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QuickLink OCR Pen preview

Palm Infocenter is the first to get the new QuickLink Pen, a handheld OCR device from Wizcom Technologies, that is the first to offer PalmOS IR capability! Mike Cane, who broke the news on the OCR pen, will be writing a full review in the upcoming weeks. In the meantime, here is a preview full of pictures of what's to come. Stay tuned for this exclusive review!

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pen scanners

ccahua @ 3/13/2000 12:04:43 AM #
Thanks for breaking the news. I was really excited when you mentioned it with your Visor debut review a while back.
I have a backorder for a Quicklink pen from Buy.com.
More research has uncovered another pen scanner, C-Pen from C Technologies. They have Palm software for downloading for use with their C-pen 600 and C-800.
Check them out at http://www.c-pen.com/
Their" CLASS=NEWS>http://www.c-pen.com/
Their pens got good press over the Siemens Pocket Reader, I think PC World or Magazine has the review.
A tech person at Wizcom said their Palm iR software would be ready in ~2weeks which was a week ago. Their other pens- Quicktionary are quite popular.
VisorCentral mentioned in an article about a Quicklink module that works with the Handspring Visor.
All this new technology if it works looks very promising. A few pen owners that wrote to me said it takes Practice (swiping) though to get good results.

Alas I have no pen scanner yet but the thought of text entry by swiping makes me drool....
I eagerly await your review!
Cheers,
ccahua@pocketmail.com

RE: pen scanners
Randy Green @ 3/15/2000 6:35:21 PM #
Hi, hope you received your QuickLink Pen by now! We have been shipping regularly to
TechData who sells to Buy.com, so they should be in stock. I am presently in Israel with
the engineers finalizing the release plans for the Palm Pilot. The update has been through
beta testing, and the data transfer speed is being optimized now, so it should be ready
for download shortly from Wizcom's website (www.wizcomtech.com) under Software
Downloads. I'd like to say it will be ready next week, and Wizcom had every
expectation of doing so, but because thorough testing indicated that the transfer speed was not
as fast as users would expect, it was determined that delaying the release was preferable.
We apologize for the delay but hope that our customers will appreciate the better
performance which will, as a result of additional optimization, be achieved in data
transfer between your PDA and the QuickLink Pen. Users may also use the Scan to PC mode
and input data into the PDA desktop application and then sync it to the Palm. Unlike the C-Pen,
there is no additional application to load onto the Palm Pilot.
RE: pen scanners
ccahua @ 3/16/2000 3:20:25 PM #
Thanks for the info. Buy.com sent me an update saying they were shipping my Quicklink pen. Yippee!
I think the pen scanner thing is going to explode. I mean except for voice the quickest way to
input data instead of chicken scrawling graffiti,digital ink, word completion programs or keyboarding, will be
scanning. And the company that has the best and fastest distribution will win better marketshare.
As for the PalmOS, thanks for holding off on the release. I vote for stability and quality over a rushed job.

cheers,
ccahua@pocketmail.com


RE: pen scanners
Randy Green @ 3/22/2000 9:51:08 PM #
Hi, hope you enjoy your new QuickLink Pen! You mentioned voice so I thought I should tell you that it is possible that the QuickLink Pen will incorporate voice annotation in the future. The Quicktionary Pen, which is the other product we sell, already incorporatees speech capabilities (licensed from Lernout & Hauspie).

In regard to chicken scrawl, we will shortly release an applet which will allow you to capture chicken scrawl as a graphic (you will also be able to capture signatures, small icons, etc.) -- chicken scrawl is just the icing on the cake, ha, ha, ha...

compatibility with PDAs

Joe @ 3/13/2000 5:02:15 PM #
Is this pen fully compatible with PALM IIIx? I mean is there a palm program available to receive the text stored in the pen already?
RE: compatibility with PDAs
Randy Green @ 3/15/2000 6:45:09 PM #
Yes, the QuickLink Pen will be fully compatible with the Palm IIIx. The program is put onto the QuickLink Pen,
and not the Palm, so you only have the installation on one side, which makes installation and data transfer
a clear process.

