A year or two back, PC Advisor had the pleasure of reviewing CardScan's Executive business card scanner and contact-management software. Our verdict? Niche and expensive, but very, very good at its single task. So we were intrigued to check out CardScan's latest update - the CardScan Executive 800c.

Thing is, not much has changed - not even the £199 inc VAT price. The CardScan Executive 800c remains a brick-built, stylish and portable scanner that's adept at capturing data from business cards. It's quick - taking less than the advertised three seconds to scan a card - and accurate. (In our tests few people's details needed any editing at all once captured which, given our experience of both OCR and the business-boy's love of flashy calling cards, is impressive indeed.)

In fact, the whole product feels better than its predecessor. Scans seem quicker and more efficient, for instance. And the design is more stylish. But the margins are so slim, and the product so utterly focused on its one task, that it's a tricky judgment to make.

(We can, however, state with total confidence that the LED triangle which changes colour when you scan a card is pretty damn cool. As is the satisfying schzoooooom noise made during scanning.)

Installation is a cinch, and the CardScan Executive 800c simply hooks up to your PC via USB. Scanned info is saved into an easily accessible digital address book on your hard drive. Contact data is sensibly categorised, making search, updating and printing simple options.

A nice touch is that you can back up information to CardScan's At Your Service website. You do have to register, but it's free and this means you can immediately access contacts anywhere there's a web connection.

The CardScan software will happily sync with Outlook and Windows Mobile devices, but the CardScan Executive 800c is Windows only, so Mac users need to look elsewhere for business card fun.

CardScan Executive 800c: Specs

  • USB 2.0
  • 3-second, colour scanning
  • supports Outlook, Outlook Express, ACT!, Lotus Notes, Goldmine, PDAs, smartphones
  • 147x84x38mm
  • 0.2kg
  • system requirements: Windows 2000, Windows XP or Vista
  • Pentium Processor
  • 64MB of RAM
  • 90MB free hard disk space (120MB for a full installation)
  • CD-ROM drive
  • USB port
  • USB 2.0
  • 3-second, colour scanning
  • supports Outlook, Outlook Express, ACT!, Lotus Notes, Goldmine, PDAs, smartphones
  • 147x84x38mm
  • 0.2kg
  • system requirements: Windows 2000, Windows XP or Vista
  • Pentium Processor
  • 64MB of RAM
  • 90MB free hard disk space (120MB for a full installation)
  • CD-ROM drive
  • USB port

OUR VERDICT

It does what it sets out to with ruthless efficiency and a certain style, but is the CardScan Executive 800c a good buy? The answer depends on your need. If capturing and using data from business cards is important to your business, even at £199 the CardScan may be a bargain. But if you require only a cool desktop toy, save your money and get a basketball hoop for the waste-paper basket.

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