Reviews: A Paperless ScanJet and A Device to MPEG your Video from any Source

Brett Burney is the Legal Technology Support Coordinator at Thompson Hine in Cleveland, Ohio. He regularly reviews products for Law.com's Automated Lawyer and Law Office Computing Magazine. Feel free to e-mail Brett with your legal technology questions.

Link to Archive of Burney's Gadgets for Legal Pros

Flyin' Paperless on a Scanjet

Personal desktop scanners are heralded as the solution to your paper problem. If you have stubborn mounds of paper on your desk, then invest in a scanner that can digitize everything quickly and efficiently. One mighty contender for this job is the HP Scanjet 7800.

At first glance, the Scanjet 7800 might look like a toaster or a stand-up printer. This has to be one of the oddest shaped scanners I've ever seen - which is sort of appealing. I was a bit concerned about the shape until I actually used the unit and its quirky form-factor started to make sense.


Measuring 12.3" high by 12.6" wide by 19.7" deep, the Scanjet 7800 is a bit large for a desktop scanner. This is certainly a unit that will need to sit on the corner of a big desk, or perhaps live on its own side-table.

You feed your documents in to the top of the unit, and they come sliding out the bottom. On the back right of the unit, you'll also find a smaller slot that is perfectly fitted for scanning business cards.

On the back of the Scanjet 7800 is the power plug, the USB port, and a power switch. On the front face of the scanner you'll find a small, two-number LCD panel surrounded by four buttons and a rocker switch.

There were several warnings in the packaging that instructed to install the software before plugging in the scanner. HP provides a very nice software package with the 7800 that includes a robust scanner driver (TWAIN driver), ReadIris Pro OCR for optical character recognition, ScanSoft PaperPort for document management, Newsoft Presto! BizCard Reader for scanning business cards, and Kofax VirtualReScan (aka Kofax VRS) which can help improve scan quality on hard-to-capture documents. That is a generous software package and I was happy with every piece.

Once I had the software installed, I plugged in the USB cable and slipped in a single page ripped from a magazine. One button on the front of the unit is the "Scan Document To" feature which prompts the scanner to zip the document through and opens a capture window on your computer. Once the scan is complete, you can tweak the result by cropping, turning, and even deskewing (which I found worked terrific).

The LCD panel doesn't look like much - it only has enough room to blink a number between 01 and 30. But those numbers relate to "Profiles" that you can pre-program for the scanner so you don't have to manually change your settings every time. The 7800 is programmed with about 9 default profiles, but you can customize the rest. Fortunately, the 7800 even has a small sliding tray below the LCD screen so you can keep track of all your fancy profiles by number.

For example, when the LCD panel shows "01" that means the first profile is selected. When I hit the scan document button, it will scan the document as a one-sided black & white PDF at a 200 dpi resolution. If I select profile "04" (by using the rocker switch right next to the LCD panel) then that will create a color PDF and immediately send by e-mail to a recipient of your choice.

I found the concept of profiles easy to master and it was a breeze to create my own custom profiles.

I was very impressed with the 7800's scanning speed. It will scan up to 25 pages per minute (ppm) if you use the automatic document feeder (which can hold up to 50 pages at once).

Another impressive feature of the Scanjet 7800 is that it can scan both sides of a piece of paper in one pass. I've seen this feature starting to become standard on many desktop scanners, but I felt the 7800 did an especially good job.

The only knocks against the Scanjet 7800 is that it's a little big and the cost is much bigger. The 7800 retails for $799. I personally feel that is a powerfully high price point, but I have to admit that you get a good value in the bundled software and a quality unit.

MPEG your Video from any Source

It might be a stretch to find a legal use for this device, but I'm going to try anyway because I see more and more folks asking for easier ways to finagle video - both analog and digital.

The Neuros MPEG 4 Recorder 2 is one of those simple, effective, "it-just-works" types of devices. It measures 4.6" x 3.42" x 0.71" and weighs under 5oz. It has an attractive glossy black finish on top with a few slots on the side. Included in the box are two video/audio RCA cables (the ones with red, white, and yellow connectors).

The primary focus of the Neuros MPEG 4 Recorder 2 is to capture video from a specified source and convert it to an MPEG 4 video clip that can be played in a variety of places - most notably on PCs with the free QuickTime video player from Apple.

If this doesn't seem like a big deal, consider how you get video from your DVD, VCR, video camera, or DVR on to your computer? The Neuros MPEG 4 Recorder 2 can do all the work for you, and the video can be shared and viewed at your leisure right from your PC.

For my initial test, I wanted to grab a sitcom I had recorded on to my DVR so I could watch it on my video iPod. I plugged one cable into the video-out ports on my DVR unit with the other end going into the MPEG 4 Recorder. The other cable went out from the Recorder in to my TV. I then hit play on my DVR and record on the Neuros Recorder. When it was done, I took the memory card out, put it into my computer's memory card reader and simply copied the file. It was really that easy.

When you plug the Neuros Recorder in to your TV, a very basic menu appears that allows you to change items like resolution size and the name of the file. A small remote allows you to control all the features since there are no buttons on the unit itself.

The Neuros MPEG 4 Recorder 2 has two memory card slots - one for Sony Memory Sticks (which can be played in Sony Playstation Portable units) and the other for Compact Flash cards. Fortunately, the newer "Plus' model replaces the CF slot with a Secure Digital (SD) memory card slot.

The main reason I bring up the Nueros MPEG 4 Recorder 2 is that it's a fun machine, especially when you can dub movies and TV shows of your DVR and put them on you computer.

The main area I see this device being helpful in the legal profession is in the increasing requests for video "ripping" from DVDs and in capturing relevant video clips. For example, if you have a VHS tape or DVD from the other side, and want to use some of those video clips in a Microsoft PowerPoint slideshow, the Neuros MPEG 4 Recorder 2 can be your best friend in that it does exactly what it says it does for only $129.99.