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.
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.
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.:
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.
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+.
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 . . .
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.