Digital Document Copying has
Secret agents around the world need to make room in
their black bag for an amazing new piece of equipment. The CapShare 920 is
an electronic device that’s smaller than a paperback book (4.1” x 5.5” by 1.5” and weighs 12.5 ounces) and can scan an
entire page of text and images as fast as you can swipe it over the page.
Once you have scanned it into the CapShare, you can wirelessly transfer
the image to anything from printers, to desktop computers, PDAs, and even
a cell phone.
And if you think it is too “cloak and dagger” to
have any real world uses, think again. During my extended review of the
device, I found myself scanning receipts for my expense reports, magazine/newpaper
articles for my family, business cards that I knew I would lose, paper
forms to fill out electronically, phone book listings, legal documents I
signed, and even large flip charts from company meetings. In fact, this
device has become such a part of my daily routine that, when someone makes
a handwritten change to a document, I’ve rushed back to my office to
grab the CapShare, so I can make a copy of their changes.
How does it work?
If you’re like me, you are probably wondering how a
handheld device can copy a page that is over 13 square feet in size. To
explain it on a smaller scale; if you wanted to copy this page out of our
magazine, you’d simply place the CapShare on the upper-left corner of
the page, swipe it all the way to the bottom, move it over to the right,
then swipe back up to the top. This U shape movement over the page allows
you to get an entire 8 ˝ inches of page content with the CapShare’s 5
inch scanner surface. The only hitch is that the device requires that you
overlap ˝ inch on every pass so it knows where to paste the pieces
together. If your document is larger than a piece of paper, you can simply
repeat the U-shaped path as many times as you want. And once you’ve got
the data into your CapShare, you’ll be amazed with all the things you
can do with it.
The CapShare device is compatible with Microsoft
Windows 95/98/NT/CE, EPOC32 (Psion Series 5) and even the Nokia
9000i/9000il/9110 Communicator (with the Infrared Object Exchange
application installed). A serial cable is provided for connection to your
desktop computer, but uses its infrared port for connecting to all the
other devices. The 920 has support for both Fast Infrared (FIR) and Serial
Infrared (SIR). FIR is available on newer laptop PCs and printers and
allows a transmission time of up to 4 megabytes per second, transferring a
letter-size page in 5-15 seconds. The older Serial IR format transfers at
115Kbps and takes 15-30 seconds per page. In addition to providing these
data transfer estimates, HP reports that multiple pages sent at one time
will transmit faster over either IR format. HP calls the transfer
technology “JetSend”, and claims that there are over 5 million JetSend-enabled
devices already in use today.
With all these different places to send your CapShare
documents, you can imagine the possibilities HP has provided for working
with them. When you transfer a document to any Windows-based computer, the
documents can be stored as PDF
(Adobe’s Portable Document Format) or TIF (a standard graphics file
format). PDF should be your file type of choice if you plan on E-mailing
the document to other users, as most people have Adobe Acrobat reader
installed on their system. The TIF file format is available to users of
graphics and OCR (optical character recognition) applications that want to
convert the file to text for editing or pasting into a document. We
applaud HP’s support for both PDF and TIF file formats, as they are two
of the most common formats for transferring document and image data.
On a Psion,
or Windows CE device, the document is transferred as a TIF file. HP offers
a free version of JetSend for Windows CE (see sidebar for a description
and an actual screenshot of a scanned document) that allows you to
receive, view and annotate documents received from CapShare. Finally,
sending a document to a Nokia Communicator allows you to wirelessly fax or
E-mail the document anywhere in the world.
Instant copies – without a copy machine!
If you haven’t impressed your friends with the
CapShare’s incredible communications capability by this point, here is
an easy way to win them over. Grab someone’s document, swipe the
CapShare over the page, then press the yellow “transfer” button twice.
Point it at almost any printer with IRDA infrared and - poof! The document
comes out of the printer in near copy machine quality (well above fax
quality). In my un-scientific in office tests, 10 out of 10 co-workers
were very impressed with this “insta-copy” capability and inquired
about the device.
The device comes with 4MB of memory, which can store
up to 150 pages of flip chart data
in compressed mode, up to 50
letter-size documents in normal mode, or 15 pages in graphics (high
quality) mode. Two fully
charged NiMH batteries (4 are included with the device) can copy and send
100 letter-sized, normal mode pages. Also included with the device is a
compact NiMH battery charger, serial cable, capture sleeve, soft
cloth carrying pouch, user guide
and a software CD.
How does it
HP has done an excellent job of making the CapShare
920 easy-to-use. Simply turn it on, lower the device onto the page, press
the scan button, and swipe. In a few seconds, the scanned document appears
on the screen and four buttons allow you to view, rotate, send or delete
it. The device has four directional arrow buttons for navigating around a
document, a tools button with document capture and editing utilities and a
help button to provide you with on-device assistance for most tasks. Once
you familiarize yourself with what each button’s function is, you’ll
have no problem with working with the 920.
Scanning a document, however, does require a little
more practice. The U shape swipe is easy to do on a letter-sized document,
but on pages larger than 8 ˝” wide, we found that overlapping each
swipe quite a bit ensures that you don’t lose your place. In addition,
the CapShare can not handle scanning on uneven surfaces, so a bump in the
page, will require you to start over again. When it comes to scanning
speed, however, the CapShare is top notch. We found that the device could
keep up with our fastest realistic U-shaped swipe, only giving up when we
ran it so ridiculously fast down the page, we could barely keep the device
in our hands (HP does recommend that you take 3 seconds to scan a page and
probably wouldn’t approve our “speed demon” test).
Fast on-the-go scanning
capability, powerful communications with other devices, excellent size
High cost, difficult to
HP, in their marketing documentation, says it best;
“It’s the copier you take to the paper”. After using the device for
nearly a month, we couldn’t agree more. While the company has selected
legal, insurance, finance and business consultant markets as their primary
targets for this device, students, people in collaborative meetings and
anyone who works extensively with paper documents will find this device
absolutely invaluable. And while the cost (US$499) is high, and the device
does take some getting used to, once you get in the swing of things,
you’ll wonder how you ever worked without it.