crooked scans.

Pictures can be preserved, and even edited with your favourite application, and tables are recognised too. Once the text processing operation has been completed, the result is checked (with user interaction if necessary) for accuracy using the supplied dictionaries. If you prefer it, the scanning process can be closely integrated with Microsoft Word, and that includes dictionary sharing. Alternatively, processed text can be output in a number of word-processor and spreadsheet formats, or even as HTML. Included in the box is a copy of PageKeeper Standard, a document archiving tool for desktop PCs.

Company: Caere

Contact: 020 7233 6677

Caere claims over 99 percent accuracy for OmniPage Pro 9.0, and with all the options switched on it certainly seems pretty close. Tables and columns are recognised as such, pictures are either kept or discarded (you choose) and the zoning system works well. The full retail price is a joke, but Caere knows that anyone with any sense will exchange the 'lite' pack supplied with their scanner for the more sensibly-priced upgrade version.