Review: IntelliScanner Classic and Mini

Scan your valuable collections to track what you own and lend. (January 29th, 2010)

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Product Manufacturer: IntelliScanner Corp., Apparent Corp. Subsidiary

Price: $99 and up

The Good

  • Easy to set up and use. Create catalogs of media faster than typing. Can copy & paste from source material you choose. Scans through plastic. Discount for teachers and students. Software with no bugs.

The Bad

  • No automatic filling of fields. Database lookup incomplete. No way to import information from IMDB, Google, or Amazon. Web pages sorts all lists by same criteria.

I am a media junkie with many libraries in my home, and I know I'm not alone in my habits. My book library is the largest collection, but I also own VHS and DVD movies and music CDs. The downside is keeping track of all this media. For example, as I replace my VHS movies with DVD versions, I sometimes forget what I've replaced. I might even have the book, the movie, and the associated movie music on tape or CD. This means when I want to add to my collection, I have to look through 10 bookcases and four other collections to see what versions I already own. While years ago, many of us created databases or spreadsheets to track our possessions, this was time consuming and boring and I never kept my lists updated.

IntelliScanner solves much of that tedious tracking with a barcode scanner solution. While their solution has been around a few years, they recently re-launched the Classic Scanner ($99) and earlier in the year released the IntelliScanner mini ($179). The software solutions aren't limited to media, you can get software that tracks your comic books, wine collection, kitchen items, home assets, or even run a library with a simple barcode scan.

IntelliScanner Classic

The newest IntelliScanner Classic ships with a corded USB barcode reader and cable, a small Quick Start Guide, and a Software Delivery Card. The card contains your serial number and download instructions for the particular software purchased. The software download includes the drivers and support documentation. You simply drag the software to the Applications folder in Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5 or 10.6. The scanner fits comfortably in your hand and the long cord prevents any pulling on your machine. This test uses the Media Collector Software, which allows me to track Books, Movies, Music, and Games. If you have software with bar codes, those scans go into the Games collection.

 classic-scan_dvd.jpg

Scanning a DVD

The Software

The software Setup Assistant includes an Advanced setup options so you can scan the barcode for the language in which you work. The scanner supports fifteen languages in addition to the US default. After the Setup Assistant finishes, the IntelliScanner Dashboard opens in which you choose the application you purchased.

intelliscanner-dashboard.jpg

IntelliScanner Dashboard


The next task requires you to type in your activation code found on the Software Delivery Card. Upon activating the software, called Collection, it downloads an auxiliary movie database. Before you've scanned anything, you are prompted to publish your collection to a web site through the IntelliScanner.net free service. Here lies one real value of the lists you create. Next time you're in a store and can't remember whether you already own an item, you can bring up your personal site to check. That's the feature I really need.

Publish Your Collection Lists

If you choose to use the web site service, you set up a New Account with your name, password, and email address through a series of dialogs. You choose the details you want published with the scanned items by checking items. You can also choose how to sort the items.

intelliscanner-net_account

Set Up Your Web Page


The Administration button takes you to a page in which you can delete your records, cancel your account, and change or reset your password and email address.

intelliscanner-net_admin

Web Page Admin Dialog


Before I publish my list, I need to add a few items. All the commands needed exist as icons in the tool bar.

intelliscanner-screen

Collector Tool Bar and Window


I don't have all my movies next to my desk and would rather not transport them up and down the stairs, so I Add Items from the tool bar and press Add Media By Name in the dialog sheet. The next dialog lets me type a keyword and search to see a list of movies. The Command key selects multiple items and click Add to put the UPC in your list.

intelliscanner-add-byname

Add By Name Window


When you press Start, the found movie information goes into your collection. It should take seconds to add movies in a series, such as Star Trek, Star Wars, and Harry Potter, but alas, the built-in database did not include many of those movies, so I had to add them manually. It often lists Blu-ray editions, but not plain old DVDs. So much for saving time running up and down stairs-but there is a solution to that problem. Oddly, Star Trek was not listed, so I added the information manually. The movie information added from the database is quite comprehensive, as shown below.

intelliscanner-movieinfo

Movie Info Window


You can customize the attributes, including the location of the DVD in your environment, what to do with a duplicate entry, and how much row space to allocate to each title. The small blue button next to the UPC code in the screen above lets you check for updates in the movie database also. While I had little trouble adding movies, the books presented a problem. I have a few multi-book series. The ISBN was ignored completely, even when I typed it in myself. That seriously reduced the usefulness of the software for me, but I did find some of the books by searching for title and series and author names in the Add Media By Name dialog. A call to the company resolved my issue. As it turns out, I scanned the wrong code. Paperbacks have a UPC on the outside, but the ISBN, which is what the scanner wants, is inside and starts with the numbers 978. This information is in the Help file, but it would be more helpful if it were also in the Quick Start guide.

The Collection data is stored in your Users Preferences folder, not the IntelliScanner Software folder, so upgrading software doesn't lose your database. It seems to use space effectively also, which means you do not eat up your hard drive space.

Small Frustrations

I had hoped that when adding books with the same author you could type a few letters of the name and have auto fill finish the field for you, but that is not the case. Even though some of the books include the number of pages in the description inserted, those may not be transferred into the Pages field. Some of the descriptions transferred into the Comments field include bylines, but no URL to the source, which I thought was odd.

I published my lists to the free web page , but unfortunately, everything is alphabetical. That's ok for movies, but my books I wanted to list by author and even though I sort my Collection by Creator, i.e. author, the published list is not.

Other Features

The software includes a number of other features, such as Collection Statistics that totals your items by type, and calculates the price of items by total, by location, and lent out items.

You can also track items you lend to other people. Under the Friends button, you can list when someone borrowed your media, when it should be returned, plus keep that information in iCal. It even allows you to choose your Friend from your Address Book data. Curiously, when you click the email button, it opens Mail, but does not add the recipient's email address automatically.

intelliscanner-friends

Friends Window


You can also export and print reports. Built-in reports include record add or modified dates, but you can also create custom reports. Collection uses an iTunes Smart Playlist type of dialog to set your report parameters.

intelliscanner-reports

New Report Dialog


If you want to create a home inventory collection, you can order custom asset tags to stick on any of your stuff. A pack of 100 tags with unique numbers can be ordered in sets of 100, 250, or 500 tags.

IntelliScanner mini

If you object to being tethered to your computer and dragging your media around, you can opt to purchase the IntelliScanner mini. This tiny device, about the size of a large matchbook, does the same job as the Classic scanner. It uses an infrared laser to scan, which they caution not to point at anyone's eyes. The only difference between using the Mini and Classic is that you can use the smaller device remotely and carry it around your neck with the supplied strap. No tromping over floors of stored media, just whip out the mini, and scan up to 1,000 titles before the built-in memory fills to capacity. It charges when connected to the computer via USB, and takes no more than 2.5 hours to fully charge.

intelliscanner_miniusb.jpg

IntelliScanner Mini


If you already have one scanner, you can easily add another from the Tools menu.

intelliscanner-setupassist

Scanner Set Up


The scanner worked flawlessly, but I ran into the same software issues. Most of the movie DVDs slid into the Collection fine, but I still had to search on quite a few book titles. It certainly does speed up the process of cataloging your valued purchases.

No matter which scanner you choose, you will find the resulting lists useful. You can order different collection software separately, but it is less expensive if you order the scanner and software together. The lists you create not only helps you track what you own, but can serve as a valuable resource for insurance purposes, future gifts, and finding common interests between new and old friends. The Classic IntelliScanner is a good deal, but the IntelliScanner mini is much more convenient.

by ilene hoffman, reviews editor


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