A while ago we introduced to you Zcan Wireless that is currently at the stage of fund-raising for production. At the moment of this post, it has already exceeded the goal before it closes on August 30, 2014. While expecting it to come in near future, let us take a look at the currently available wired version – the Zcan+ Scanner Mouse today.
First of all, we would like to thank the Product Manager for sending us a free sample for review purpose.
Secondly, this is the first time that I have ever been using, and it is the second scanner that I have owned in my life, since the first one acquired in 1998.
So from here you could understand a scanner is, to be honest, a nice-to-have accessory for me to purchase.
Unboxing and first impression
So let us start from unboxing the unit.
The unit is well packaged and secured in plastic and cardboards. Inside the package, you will find, of course, the Zcan+ Scanner mouse main unit with cable and USB connector. In addition, there is a Software DVD Disc that contains the drivers and companion software to be installed on either your Mac or PC. As usual, there are easy setup guide and user manual coming in multiple languages. In our case, it comes with English and Chinese.
Worth mentioning will be the Scan Pad. There are some scales, such as 2R and 3R, printed on top of the pad. And there is also a simple guide on how you can use it to scan your beloved photos easily with it. That is a definite bonus to the product itself.
The Scanner Mouse itself is nicely designed with the scan button sitting along with the scroll. Turning it upside down, you will see the scanner underneath. There are also a few rugs at the corner to increase friction. The case is well polished and the size is medium for me, so it feels really good when holding and using.
Hardware and Companion Software usability
The Zcan+ Scanner Mouse is basically plug-and-play via USB port but only limited to normal mouse functionalities if you do not install the bundled driver. The driver is available for both Windows and Mac OS, and we have tested on both of them.
Apple Mac OS X
For Mac, I have used MacBook Pro (mid 2012) for testing, at the moment of review, it is running on OSX Yosemite Developer Preview 4. For this reason, I downloaded the driver installer from the official website. You need to download the driver via the installer instead of direct. It will take a while as the whole package will be more than 499 MB and the companion app will take up 118.6 MB on your harddrive. So make sure you have enough space for these.
The installation will take a while too, especially when waiting the package scripts to run, about a couple of minutes. Up to this point, I have not got any problems and error.
After installation, you can connect your Zcan+ Scanner Mouse and start running the companion app. The user interface is easy with a Quick Start Guide. You can save, copy, edit, share and export to supported apps such as Evernote from the app menu.
However, I encountered an issue which I could not get the mouse to function at all. There was an error code “6001” prompt to me when I clicked the scan button on the mouse. Scanning could not be initiated from there in the Mac App. I have submitted the bug report through the companion Mac App since 3 August but I am still patiently waiting for their feedback by the time I write up this review, which is a month’s time since then.
I could understand that the driver may not be able to support the beta version of OSX as it is just too new. But unfortunately I did not have any alternative device running Mavericks. So this was why I turned to my laptop running Windows 8.0.
On Windows 8, as it was mentioned to support, I decided to run the installation from the driver DVD provided. Notably, there was a hardware check (called Computer performance review) to see if your computer equips with the minimum specification. Even I failed to meet one of them – Video memory – as I just had low-end on board display, simply by checking the bottom acknowledgement “I am aware that the application may have limited functionalities, I could still go ahead with the installation.
The Windows companion app looks almost the same across different operating systems. Of course, you can have a standard Windows tool bar with File, Edit, Options and Help for more actions.
By clicking on the Zcan button on the Mouse, the indicator LED will flash and the scanning will start. Due to the small size of the scanner at the bottom you will need to continuously swiping on the page back-and-forth, from left to right and from top to bottom. In this test, I used a tourist map which is full of contents and details.
The thing I love the most will be the calibration capability. I can lift up the mouse to change scanning position. The mouse is smart enough to calibrate the position where I left off and continue scanning. Additional, when the scanning area is duplicated, it will correct itself until all pieces finished.
Once done, click the mouse button as instructed to move to the edit page. Your document will be automatically rotated and aligned to the best orientation. From there, you can adjust the hue, saturation, brightness, contrast, background and orientation. You can also erase the contents you dislike. Click OK to proceed back to the original app interface where you can export and share.
However, this was the one and only one successful scanning on Windows 8. From this onwards, whenever I pressed the Scan button, it only scanned at position where the mouse was located at and immediately it jumped to edit page. I could not perform swipe-to-scan actions at all. I tried rebooting the machine just to make sure it was not due to the problem that 2GB of system memory might be insufficient. However, it was still not working properly any more. So I continued to downgrade the testing platform to my 6 year-old desktop PC running Windows 7 with latest Service Pack.
I tested out a few major features on either one Windows platform: text recognition, export to apps and export to different file formats.
For text recognition, the maximum number of languages you can select is three. The outcome is quite satisfactory that all English and Korean words were correctly recognized, but very low successful rate for Japanese even it is just 2 lines of it.
For exporting to third-party apps, I picked Evernote for testing. Note that you need to have Evernote app installed or it could only prompt you there instead of opening the web app. But it is very handy and the overall process is smooth, despite the fact that the output image was broken for unknown reason in Windows 8 as mentioned above.
For document saving into different formats, all looked good except Excel. The cells and contents were segregated and disorganized especially for cells with sentences. For those with numbers, time, etc, they were good.
Here are some output examples of PDF (Left) and JPG (Right) and both of them were working quite fine specially the PDF one. The texts were recognised instead outputting as a PDF with pure image.
Overall speaking, Zcan+ Scanner Mouse is a very innovative product. It saves me a lot of space for placing a bulky scanning machine at home. It also comes handy in the way that I am able to carry this around.
However, it is arguable that that there are tons of iPhone scanning apps like Readdle Scanner Pro, Scanbot, etc in the App Store, which is even more handy with scanning a piece of document, upload and share to various kind of cloud drives quickly, and also provided OCR functionalities. That being said, the quality of the shot really depends on your photography skill and the resolution can be limited to iPhone camera by default. Additionally, there are less file formats supported with iPhone apps. I see competition between the two but there are indeed some areas that could differentiate them. So it really depends on when, where and what you need.
The only thing that I could complain is the support, both operating system-wise and customer service. I really hope this could work on my MacBook Pro with Yosemite as it is my daily driver.
For more information on Zcan+ Scanner Mouse and other related products, please visit the official website here. Also please let us know what you think about the product down at the comments section.
Chan Xin is a tech geek, an iOS specialist, You can follow @chanxin on Twitter.