Review: Zcan+ Full Featured Mouse Scanner

zcan+ scanner

What if you could find a scanner that would scan photos, scan documents and OCR (convert) the scanned text, scan a printed table into an Excel file, scan foreign language text and translate it to English, and also let you share your scans to Facebook and Twitter or send the scan right to Dropbox or Evernote? And what if this scanner was also your mouse? I’m not describing an “if” scenario or even a “when” scenario – such a scanner exists and it is the Zcan+ scanner available at Shop the Hound.

Overview

When I first received the Zcan+ scanner, I was skeptical that it would be able to perform all of the functions listed and do so quickly and efficiently. I already have a flat-bed scanner as well as a portable scanner, so I’m thinking, “Why would I need to hook up another device – another mouse, at that – and what could it do for me that other apps or devices couldn’t or wouldn’t do?”

Not only was I surprised at how quickly the Zcan+ installed on my desktop computer, but I was able to start scanning document and photos within five minutes.

Installation

Following the directions that come with the Zcan+, I loaded the CD/DVD and ran the setup.exe file before plugging the Zcan+ mouse into a USB port. When prompted, I connected the Zcan+ mouse and then I was up and running.

Note: I left my other mouse plugged in and installed (a Logitech wheel mouse) and both worked with no conflicts. Also, the Zcan+ will work with USB 3.0 but my older Dell desktop has USB 2.0, and again, no conflicts.

Here are more details on the minimum requirements in terms of operating system, etc.:

zcan+ tech specs

Basic Scanning

I took an old photo of my 1st cousins twice removed – Evelyn and Raymond Mehl – and placed it inside the plastic Scan Pad which comes with the Zcan+ scanner. I could have scanned right on top of the photo, but since you have to “drag” the mouse over the photo, I didn’t want to make direct contact with it and possibly damage the photo – so the plastic barrier helped.

zcan+ scanning photo

As you can see from the video below, I clicked the Scan button and then slowly dragged the mouse from left to right, then down and right to left until the entire image was scanned. The process was a bit awkward at first but I found the Zcan+ to be very forgiving: at one point I stopped and lifted up the mouse by mistake. I was able to just pick up where I left off and the Zcan+ program figured out what had already been scanned and added the new content.

Once I was done, the image appeared in “edit” mode and I could crop the edges, change color and brightness, etc. with the tools in the software that comes with the Zcan+.

zcan+ scanned photo

Once I clicked OK and a processing of less than a minute, I had several file options in the lower left corner: TIFF, JPG, PNG, even Microsoft Word!. I could save the file in these formats or do even more . . .

zcan+ file formats

Sharing Scans and Apps

Once the scan was completed, I could use the Share menu to send the scan to Facebook along with a message. The first time I shared on Facebook, I had to enter my credentials but I could then have Zcan+ remember them for future use. Other share options include Flickr, Twitter and email.

zcan+ share scan on Facebook

There are some neat options available in the Apps menu including sending the file to Dropbox or Evernote. Once sent to Evernote, as seen below, the Zcan+ tag is added so it is easy to find the note and then retag it or place it in a desired notebook.

zcan 05

Other App options include Google Search by Image (allows you to upload the scan and look for matches in Google Images) as well as using Google Translate (see below).

Scanning Tables

One of the most frustrating issues with scanning text in table or column format, is the way in which most OCR programs read the text. There is quite a bit of cleanup to be done and sometimes it is easier just to type the text.

I took a page from a 1960s church history which listed sponsors in one column and their location in another.

zcan+ scanned table

I scanned the page using the Zcan+ and after clicking OK and being presented with the file icons in the lower left, I opened the Excel format.

zcan+ scanned table in Excel

I was pleasantly surprised that all the text was legible and each entry in the first column was in its own cell. The contents of the second column were placed in the cells below, but I could easily cut and paste them to be in Column B as shown below. This was a big time saver and I could see using this feature for various indexes to be scanned for my genealogy research.

Scanning Text and Translating Foreign Text

Another nice feature is the ability of the Zcan+ to scan foreign text and then connect you to Google Translate to convert the text to English (or your desired language). I took a copy of Pablo Neruda’s Soneto XVII also known as “Red Poppy” or “I Do Not Love You” in Spanish and scanned the poem.

