Although most scanners and MFDs include optical character recognition (OCR) software, the quality of these can be patchy. When you get a commercial package, it’ll almost certainly be an older version with less features and reduced accuracy compared to the latest specialist software. 

See: more OCR software reviews.

Upgrading to the latest version should secure you higher precision and better performance on intricate documents. Especially tricky to recognise can be documents containing fonts of different types and sizes, or magazine articles with pictures embedded within the text. 

Readiris has long been a reliable distillation of all that’s new and sophisticated in the world of OCR software. But is IRIS Readiris Pro 14 worth the upgrade?

The interface has been changed significantly. Gone is the bright but rather bewildering and icon-heavy front-end of yesteryear. Version 14’s interface is clean and sleek. 

It taps into Microsoft’s beloved ribbons, and at any given time the majority of options are hidden away behind dedicated tabs. The result is a front-end that feels rather stark and austere, and yet works logically. Whether you want to manipulate zones, reorder pages or simply select which program to send your scan to the interface makes it relatively straightforward. 

IRIS Readiris Pro 14 conveniently splits the main Home page into two sections, one covering the scanner setup and another referring to the output. You can even see which tasks are currently being performed. The interface certainly makes more sense than Omnipage’s slightly arcane way of working.

We’re also promised a faster engine, although evidence of this is less substantial. Version 12 was already reasonably fast, and a direct comparison suggested that 14 was, at a stretch, a second faster on most tasks. In general, though, we suspect that users of recent versions of IRIS Readiris Pro 14 will notice little difference in terms of speed. 

This scant noticeable difference was the case on our multi-core PC, where apparently IRIS Readiris Pro 14 should come into its own.

Readiris’ library of languages was vast, but its lack of support for such major Eastern alternatives like Japanese and Chinese was surprising. That has been corrected in the latest edition, with a host of new built-in languages – including Korean, Arabic and Hebrew. 

IRIS Readiris Pro 14’s support for third-party programs is also comprehensive. It’s no surprise to see coverage of such obvious candidates as Microsoft Office (Word and Excel 2010 have excellent support) and OpenOffice. However, there are some welcome nods to more cultish performers like Jarte and AbiWord. 

Web-friendly formats pop up too, and you can also send scans to HTML editors like SeaMonkey Composer. Of course, the trusty Adobe Acrobat Searchable PDFs will be the first port of call for those wishing to archive anything from bills to magazine articles. This format’s easy mix of searchable text and accurate image capture makes it an obvious choice, and it gets steely support from Readiris, with smoother and more accurate conversions. 

The new version even allows you to create web browser-friendly ‘linearized’ PDF files. These are designed to be loaded in chunks, so a user can start reading a PDF file without first having to wait for the entire file to be downloaded.

OmniPage already supports cloud computing, and Readiris has now also jumped on board the cloudwagon, giving you access to the aether. A good selection of services, from Evernote and Sharepoint to Google Docs and Box, are covered, and support is almost seamless.

Readiris doesn’t have a finger in every pie though, and unlike ABBYY FineReader, there’s no advanced support for ebook formats.

We found accuracy to be moderately improved in IRIS Readiris Pro 14. It proved better at isolating columns of text that run around sizeable images, and generally did a better job of picking out the various elements on each page. It’s also good at eliminating unnecessary gaps at the ends of lines – something of a niggle in Version 12. 

Most of our tests went through without any hitches, and even our difficult dictionary test produced a relatively small number of mistakes. 

The new interface is good for quickly focusing on an area of a document and searching for accuracy. However, it still isn’t as easy to work on results as with ABBYY FineReader, and that program makes it very simple to compare OCR results with the original. With Readiris, you don’t always know what you’re going to get. Neither was IRIS Readiris Pro 14 able to beat ABBYY for overall accuracy.

IRIS Readiris Pro 14: Specs

  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8
  • 120MB drive space
  • 512MB RAM
  • Intel Pentium 4 PC
  • Windows XP/Vista/7/8
  • 120MB drive space
  • 512MB RAM
  • Intel Pentium 4 PC


Version 14 is another subtle step forwards for Readiris Pro. Accuracy is good, particularly when it comes to retaining the original layout, and the improved interface and versatile file support are notable. It’s also very solid value for money and will prove a good upgrade for those looking to bolster the software bundled with their scanner. Whether it does quite enough to haul itself ahead of the extremely effective and fast ABBYY FineReader, though, is less obvious.

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