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Home Office: Scan About Town

Blueprint, Volume 1 2006

What it is...What it does

Your Hansel-and-Gretel trail of crumpled receipts. Photos of friends, cruelly banished to shoe boxes. The full deck of business cards (with several jokers) that awaits transfer to your PC. These scanners bring you closer to that dream of the paper-free life.

CardScan Personal business-card scanner, cardscan.com
1. Business cards, it turns out, aren't that helpful when they're stacked in a pile on your desk or spending the summer in storage -- at the bottom of the pocket of your winter coat. Feed the cards you've collected through the tiny CardScan Personal scanner (roughly the size of a deck of playing cards), and seconds later, via a cable plugged into your PC's USB port, it automatically updates your Palm, Pocket PC, smart phone, or Outlook address book. The CardScan can even read French (ooh la la!), German, Portuguese, and Spanish.

DocuPen RC8OO handheld scanner,   Docupen.com

2. The DocuPen is something Q would dispense to 007: Everything about it says "secret agent spy tool," from its diminutive scale (just a bit bigger than a letter opener) to the eight megabytes of internal memory, enough to store hundreds of pages of text or color images (an all-black-and white version is available for $160). Just pull the DocuPen out of your purse and roll it across a page to capture a recipe at a friend's house or a passage from a genealogy book at the library. Back home, it plugs into the USB port on your Mac or PC to transfer the scans and recharge. Plus, it comes in six stylish colors.

NeatReceipts Scanalizer personal scanner, neatreceipts.com

3.Now you can dare to imagine a home free of envelopes and file folders that are overflowing with your business- and tax-related receipts. The Neat Receipts Scanalizer reads any type of paper receipt, saves an IRS-approved digital image, categorizes expenditures (meals, travel, etc.) with the click of a mouse, and can send all the data to your favorite bookkeeping software or create an expense report in Word or Excel. Weighing less than a pound, this great portable scanner connects to your PC via a USB cable; the Scanalizer can also read business card.

Presto Photo Change-O

Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.O, adobe.com.
Yes, you now have a digital camera. But in the hall closet -- or is it the basement? -- you still have a disorganized shoe box of photos that predates your upgrade to digital. The latest version of Adobe's Photoshop Elements software could be your best way to work through the pile and convert everything to digital images. You can now place as many prints as will fit on your flatbed scanner and have each photo entered as its own file. The program isolates and straightens each image, crops the edges, and removes red-eye. Perhaps most impressive of all, you can ask it to recognize which pictures have faces of people in them so you can easily tag and organize photos featuring family members and friends.