ScanSofts OmniPage Pro 12 office software shows how far optical character recognition capabilities have come. The package, which was released last month, automates many of the tedious tasks associated with converting paper documents into electronic files.
Small and midsize businesses in the financial, legal and medical fields, as well as government agencies, will likely get the most out of OmniPage Pro, which lists for $599 (upgrades are $199).
I imported several files with varied types of content to determine how OmniPage Pro handles graphics, text columns, spreadsheets and tables. In tests, it was extremely proficient at retaining document layouts and at distinguishing between text column zones and graphics. OmniPage Pro automatically generated outlines around the text and graphics and labeled them with an icon to identify each type.
I discovered another plus of the software by accident: OmniPage Pro was able to recover my files after an application crashed. When I restarted OmniPage, I had the option of recovering the files: All were intact when the application completed its restoration.
OmniPage also makes proofreading easier with its new Verifier tool, which compares suspect text with the original document to verify that the text was recognized properly. Verifier enables the user to compare the actual image containing the source word or line.
To make editing more pleasant, users can tap OmniPages proprietary RealSpeak Voice Read-Back feature to have a document read back. I found this to be a useful feature. In addition to English, the languages available in this feature are French, German, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
New in this version, OmniPage Pro can be used to process volumes of documents into XML for enterprise database document sharing. It also supports the Open eBook format for standard viewing on Web browsers, Pocket PCs and the Tablet PC.
Once documents are edited, they can be saved in most popular formats, including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, HTML 4, PDF and PageMaker.
OmniPage Pro 12 Office is compatible with Windows 98 SE, 2000, ME, XP and Windows NT 4.0, SP 6.0 or higher.
More information can be found at www.scansoft.com.