Iris has been producing market-leading OCR (optical character recognition) software for some time. Here it combines its solid Readiris Pro 9.0 software with a mobile scanner that is, well, not so good.
It's certainly portable. The Iriscan feels sturdy and compact and, weighing a mere 410g and only 28cm long, it's possible to forget it's in your hand. Unfortunately, the Iriscan is connected and powered by a USB cable that's equally petite – so be prepared for a lot of bending down (but luckily no scrabbling around searching for batteries).
Setting up the Iriscan, which is compatible with Macs and PCs, is intuitive enough to make using it in several locations viable – you simply plug it in and follow the instructions. A wizard guides you through the stress-free process of calibrating your scanner, and you're off – even the interface of the Readiris software is refreshingly simple and straightforward.
Actually scanning a document and getting the software to recognise its contents is a cinch, although it does take a while to trundle through, so you might want to whack the kettle on.
You can then edit the captured copy on the fly to iron out errors, teaching the program useful words as you go.
The resulting documents can be saved to all manner of office suite formats, from OpenOffice.org to the ubiquitous Word. Whether you'd want to bother is another matter.
We weren't impressed by the scanner. Documents had to be nursed through and, even on black-and-white sheets with large words, the standard of the scans was such that even the excellent Readiris struggled. When we scanned in a text-heavy page from PC Advisor the software could extract no useful copy – from a PDF of the same page it produced a near-faultless version.