ABBYY FineReader 10 Professional Edition has some interface flaws, but there's no arguing the quality of its OCR, i.e. turning scanned images into editable digital documents. And since it does what it does so well, I'll give it a pass on how it gets there.

At £89 it's a deal cheaper than Adobe Acrobat X Pro. ABBYY FineReader 10 Professional Edition's main window consists of a column in which you see thumbnails of scanned documents, then two panes for larger previews of the current page and its OCR'd or in ABBYY's terms, "read" version.

Though not particularly slick, the ABBYY FineReader 10 Professional Edition interface does the job as well as any. There's a main toolbar for file and other basic operations across the top of the main window; however, I immediately got rid of it as the icons were overly large and there's no way to make them smaller. The edit toolbar was of manageable size. Fortunately, the language and concepts are easy to decipher so the program is largely easy to learn and use.

ABBYY FineReader 10 Professional Edition can open PDFs and a wide variety of image types for OCR, or scan documents directly with a TWAIN- or WIA-compliant scanner. It also has a number of image processing features such as cropping, noise removal, orientation correction, etc. The program saves to PDF (plain, editable, and searchable), .RTF, .CSV, .HTML, as well as a number of Microsoft Office types.

I tried OCR'ing several documents: a few with graphics, some straight newsletters, and a handful of book pages. The OCR was nearly 100% accurate, with only a small number of minor formatting errors. Anything the program is less than certain of will be highlighted, but even most of the highlighted sections were fine. Elements such as images and lines were all recreated and to be blunt, FineReader 10 Pro does the best job by a long shot recreating mixed-element documents of any OCR program I'm aware of - online or otherwise. ABBYY FineReader 10 Professional Edition doesn't do handwriting recognition, but no other OCR product does, either.

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ABBYY FineReader 10 Professional Edition: Specs

  • 1GHz or higher processor
  • Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, Server 2003, Server 2008, XP
  • 512MB available RAM
  • 650MB for typical program installation and 650MB for program operation
  • TWAIN- or WIA-compatible scanner, digital camera or fax-modem (optional)
  • Video card and monitor (1024×768 or higher)
  • Keyboard, mouse or other pointing device
  • 1GHz or higher processor
  • Microsoft Windows 7, Vista, Server 2003, Server 2008, XP
  • 512MB available RAM
  • 650MB for typical program installation and 650MB for program operation
  • TWAIN- or WIA-compatible scanner, digital camera or fax-modem (optional)
  • Video card and monitor (1024×768 or higher)
  • Keyboard, mouse or other pointing device

OUR VERDICT

Despite its somewhat clunky interface, ABBYY FineReader 10 Professional Edition is easy enough to use - and there's no arguing with the results. Variations of FineReader come bundled with many scanners and multifunction printers, so you may already have it. If not, look for it as part of your product research if you plan on doing OCR. The demo is good for 15 days or 50 single page scans, whichever comes first.

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