Once clicking OK and being presented with the file format icons, I clicked Apps and then Google Translate. The text was placed in the left screen using Detect Language and then I specified English and had a translation – easy peasy!

zcan+ scanned foreign language text

One issue with Google Translate: if there amount of text is very large, you’ll receive an error message – this is a Google function and not an issue with the Zcan+ software. When this happened, I clicked the Edit menu and selected Copy text then pasted it manually into Google Translate.

Conclusion

The Zcan+ scanner is a solid piece of equipment and its multi-function capabilities really fill in the gaps in terms of my everyday tools for my business and my genealogy research. I’ve been using it to scan receipts once I am home from a speaking engagement trip and I send them right to Evernote. If I find a passage in a book that I want to “clip” for later research, I don’t need to move all the junk off my flatbed scanner (you know what I’m talking about!) or pull out the portable scanner (which has its limits especially with a bound book. I just scan, click OK then send to Evernote or Dropbox and I can retrieve it later.

If it were up to me, I’d change two things on the Zcan+: I’d have a wireless option instead of a cord. Also, I’d have a larger scan pad and clearer plastic (perhaps with some replacement sheets. And while I’m at it . . . how about the ability to scan handwriting and decipher it? I know, for any scanner that would be a stretch . . .

For me, the Zcan+ is more than just a “tech toy” and I know I’ll be using it each and every day. In fact, I think I can now get rid of my Logitech mouse and I’ll revel in all that the Zcan+ scanner can do.

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The Zcan+ scanner is available from Shop The Hound for $85 Canadian, and there are free shipping specials for buyers from Canada and the United States.

Disclosure statement: I have material connections with various vendors and organizations. To review the material connections I have in the genealogy industry, please see Disclosure Statements.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee.

Heartbleed and Genealogy Sites: What You Should Know

Heartbleed and Genealogy Sites

If you are wondering about the Heartbleed bug which is impacting websites and servers around the world, here is the latest information and how it may or may not be impacting your favorite genealogy website:

  • The Password Trick: Here is a system created to help you easily remember passwords:

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee

Interested in Self-Publishing Your Genealogy Research?

Self-Publishing Boot Camp

[Editor's Note: Readers of GeneaBloggers may not know that I also run the Hack Genealogy website which covers the latest in technology for genealogists and family historians. Every other month I team up with Lisa Alzo, of The Accidental Genealogist, and we offer a "boot camp" covering a popular topic such as writing, project management and this month, self-publishing.  Check out the info below and be sure to sign up soon . . . each and every Hack Genealogy Boot Camp in the past has SOLD OUT!]

* * *

Come join well-known genealogy educators Lisa Alzo and Thomas MacEntee as they team up to offer a unique education event: Self-Publishing Survival Guide! On Saturday, 22 March 2014, you’ll be able to learn from two experts on how to take your written genealogical research and publish it in both print and e-book format.

Are you all ready to publish on your own, but you don’t know where to start and have these questions?

  • What is the best self-publishing platform for me and my book?
  • Should I use a service that handles book cover design, marketing and more . . . or can I really do this all on my own?
  • Should I have a print version and an e-book version?
  • What are the formatting and document preparation requirements for both print and e-book self-publishing?

You’ll receive over 3 hours of educational content, handouts and freebies for the low price of $12.95! You’ll also receive access to the recorded versions of each webinar for up to one year!

Register by Monday, 17 March 2014 and receive $3 off the registration price for a low $9.95! Space is limited and if you register but can’t attend, you’ll still receive the handouts, the freebies and access to the recordings!

Space is limited and if you register but can’t attend, you’ll still receive the handouts, the freebies and access to the recordings!

Win A Free Registration!

That’s right. You could attend this Self-Publishing Boot Camp for free if you are selected as our Registration Rebate winner! Simply register and pay for the upcoming Boot Camp by the early-bird deadline of 17 March 2014. We’ll select one person from the list of registrants and refund their entire registration fee!  No contest forms to fill out! We’ll announce the winner here at Hack Genealogy on Tuesday 18 March 2014.

