ABBYY FineReader 7.0 was a pretty good OCR (optical character recognition) product that garnered respectable reviews in 2003. The latest version, FineReader 8.0 Professional, takes something good and makes it even better.

FineReader takes images from a variety of sources, including PDF and - new for this release - digicams, and turns them into editable text. The new version offers nothing dramatically different from its predecessor apart from some decent tweaks - it's faster and more accurate, and offers better PDF support. Features-wise, it bears close comparison with its high-end rival OmniPage Pro, including such features as batch processing. Their interfaces are also similar.

Any decent OCR tool can handle good-quality scans with aplomb. The true test of its mettle is how well it copes with poorer sources such as multi-generation photocopies and noisy faxes. We threw a range of low-grade images at FineReader and the misrecognition rate was very low indeed.

Its ability to handle badly skewed sources was remarkable. For example, it correctly recognised the words ‘hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal' on one finely printed, weak fax, even though they weren't in the dictionary.

Also included in the box is a utility that extracts text and images from screen grabs and copies them to the Clipboard or a range of other destinations. But if you just want to copy text from the screen the results are much the same.

FineReader: Specs

  • 500MHz Pentium III processor
  • Windows 2000/XP/Server 2000/Server 2003
  • 128MB RAM
  • 350MB hard drive space
  • 500MHz Pentium III processor
  • Windows 2000/XP/Server 2000/Server 2003
  • 128MB RAM
  • 350MB hard drive space

OUR VERDICT

FineReader 8.0 Pro is the best OCR software we've seen - it offers ease of use, very good recognition scores and a wallet-friendly price. Watch out OmniPage Pro.

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