Clarification

mikecane@wildmail.com @ 3/13/2000 5:35:30 PM #
I was surprised to be told (and here!) that CPen has PalmOS software available. Went to their site and saw it was so. I didn't know they had plans for that (and I cannot find a press release on their site announcing it!). The QuickLink Pen PalmOS software is still the proverbial "two weeks away." Mind you, though, they were all at CeBIT recently, so I guess that has to be taken into account now. I am very pleased with the scanner (sneak peak of upcoming review, that) and am waiting for their PalmOS software in order to complete my part of the review (webmaster Ryan will do the Win QL Desktop side of things; I am a Mac person). I have no other word on the software: ie, RAM size, PalmOS compatibility, etc. I am still in the dark, but these details will indeed be in the review! mc
RE: Clarification
Randy Green @ 3/22/2000 10:00:25 PM #
CPen's PalmOS software update requires that you load the application into both the C-Pen and the Palm Pilot. It only works with the higher level models. We may have delayed our Palm update, but we wanted to optimize it so that data transfer would be swift, and the interface clean. It is worth waiting for. In regard to RAM size, it is no more than 100-150kbyte for the OBEX protocol. Palm OS capability is 3.x plus....

RE: Clarification
Randy Green @ 3/22/2000 10:00:25 PM #
CPen's PalmOS software update requires that you load the application into both the C-Pen and the Palm Pilot. It only works with the higher level models. We may have delayed our Palm update, but we wanted to optimize it so that data transfer would be swift, and the interface clean. It is worth waiting for. In regard to RAM size, it is no more than 100-150kbyte for the OBEX protocol. Palm OS capability is 3.x plus....

QuickLink Pen

Gustavo Victoria @ 3/13/2000 6:01:16 PM #
I have it, I love it.... but ... where are the different languages addons they have promissed????
RE: QuickLink Pen
Randy Green @ 3/15/2000 6:49:00 PM #
The German speller and interface are finished and it was shown at Cebit 2 weeks ago.
The French Canadian version which contains the
French interface and speller, as well as English, is in production now. The other languages,
Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, etc. will be rolled out in the following weeks. All of them
will be made available over the Internet separately, or provided on one CD by the end of April.

other language support

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/14/2000 10:52:55 AM #
Will ther pen software also recognize text in other languages, say German with it's assortment of accented characters and "sharp-s"
RE: other language support
Randy Green @ 3/15/2000 6:56:14 PM #
Yes, when the QuickLink Pen is set to recognize German, it reads the German character set, and when it is set to recognize French, it reads the French character set.
to Randy Green
I.M. Anonymous @ 3/16/2000 8:11:17 AM #
I'm supposed to receive my QuickLink pen today (from buy.com), and am really encouraged to see a rep from the company responding to users and potential users in a forum such as this. I'm excited about the product (I'm finishing my PhD right now, and this will be GREAT in the archives, where material can't be removed from the area), and it only encourages me more when I see you responding here. This (excellent customer service) is why I bought a TRGpro through a preorder last year, and I'm glad to see another company with (I'm assuming) good customer service.
RE: other language support
Randy Green @ 3/22/2000 9:32:57 PM #
Hello Mr./Ms. Anonymous,

I hope you like your QuickLink Pen -- just so you know....

1) we provide free tech support and on a TOLL FREE LINE! We recognize that individual computer configurations sometimes tie up the com ports, so free tech support can be a necessary element in the post-sale process.

2) For anyone who buys the QuickLink Pen, and who specifies interest in the language capabilities (which are just on the horizon), we are bridging the gap by offering a free copy of WordPoint (a desktop translation program). You just have to ask...we'll also throw in a QuickLink t-shirt if ya ask nice!

Comments regarding QuickLink, Randy Green, and I got mine yesterday (Thursday)!

