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Sep 27 2008

A Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 11


PaperPort is an application that allows the average user to try to organize their electronic documents.  Whether that the pictures are imported or scanning documents, the program facilitates the function of trying to organize all this information with the efforts of trying to give the user a usable interface to do certain things with those documents, such as send e-mail and post to the web.

Pretty much anyone can use it. Only those who really want organize their stuff or make the effort to are going to try to use it. This application is not focused on business customers because the program offers no notable security options of it’s own; it only offers the security of the Windows Operating System. There is a mention of PDF security, but you can get that with most freeware programs that handle PDF. There is no internal user security in the program.

Out of the box the program doesn’t really offer anything fancy. The information is presented in a folder/tree structure the show the hierarchy of the organization [my preference]. The program will add some basic [print, Microsoft paint, Notepad, FTP/web publishing, FAX and OCR] interfaces, but nothing more than you would get with the standard OPEN/WITH option from the context menus [excluding OCR]. The web publishing is restricted to basically local, FTP or AOL [too corporate for me].

The program allows for creating tool-bar buttons to other applications, but those options have to be added manually and in some case the integrations don’t work. Whether it be PP11 or the other application. This is where plug-ins would be great.

If you are using the Nuance the ‘OneTouch Monitor’ you have options to press a button on the scanner and have the scanned image placed directly in to the application, but that program is not very flexible, it’s slow in transferring the image to PP11 and a majority of the time scanned images are saved as MAX file [a proprietary file format that only PaperPort can read].

A MAX file reader can be downloaded [ftp://ftp.scansoft.com/pub/program/paperport/setupex.exe] from the Nuance website [it doesn't integrate to windows to preview images [like PDF, JPG]] and there doesn’t seem to be a current version listed on the website. At the time of this post the links to download the viewer didn’t work; I had to hunt around for this one.

The PP11 program does offer some basic image enhancements rotate, straighten, crop, red eye removal…But these are all included with just about every freeware program on the internet.

The program tries to make and effort to put a plethora of options at your finger tips to work with your documents/images, but the reality is that the application is just running off the back of windows it’s self; with just little benefit to a user that knows how to right click. Windows offers interfaces to PDF and image files, but you get a very similar interface with Windows and the context menus can launch the same functions as Paperport if certain programs are installed. The programs image viewing is based on creating a thumbnail database per folder. Therefore taking in new images is very slow. Other programs that just read the files, have better [performance].

PP11 Feature Option Alternatives:

Fax
Most programs allow you to print to a Microsoft FAX.

OCR image to text [notepad/wordpad/Microsoft word]
SimpleOCR [http://www.simpleocr.com/] provides a free alternative to convert images to text. Paperport comes with TextBridge [basic]. I tried SIMPLEOCR a few months ago; it wasn’t bad at all.

FTP/Web Publishing
FileZilla is a great way to publish information to the web for FTP. The web publishing in Paperport is old, it does not do anything for web posts/blogs or social networks. FTP is not really that popular these days anyway. Other image/picture managing programs like ‘Picasa’ has a option to post images to a Google blog account. For the investment in PaperPort, they offer nothing in this area or plug-ins to be more friendly. There’s no way to allow for expansion and that’s sad because technology is changing everyday and allowing for special functions is what users are looking for.

Email
Simply right clicking a file in Windows you can email a file. PP11 Doesn’t offer straight interfaces with some of the most popular email programs, but it seems to work perfectly with Outlook and Outlook Express [seems too obvious]. If you don’t have Outlook installed the program doesn’t even offer a email button initially; it has to be added manually. Just about every image viewer has a email option. Example: the uber-popular email client Mozilla Thunderbird is not compatible with PP11 and Nuance has made no effort to resolve this after being on the market for an extensive amount of time.

Nuance provides support via phone, email and free knowledge base search. The email support is $9.95 per incident. Phone support requests are $19 to $35 depending on how bad things get. They do offer one free support forum [DNS 10; by 'Scansoft' ironically]. Current standards would suggest the idea to have forums per product; customers helping customer [but there's no money to be made in that].

All this information boils down to cost versus usefulness. The cost of PaperPort 11 is $199.00. If this program was not included with certain scanners, it wouldn’t be very popular. Because of the lack of security for document handling it shouldn’t be deployed in a business environment. Nuance provides no way for expansion on the product by not being able to handle plug-ins. It doesn’t offer any extensive benefit over a program like Picasa, XNVIEW, IRFANVIEW or DocsVault [all free programs]. If not for the user being captive of the MAX files there’s no real reason for a user to stay or pay for a program like this. What should be offered to customers is ease of use, flexibility and performance. The consensus is that free alternatives can easily replace PaperPort and keep some money in your pocket.

Save that money and buy a new video card and go frag someone.

Regards,
NapoleonAG



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A Techie Review: Nuance PaperPort 11

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