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Imaging/OCR SW/HW

Jim P.
Jim P. asked
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My sister is wanting to setup a system to scan in documents, bills, etc. and store them so she can get rid of the paper in her life.

She has a netbook and it is is WinXP. I'm thinking along the lines of an external hard drive, (preferably) a laser printer. My questions are on the scanner and the OCR/Imaging SW.
Scanner SetupThe scanner needs to be fairly durable and preferably a sheet feeder for speed. I'd like a suggestion for a combo of speed and price on the scanner.

The other half of the equation is the imaging/OCR SW.  I prefer to have something that is not proprietary (i.e. the information is saved in standard formats (jpg, pdf, tif, etc.)) but can catalog the output. Again a balance point between cost and ease of use.

I know what I can do for myself, but I worked with all this stuff professionally. I'm looking for a medium to low level setup for a relatively common/casual user.

My sister is not a total computer novice, but definitely would be the asker not the expert here. ;-)
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Inexpensive solution. Installed one at clients office recently.
I believe OCR software included.

HP LaserJet Pro M1212nf MFP Printer

HP All In One Laser Printer Scanner
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Commented:
If you haven't already purchased the laser printer, one idea is to go with an all-in-one/multi-function device. I've had numerous Brother MFC (Multi-Function Center) machines during many years and they've all performed well, and are reasonably priced. The laser printing function comes in both B&W and color (the scanning is always B&W/color/grayscale capable). They are nearly always bundled with a version of PaperPort for imaging/scanning and if you get a newer model, it will likely have PaperPort version 12, which includes built-in OCR (so does version 14, but that's so new that I doubt if it's being bundled yet with scanners – yes, they got superstitious and skipped 13). PaperPort makes industry standard PDF files with both the scanned image and a layer of text created automatically by the built-in OCR. PaperPort calls this a PDF Searchable Image file, because the text created is, indeed, searchable (may be indexed and searched by PaperPort's built-in All-In-One Search feature, or by third-party search products, such as dtSearch, X1, and Windows Search 4). PaperPort can also scan to many other industry standard formats, including BMP, JPG, TIFF, et al.

There are many different models (and prices) of Brother MFCs. There are numerous features to consider – USB connection, wired Ethernet connection, wired/wireless connection, B&W/color printing, simplex/duplex scanning, simplex/duplex printing, speed of scanning, speed of printing, etc. For starters, I suggest going to Amazon and doing a search for <brother mfc>. This will show a lot of hits worth studying. And the Brother website has a treasure trove of info:
http://www.brother-usa.com/mfc/#.TrNpD7JU1Bk

If you want a separate printer and scanner, then I think a great choice for the scanner is the Fujitsu ScanSnap series. They are consistently among the highest rated scanners. They bundle all of the scanning/imaging software you'll need, including an excellent OCR package (ABBYY FineReader), as well as a full copy of Adobe Acrobat (not merely Adobe Reader). The only downside is that they don't have a TWAIN driver, but since all of the software is included, this is not an issue for most folks, and I'm sure it would not be a problem for your sister. It also produces industry standard files, including searchable PDFs. Once again, start at Amazon and search for <fujitsu scansnap>. You'll find numerous models and can study the costs vs. benefits/features. Then hit the Fujitsu website for more details:
http://www.fujitsu.com/us/services/computing/peripherals/scanners/scansnap/

Regards, Joe
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Commented:
in MS word there was also a document imaging option, if you don't have the OCR software  
you can install it on office 2010 :  http://support.microsoft.com/kb/982760/nl
Joe WinogradDeveloper
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Commented:
That's a great point by nobus. Microsoft Office Document Imaging (MODI) is also available in Office 2003 and Office 2007. Here's a link to some good info about it:
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/CH001000118.aspx?CTT=97

Note the section called Performing Optical Character Recognition. Btw, the OCR capabilities in MODI (and other elements of MODI) are OEM'ed from Nuance. Here's a link talking about upgrading to ScanSoft's OmniPage Pro (ScanSoft acquired Nuance in 2005 and changed the name of the merged company to Nuance):
http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/help/about-upgrading-optical-character-recognition-HP003081260.aspx

The PaperPort product I mentioned above is also from Nuance (ScanSoft) and its OCR capabilities utilize the SDK of OmniPage.

I don't know if all of this info is relevant for your sister's situation, but since you worked with all of this stuff professionally, it will give you good food for thought. Regards, Joe
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Commented:
I went with  a Brother Printer MFC7860DW, a D-Link DUB-H7 USB hub, and a Seagate 500 GB external.

Thank you all for your advice.
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Commented:
Since this was an opinion Q, I'm awarding all posters.

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