I.M. Anonymous @ 3/17/2000 9:53:21 AM #
I received my QuickLink yesterday (ordered it Saturday from buy.com), and it is really cool. With a bit of practice, I get nearly perfect recognition.

One thing that impressed me was something I found in the literature that ships with the pen: Randy Green, it turns out, is the president of the company. I'm really impressed with the fact that he came here and answered questions. Granted, customer service needs to continue, but that coupled with a toll-free customer support number really made me feel positive about my purchase. I'm really looking forward to the Palm link. I'm assuming it will also work with a TRGpro.

Cool gadget!

-T

A Little Truth in Advertising

Unhappy QuickLink Buyer @ 3/22/2000 1:20:56 AM #
I ended up at Infocenter from Palm Pilot HQ lured by the promise of an article on the QuickLink Pen and PDA functionality. How appropriate: A vaporware article on a vaporware product. I was just as drawn to the QuickLink Pen by catalog and sales blurbs touting its ability to interface with the Palm. Indeed, when I received the package, PDA compatibility is displayed quite prominently. But once the box is opened, such functionality is nowhere to be found. Quite honestly, this is a case of "false, deceiptive, and misleading" advertising, that in the "bricks and mortar" world invites action by FTC and other legal authorities. I'm not sure why we in the tech world should settle for less. Without the PDA connectivity, this product is virtually useless for me.

While it's nice that Mr. Green addressed comments in this forum, I really think it would have been much nicer not to have "green lighted" these claims to begin with, given that the interface obviously did not exist, or was still in development several months ago at product launch. The QuickLink is actually quite a good device and could have sold well without the falsehoods. I plan to hang on to it till the end of the month. If there's still no interface by then, I'll just have to send it back and bite the bullet and spring for the C-Pen. Sorry if this post offends people, but as a busy tech professional, I like a little honesty in advertising. I simply don't have time for much else.

RE: A Little Truth in Advertising
mikecane@wildmail.com @ 3/22/2000 9:40:47 AM #
Whoa! I wrote the article. I made no claims within it that PalmOS compatibility was available NOW. It was clearly stated this was a Sneak Peek and that a full review, once the PalmOS component was available, would follow. You could have waited until the fuill review instead of showing yourself vulnerable to be sucked in by what you term a "vaporware article." It was a Sneak Peek of the QL *PEN*. Obviously you *have* the *PEN*, ergo it is NOT vaporware. Like you, I hope the PalmOS component will be available soon. And like you, I pointed out to WizCom that the packaging prominently displayed compatibility without any mention inside on how that compatibility was to be gotten. mc
RE: A Little Truth in Advertising
ccahua @ 3/22/2000 3:50:22 PM #
Hi emailed Wizcom about the Palm connectivity and the 'tech' person which I later found out was the president said they were working on it and it should be out soon.
I agree with you that it was misleading to print palm connectivity on the box without the requisite software. Perhaps they should have put a more prominent message on their site that connectivity will soon follow.
I finally received my QL Pen and the issue is not so much with Palm connectivity but with scanning recognition.
I found that scanning on a flat surface helps, but sometimes OCR recognition is none to excellent. It seems to vacillate between garbled garbage to outright clarity.
I think the pen works great for clear black and white type in a standard font as in books but any shades of color create decreased recognition.
I want to give a fair assessment so I will practice scanning further with a wide variety of type.
I haven't tried the c-600 pen from C-technologies. It has a different OCR engine and I think mechanism. If anyone is interested a user of the pen posted his review you can find it at the Pilot Mailing List archives.
Just search for C pen.
cheers,
happy scanning
ccahua@pocketmail.com

RE: A Little Truth in Advertising
HandScan @ 3/22/2000 4:23:39 PM #
Hi. I just received the QLinkPen a couple of days ago. I was pretty frosted about the missing PDA conduits. I also noticed that they also claim it'll connect to "text-enabled" cell phones. Apparently that connectivity is vaporware also. I guess their marketing people are ex-Microsofties.