Schedule

  • 11:00 am EDT /10:00 am CDT
    Welcome / Meet & Greet
  • 11:15 am EDT / 10:15 am CDT
    DIY Publishing for the Family Historian: Tips, Tricks and Tools
    Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A.
  • 12:30 pm EDT/11:30 am CDT
    Break
  • 1:00 pm EDT /12:00 pm CDT
    Microsoft Word Secrets for Self-Publishing
    Thomas MacEntee
  • 2:30 pm EDT / 1:30 pm CDT
    Closing and Thank You

Webinars

DIY Publishing for the Family Historian: Tips, Tricks and Tools
Presented by:  Lisa A. Alzo, M.F.A.

Whether you’re a family historian looking to share information with your family, an aspiring author, or a society looking for cost-effective way to produce materials, this session is just what you need to get started with self-publishing. Learn tips and tricks for preparing your book from idea to print, and the basics about which software and online writing tools can help with the process. Various self-publishing/print-on-demand platforms including: CreateSpace, Lulu, Smashwords, Kindle, and more, will also be briefly discussed.*

*    Attendees will also receive a free Self-Publishing Checklist.

Microsoft Word Secrets for Self-Publishing
Presented by:  Thomas MacEntee

Preparing a written narrative extracted from your genealogy research may seem straightforward, even using a generally accepted document software like Microsoft Word*. But there are special considerations when it comes to self-publishing that narrative, in both print and e-book format. Learn the secrets to producing a formatted narrative that can easily be published on a variety of self-publishing platforms.**

*    Microsoft Word 2010 will be the version used during the webinar. Many, if not all, of the features are the same or similar on other versions of Word including 2007 and 2013.

**   Attendees will also receive access to a special Self-Publishing for Genealogists Toolbox – tons of links covering platforms, methods and tips!

Presenter Bios

Lisa Alzo

Lisa A. Alzo

Lisa A. Alzo is a freelance writer, instructor, and lecturer with over 20 years’ experience in the field of genealogy. She earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in Nonfiction Writing from the University of Pittsburgh, and is the author of nine books, including: Finding Your Slovak Ancestors, Writing Your Family History Book, and the award-winning Three Slovak Women. Lisa has written hundreds of articles and her work has appeared in Family Tree Magazine, Family Chronicle, Internet Genealogy, APG Quarterly, among others. An internationally recognized speaker, Lisa blogs as “The Accidental Genealogist” blog http://www.theaccidentalgenealogist.com. For more information see http://www.lisaalzo.com.

Thomas Mac Entee

Thomas Macentee

When he’s not busy writing blog posts, organizing the 3,000+ members of GeneaBloggers.com, teaching online genealogy webinars and more, Thomas MacEntee is busy in his role as “genealogy ninja.” Stealth is not easy, but he manages to get the inside track on emerging technologies and vendors as they relate to the genealogy industry. After being laid off from a 25-year career in the tech industry in 2008, Thomas has been able to “repurpose” his skill set for the genealogy community and loves to see other genealogists succeed, whether it is with their own research or building their own careers in the field.

How To Register

Ready to join in this great educational event? Here are the details on the registration process:




  • Click the button above to go to PayPal and make payment or click here. You do not need a PayPal account to make payment.
  • Once payment is processed and received, you will receive a confirmation email. You will also receive links to register for each webinar. You must register for both webinars if you want to participate in both webinars.
  • Then you’ll be reminded via e-mail at least one day prior to Boot Camp.
  • Within 24 hours of the start of Boot Camp, you’ll receive the passwords for each webinar as well as links to all the handouts and freebies to you can review them before we start.
  • After the webinars, all registrants will have access to the recordings for personal use for a period of one (1) year. Recordings will be hosted on Vimeo and set to play only on a specific page here at Hack Genealogy. A password will be required to access the video pages.

Questions? Email us at hackgenealogy@gmail.com.

Terms and Conditions

Please read the Terms and Conditions for all Hack Genealogy Boot Camp events before you pay and register! Click here for more information.

©2014, copyright Thomas MacEntee