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July/August 2007 Issue | Volume 33 Number 5 | Page 30
Technology

Product Watch

Technology In Practice. What Works? Who Gets It?

The skinny on a slim new pen scanner and more product news.

As a practice management advisor, I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting tools that can bring ease and convenience to lawyers’ work lives. One device that recently caught my eye is the Planon DocuPen RC 800 portable color scanner. It is an extremely small, portable, lightweight color scanner that, unlike similarly sized pen scanners, is able to scan a full 8.5 x 11-inch page in a single pass. Sounds good—but does it work? Here’s what I learned when I took it for a test-drive.

The DocuPen RC800 comes bundled with everything that you need to use the scanner and download images to your computer, including a copy of PaperPort SE version 9. The “Quick Start Guide” instructions that come with the package are a little sketchy, but they provide the basics for installing the DocuPen application and PaperPort SE. An accompanying CD-ROM provides useful instructions for scanning. The CD-ROM also includes demonstration videos showing the use of the scanner in different settings, but they would be better if they actually demonstrated how to use the scanner.

The concept behind this scanner is a good one. Rather than scan line by line or stitch together two image halves like the old HP Capshare E-920 hand scanner, the RC800 captures the entire page width using an 8-inch-wide scanning surface wrapped in a compact body. The scanner relies on a series of rollers on its bottom to roll across the page and to provide alignment calibration for the captured image. However, this method does make the unit extremely sensitive to changes in direction and scanning speed, and it took me quite a bit of practice to start getting usable results from my scans. I obtained the best results from scanning flat sheets of paper that had not been folded. I found that scanning paper that had folds could easily interfere with the scan because the rollers had a problem in handling the “bump” caused by the fold. Scanning magazines also proved problematic because of the raised edge caused by the middle fold.

Operation of the unit is simple and relies on two buttons on the top to control the color mode and scanning resolution settings that are controlled by the application software. Using the DocuPen application, you can change the default settings affecting color depth and resolution, which are then uploaded to the scanner. The scanner buttons allow you to select between these saved settings. Scanner resolution varies between 100 dpi to 400 dpi. Using the higher resolution uses more memory—and even more so if one of the two color modes are also used. In black-and-white mode, I had no problems getting more than 50 full-page images on the scanner. However, using the color modes rapidly filled the scanner’s memory with just one or two half-page images. Upgrading the onboard memory will be a must. Luckily, Planon has made this simple by allowing users to add memory through the use of readily available SD Mini cards.

I am definitely impressed with the features that Planon has squeezed into such a small package, and if you don’t have room for a USB-connected sheet-fed scanner, then the DocuPen RC800 may be the answer for your portable scanning needs if you can afford the almost $300 price tag. However, there are things not to like about this unit as well.

Scorecard. So with a maximum possible total score of 20, here is how I rate it:

Ease of Use3
Quality of Materials4
Feature Set4
Value for Cost4
Total Score15

 


Product News


 

[Performance Monitoring Software ]

The latest release of Elite Business Intelligence, Version 2.2, from Thomson Elite, can help firm leaders effectively gain even greater business intelligence insights. Now compliant with the Unicode character standard, the new version adds important functionality and flexibility for firms with global operations. The number of universes or data marts within the solution has been consolidated to effectively balance ease of use with the ability to pull reports quickly. Now users can more easily find the metrics and analytics they want, and data is easier to aggregate into custom reports. Version 2.2 features a “promptless” reporting capability, which automatically updates parameters according to rules that a user needs to set up only once. For example, a report can be created that always returns last month’s work-in-process. The report knows what date range to specify, without manual prompts from the user each time the information is refreshed. This centralized control reduces maintenance and allows for the full automation of month-end reports. In addition, the working timekeeper calendar lets organizations personalize employee productivity measurements by assigning a work schedule standard to each user. Billable hours are tracked and compared to the timekeeper’s personal goal, which ensures that utilization reports are meaningful. www.elite.com

[One-Step Contacts Resources ]

CQ Press has launched two online collections for government affairs and law library professionals. The CQ Press Government Affairs Collection brings together information across CQ’s many government affairs products to give users one online collection, including free remote access to congressional and media contacts from any portable device with an Internet connection; the entire Congressional Staff Directory (more than 15,000 contacts); the Almanac of Federal PACs (over 1,300 PACS); the Media Contact Directory (over 35,000 contacts); and the Federal Staff Directory (over 40,000 contacts). The CQ Press Law Library Collection also provides vital information for law firms, including Your Nation’s Courts Online (more than 20,000 court contacts); Practice Advance Marketing Monitor (tracking key marketing activity from the top 750 firms); the Media Contact Directory (over 35,000 contacts); the Judicial Staff Directory (over 25,000 contacts); and free remote access to media contacts from any portable device with an Internet connection. www.cqpress.com

[Speedier Tables of Authority ]

Levit & James, Inc. has released Best Authority 2.0, a major upgrade to its software for producing a table of authority (TOA). With Version 2.0, Best Authority users will notice a greatly enhanced citation-recognition engine, as well as many new features that increase the processing speed and the flexibility of TOA formats. In addition, a new wizard interface and reorganized menus significantly reduce training time. Best Authority makes the work faster and easier, no matter how many people are involved with the TOA, or how the work flow is organized. www.levitjames.com

[Free to Be …Comfortable ]

You tweak. You adjust. You shiver. You sweat. You rummage. You futz. Herman Miller has noticed. Its new Be Collection offers essential ingredients for personalized comfort to help fine-tune your environment. Among the components are fully adjustable screen, keyboard and mouse support mechanisms, task lighting, a C2 climate control device and sound management tools. Three different keyboard trays are available: plastic, molded urethane or aluminum. And all of the Be Collection mechanisms follow Herman Miller’s Design for the Environment protocol and are 100 percent recyclable.

[Extra Power Portability ]

APC Universal Notebook Batteries provide your notebook computer with extra run time from a single external battery pack. These batteries are lightweight and slim for maximum portability, perfect for situations when you won't be near power outlets for extended periods of time, like on a plane, in a meeting or on the road. These Universal Notebook Batteries have selectable output voltages and come with a variety of notebook tips, making them compatible with most notebook computers. In addition to stand-alone use, these batteries are the perfect complement to the APC family of notebook cases and universal power adapters. Together, these products give the mobile professional maximum availability to power no matter where you go. www.apc.com

[Integrated Mail Tracking and Management ]

Océ Business Services has unveiled a unique solution that integrates its Océ ATS (Automated Tracking Software) System with the Océ MAX business performance management system. The integration enables users to annually track millions of pieces of inbound, outbound and accountable interoffice mail as well as overnight and courier deliveries. The result is an improved ability to reduce the costs and errors associated with manual mail processing and to better manage vendor services. Key benefits of Océ’s ATS System include tracking capabilities that extend from the requestor’s desktop to recipients’ desktops across the enterprise between cities and countries, as well as performance management capabilities to track compliance against key indicators by package type. Océ Business Services is a leading provider of document process management services and technology to law firms, corporations and the public sector, with a spectrum of managed solutions that spans the document life cycle.
www.ocesolutions.com

About the Author

Nerino J. Petro, Jr. is a legal technologist and the Practice Management Advisor for the State Bar of Wisconsin. A former practicing attorney, he blogs on legal technology and practice management issues at Compujurist.

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