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Nuance OmniPage Professional 16

If your business converts stacks of paper into PDF and other electronic document formats on a regular basis, you need a full-featured optical character recognition program--not one of the limited packages that typically come bundled with scanners. Nuance's OmniPage Pro 16, which offers impressive tools for converting, proofing, and editing documents, is an excellent choice for offices and workgroups with high-volume OCR chores.

At $450 (street), OmniPage Pro 16 costs more than competing OCR products such as the $400 Iris ReadIris Pro 11 Corporate Edition and the $400 Abbyy FineReader Pro 8, but Nuance sweetens the deal by including a useful document manager (ScanSoft PaperPort Standard 11) and a separate PDF-conversion utility (ScanSoft PDF Create 4) at no extra cost.

The OmniPage shipping version that I tested was notably impressive in converting a variety of document types, including business reports, spreadsheets, forms, and book and magazine pages--typically with 99 percent accuracy. My samples included both simple and complex page layouts (two or more columns of printed text wrapped around a graphic, for example), which OmniPage converted into numerous file types, including various flavors of PDF, XPS, and the latest XML file formats used by Microsoft Office 2007 applications.

OmniPage Professional 16 features a new architecture that supports multicore processors and now provides three different interface options. The new QuickConvert View is ideal for novices, making it easy to set up and complete large document-conversion jobs, such as converting 30 pages of a printed financial report into an RTF file with just a few clicks. For veteran users, the new Flexible View lets you rearrange the program toolboxes and function panels to suit your task the best. Other enhancements include new marking and redaction tools that block out or obscure text (useful for making confidential information unreadable and unsearchable), and new workflow tools for automatic data extraction when converting filled forms. I was also pleased to see how well OmniPage converted text in digital photos (captured from large open books), using its improved ability to correct for page curve and angle distortion.

OmniPage continues to excel at batch processing, and at providing conversion tools that minimize the work involved in repetitive OCR-scanning jobs. Using the new File-It Assistant and Workflow Assistant wizards, I could easily define custom jobs to automate scanning documents into different formats and store them in specific folders.

Anyone in the paper-pushing business who must handle constant OCR tasks can benefit from the productivity gains that OmniPage Pro 16 offers. The new interface options; enhanced marking, forms, and digital text tools; and added support for the latest file formats also make this OmniPage version a worthwhile upgrade.

--Richard Jantz

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