Law Office Computing
Better Solution to Handling Office Document Tasks
Every now and then a new product comes along that revolutionizes the way we handle day-to-day office tasks. Email, the Palm Pilot and the fax are but a few very common examples. I have just finished evaluating a new product from Visioneer called the One Touch 8650 Desktop Scanner. The 8650 has a built in automatic document feeder that scans 50 pages at a time including legal sized documents. Bundled with the scanner are six software programs that are incredibly useful. PaperPort Deluxe is a product that I have talked about before and it provides a terrific way of organizing documents of all types. It provides the on screen front end for the use of the scanner. Textbridge Pro is an optical character reading [OCR] program that turns scanned documents into useable, editable, formatted text and is viewed by many as the best of breed. Both of these products are included with the scanner.
In addition, the software supplied with the scanner provides an extremely powerful set of photo editing tools including the simplest color control program I have ever seen. The scanner does an outstanding job of capturing photographs of all kinds and when hooked up to one of the modern printers such as the HP DeskJet 930C, it produces photo quality copies of your photographs.
PaperPort automatically builds graphical links to a broad variety of applications. It will search your computer to see which of the linkable applications you have and then create an icon at the bottom of the page that allows you to drag and drop your document into the appropriate category. Thus after having scanned a letter you can drop the image into the Outlook button and it will produce an email box with an attachment you can send out directly. PaperPort runs over your network so it is easy to file your documents and images in the same way you would organize your paper documents.
One of the most useful pieces of software is called FormTyper, a very clever program that automatically converts a scanned form into an electronic form that can be filled out on screen. Once it has been filled out it can be printed or faxed or even attached to an email by simply dragging the filled out form down to the bar across where your various applications are stored. I saved the best for last. The thing that I find most powerful about this scanner is the one touch system. OneTouch allows me to put a document into the scanner and then press a button that will email, OCR, fax or copy the document completely automatically. I find the faxing capability alone worth the price of the scanner. Email attachments can be sent in a Windows Bitmap Format so they can be viewed by anyone running Windows 95 or above. Faxing is as simple as installing Winfax on your machine, which will then automatically link up, with PaperPort. To send a fax you simply insert the document into the machine and press the button. It scans the document and attaches it to a cover sheet and sends it out over your modem. It is absolutely painless! And what do you pay for this powerful suite of hardware and software? I found it on the Internet for under $260. That is an absolutely remarkable, stunning bargain for such a high quality piece of equipment. And, its little sister the OneTouch 8600 (without the document feeder) is regularly available for a hundred dollars less. Various features that I have described have become a part of my day-to-day office operation. The One Touch System is exactly what it purports to be – that is a way of compressing three or four steps using different pieces of software and machines into a single one button press that allows your job to be completed with couple of mouse click. The 8600 can connect to your computer with either a USB or a parallel port, the USB being only available for machines running Windows 98 or Windows 2000. Machines running Windows 98 or Windows NT4 are limited to a parallel port connection. Visioneer recommends a minimum of 32mgs of RAM, 70 mgs of available hard drive space, and a CD ROM. If you really want this product to reach it’s maximum potential I would suggest that you get at least 128 mgs of RAM. In addition in order to maximize the usefulness of the machine, you need a modern color printer, which allows you to make color copies of documents that are extraordinarily good, and a fax modem with the appropriate software in order to do the one touch faxing which I have just described.
I have only one word of warning. The MGI Photo Suite II SE Software will convert all of your image files to the Photo Suite format. If you wish to retain your existing file type designations you will need to change them back after you have installed Photo Suite. It is unfortunate that MGI, which is one of the leading companies in regard to desktop, video, and imaging, does not allow the installer to choose to retain existing formats. In all events it is not hard to undo what Photo Suite automatically does and the product itself is very, very good. The better solution is to buy the newest retail version of PhotoSuite, Version 4.0, which allows you to select which image files you wish to associate with PhotoSuite and which you wish to leave to your existing software. The default is to leave your system intact, which is what you should do until you have used the software. The new Platinum Version 4 of PhotoSuite has just been released and I have it under active review. It looks very good and has some important features that I will discuss in a later article. In all events, PhotoSuite 4 should be available over the Internet for around $50 by the time you read this. PhotoSuite 4 is a very good investment in the development of your photographic and other image handling skills.