I've been scanning everywhere and everything. It works under the conditions ccahua described. It's batting 50-50 under the conditions I wanted to use it. It has trouble scanning the URLs off of headers on pages printed with Netscape and IE browsers. Besides garbling parts of the text string, it also seems to have string length limitations. I read the manual, and didnt see any limts to max_length of URLs.

Scanning from magazines is tricky as well. It was hit or miss gathering URLs from my current PC Week. I have tried using the Opticard function to input corrections and for some reason it's hit or miss activating it. Trying to correct from the screen is awkward and I haven't figured out how to delete more than one character at a time. I'm going to tackle business cards next. It seems to be a good product, but I'm glad I didn't pay the $150 for it.

Hey Mike! Read your article and liked it. You note in your post that you complained to Green about the box claims. I think you should have also mentioned that in your article to CYA. I think that Unhappy Buyer guy might have missed the Infocenter link to your March article. I clicked on one of the links in the blurb (Ryan) about the QLink preview and ended up at an older piece. I went back and clicked on another highlighted word and there it was. So it was kinda tricky, but not your fault.

RE: A Little Truth in Advertising
Randy Green @ 3/22/2000 10:18:54 PM #
Yup, Wizcom screwed up. I admit it. Wizcom had every expectation of releasing the PDA Obex at the same time as the PC IrDA, and the engineers confirmed this, so marketing put it on the box. I'm not sure I'd go so far as to say it is false advertising because you can scan directly into the desktop application, but you and I both know that just skirts the issue -- the intent was that the Pen works directly with the Palm.

In regard to some of the other comments, let me say that the Pen is built on an open architecture, and we are constantly going to provide updates that will increase the Pen's accuracy and speed, as well as functionality. There are applets being designed that will 1) let you train the Pen on fonts and broaden its accuracy range, 2) let you capture handwriting and small icons as graphics, 3) retain formatting i.e. bold, italic, underlined, etc. Because we had so many people who wanted USB connectivity, we went ahead and negotiated quantity pricing of Xircom USB adapters which we will sell to customers at OUR buy price. They are already ordered and on their way. We are working on providing our own USB cable for the future, and giving the customer the option (serial or USB).

I do believe that we actually listen to our customers and make an active effort to be responsive and incorporate their ideas into the product. Every feature request is recorded -- we are trying to build what the public wants -- that is primarily why I personally respond to over 300 emails a day and take these forums so seriously. Providing good customer service in addition to building a product that the customer wants are key components to our long term success.

Yes, we are suffering right now. I am eating crow and dirt, and beating myself over the head daily about not having all the feature sets which were expected, and promised from the parent company. All I can do as the president of the US subsidiary is promise that we will do our best to make up any of our present deficiencies to our customers in the future. I strongly believe that our base offering is technologically superior to our competition's product, and that the team we are building in the US (now 20 strong), will provide a solid base for customer support and service.

PS: In regard to the Opticard: All you have to do is scan the "Opticard" barcode found on the lower left hand side of the carrying case slowly with the Pen WHICH IS HELD IN THE SAME DIRECTION AS THE CARRYING CASE till the light blinks very quickly. Then again with the Pen in the same direction as the carrying case, touch the scanning head of your QuickLink Pen against the "Letter" barcode you wish, and that letter will show up on the display of your QuickLink Pen. To turn off the Opticard, you must again scan the Opticard barcode till the light returns to normal blinking.

By the way, we are printing separate Opticards (because of a user's suggestion) that will have the qwerty keyboard on one side, and the other side will be alphabetical. They will be free upon request to present customers, and put in future shipments as a regular package component.

PSS: I'm actually female, and equipped with an attitude!

RE: A Little Truth in Advertising
Unhappy QuickLink Buyer @ 3/22/2000 11:55:22 PM #
First off, I'd like to apologize to Mr. Cane. I did miss the link to your article and its not your fault. I guess I would have liked a stronger statement in the piece about the lack of PDA support because there's a prominent picture of the box right there. Once again I'm sorry. (Just out of curiousity what did Ms. Green say to you when you asked about the box?)

