In both my personal and professional life I have collected stacks of business cards. When I was offered the opportunity to review the Worldcard Link Pro business card scanner and software from Penpower, I jumped at the opportunity. Let’s see how it works.
Worldcard Link (WCL) is designed for use with 4th and 5th generation iPhones and iPod touch. This review was done on a 4th-gen iPod touch with 32GB of memory. I actually called Penpower support and confirmed with them that the iPod touch was a supported device.
The WCL comes nicely packaged with a CD for the PC software (Windows only), quick reference card, and activation cards with serial numbers for both the PC software and the iPhone app, quick start guide, registration card, Penpower catalog, and the dock. The dock is a USB device that serves as a dock, charger, and business card stand for taking camera shots of the cards. Both the computer and iPhone apps have a large number of features for syncing with iCloud, Google, and Outlook.
Installation of the PC software was straightforward from CD, and activation asks for a name, email, and the code. The app downloaded from the Apple App Store and installed without issue. One must manually go into setting to enter the registration code, or the app runs in the limited “free” mode. After finishing the installation, I grabbed a handful of business cards and installed the iPod on the dock.
After starting the app (Version 1.2.1, dated April 16, 2013), I went into dock mode and started taking pictures of the cards. I did 8 cards and then went into the card holder and transferred the images. Unfortunately, this where things started to break down. Even the simplest card was not recognized. I went to settings and turned on “enhance image”, also tried with taking pictures with the flash, and also tried the “re-recognize” function to no avail. One thing that I did notice was that the cards were magnified and not all of the text was in the field of view. After about ½ hour of trying to make this work, I decided to try another device.
I loaded the application on my wife’s iPhone 4S. This experience was much better. The cards were properly framed, the dock function allowed me to quickly run through another stack of cards and overall, the speed of the application was much faster. I then went to the card holder to check the recognition.
Though much better than on the touch, the text recognition was still disappointing on the iPhone. I would equate it to using voice recognition software; it will get you 95%+ of the way there but some cleanup will be required. Of the 10 cards I did on the iPhone, only the plainest card was perfect. All of the others had misreads, capitalization problems, or omitted text. The more ornate the font and artwork, the harder it was for the software to read.
Because I was unable to get good addresses on the iPod touch, I did not exercise any of the transfer or sync functions of the software. Because I had already activated the code, I could not activate again on the iPhone and the free software is limited to one recognition export a week. I was disappointed in what started out as a very good user experience. All in all, I think the Worldcard Link pro product is a solid effort. The user interfaces are good and the software installation experience sound. The recognition software is still a work in progress, and I hope further versions will improve in accuracy.