Scanners and mice are more similar than you might expect. Just as a mouse can sweep the breadth and height of an on-screen page, a device like a wand scanner can capture images of physical documents as it sweeps across lines or blocks of text. The IRIScan Mouse merges the two devices. You can use it as a mouse, and with a click of a button you can scan a physical document, OCR it, save it in various formats, or send it to social media or the cloud.
The IRIScan Mouse is a wired mouse that connects to a computer's USB port. The device is reasonably attractive, and is finished in black (glossy on top, matte on the sides and bottom) with green trim. The Scan button, on the left side, glows blue, and blinks when a scan is in progress. On the bottom of the mouse is a plastic window through which the scan element can read the page. A flickering white light illuminates the page while you're scanning.
I've used the IRIScan Mouse as my normal work mouse for about a week, and in that capacity – in terms of scrolling and doing other typical mouse tasks – it's operated smoothly, with only a single issue of note. The scan button is on the left side of the mouse, right where I rest the ball of my thumb. The scan button requires a bit of pressure to activate, but nonetheless I've triggered it accidentally while writing a review or working in a Word document. Doing so is an annoyance, as it takes a few moments to stop and then cancel the scan. It happens most frequently when I'm standing at my test bench taking notes, though I've also accidentally initiated scans while typing at my desk.
The scanning software comes on an included disk, which you install on your PC (it is Windows only). Software includes IRISCompressor, which enables compression of image and PDF files. You can send notes to Evernote – the IRIScan Mouse includes 3 free months of Evernote Premium. You can also send scanned text directly to Google Translate. Output formats include PNG, JPEG, TIFF, BMP, PDF, XML, and DOC.
Scanning with the mouse
To scan, you place the mouse on a document, press the scan button, and sweep the mouse across the parts of the document you want to scan. As you scan a larger area, the view automatically zooms out. You'll want to have plenty of free room to the sides of the document if you want to scan the whole thing. I found the scanning process awkward, as tracking wasn't that great.
When you're done scanning, you press the scan button again; the scan will appear rectangular and properly aligned. The Edit menu will appear – you can then paste the scan (either as an image or text), share (to email, Facebook, Twitter, or Flickr), send it to apps (Evernote or Google Translate), save, edit, print, or access settings.
When you paste a scan as text to a program like Word, the IRIScan software will perform text recognition on it, a quick process. Then you can edit or save the document. OCR performance was a mixed bag. It read our Arial test page at font sizes down to 8 points without a mistake, but with Times New Roman it had some errors at all sizes up to 12 points.
The IRIScan Mouse is best for scanning individual sheets of paper; scanning from a magazine proved tricky at times as the text wouldn't always stay flat enough for a clean scan. Also, since the scan window is on the left side of the mouse, it was hard (and sometimes impossible) to scan to the inner margin on left-handed pages.
For around £40 more than you'd pay for a decent wired mouse, you can get the IRIScan Mouse, a wired (USB-connected) mouse that can scan to text or image, provides text recognition, and can save scanned documents to various formats as well as performing as a typical mouse.
The downside is that it’s a bit unwieldy to scan with, so it’s best for occasional light duty scanning of documents or images. The scanner portion is most akin to a wand scanner – but most wand scanners operate PC-free, while the IRIScan Mouse doesn't.