Ms. Green - Randy, I'm sorry. I guess I'm a bit old school, and tend not to address people by their first names. While I stand by my previous comments (as a former retail pro), I really must commend you and your team on the quality of your product. Most importantly, the documentation is supurb! Easy to read, thorough, and compact. The pen itself is very intuitive. A device like this with the features it has could be a real pain to use if not thought through. While the Pen still requires a bit of practice, I think your folks have made a very good UI under the form factor conditions. Since accuracy can vary greatly, the Opticard is a great addition and I agree with your decision to print up separate cards. I can see, where over time, the one affixed to the bottom of the case would wear, affecting the accuracy of the scan.

I think, as you consider future functionality, may I recommend a "Scan to Palm" (or PDA) feature. This way, errors can be corrected directly on the Palm using Graffiti or other built-in input mechanisms. Unless this is the type of add-on we're all eagerly awaiting - although this would require a Palm .prc.

Still. This is an excellent product - at any price. I hope your quality and customer service "attitude" catches on - this industry needs more of it. I too know what it's like to be let down by the folks at HQ, but I hope their other division heads are rapping their knuckles as well.

RE: A Little Truth in Advertising
ccahua @ 3/23/2000 1:50:41 AM #
Comments:

The opticard needs to be separated from the shift! Its is very inconvenient to stroke twice for a backspace Del.

The digital ink 'graphic' scanning applet sounds exciting. I like Unhappy QL Buyer's suggestion of a Palm .prc to edit the QL db on the Palm side.
Imagine scanning a graphic or text and editing it via bugme,diddlebug and graffiti.
As far as scan to palm, I think that will be in the QL module for the Visor springboard.

on C-pen:
Having no experience w/ the C-pen, I think the neat thing about the QL pen is that it is upgradable in Flash up to 8Mb. To my understanding the C-pen is not and the palm function works on the 600 (4Mb) model on up. The model 200 that is common at Office Depot in the US doesn't have Palm compatibility and retails about $169. The 600 is about $249. As far as OCR recognition, one user said he scanned a large address book with nary a hitch but his friend who works with Xeroxes had a lot of trouble and had to return the c-pen. I would not think he would have better results with the QL pen.
Perhaps we are all early adopters and the technology is not quite ready for 100% accurate fast real-world scanning. The user has to be consistently careful particularly with dense or fine print with little type variance.
I challenge anyone who has a C-pen and/or Quicklink Pen or any pen scanner for that matter to try it yourself and find out- and please post your results if you do!

Lastly
I just want to say that Randy Green has personally replied to my queries and suggestions about her company's product. I haven't seen such attentive and active customer service and support since Kenny West of PalmGear used to post on Usenet. I commend and thank you in public, Ms Green for listening to this user's needs and concerns. You (and your team) are doing a GREAT job from what you're given. Heck aside from the actual functioning of the product, your customer service wins me over. Too bad your service is not applicable to other products :-P
Throw a t-shirt my way and I give you free advertising!


Cheers,
ccahua
ccahua@pocketmail.com

--
I have absolutely no affiliation with of the above companies. I just want a fast and accurate scanner!

Keeping me on my Toes!
Randy Green @ 3/23/2000 9:12:25 AM #
"Scan to Palm" (or PDA) feature -- yup, from your keyboard to the engineer's ears! We already planned "Scan to Fax" so why the heck can't we do Scan to Palm? You're right, I'll push it in front of engineering, along with the other comments ('absorbed' and appreciated.)

Psssst...if you want a t-shirt, email me at randyg@wizcomtech.com (need ship addresses!)

Scan to Palm
Randy Green @ 3/23/2000 12:05:24 PM #
And it shall be done...

To: "'Randy Green'" <randyg@wizcomtech.com>
Subject: RE: Features to add to QLPen


Randy,


We will have scan to palm !


Garon

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