The driver is where we run into our first hiccup with the IRIScan Mouse. While this is supplied on a CD, we also went online to ensure we were using the latest version – only to discover that we couldn’t find one. Though the IRIScan Mouse is being advertised on IRIS’ website, it appears that the company doesn’t yet have the relevant driver on its site yet, which may cause a minor headache for those without optical drives on their laptops or tablets.
On a more positive note, IRIS doesn’t just throw in a three-month Evernote premium voucher with the IRIScan Mouse, but also the full version of its own IRISCompressor software. As the name suggests, IRISCompressor is compression software that you can use to turn both your scanned images and any bloated PDF documents into PDF files up to a claimed 20 times smaller. You can also merge multiple documents or images into a single PDF. Basically, IRISCompressor nicely complements the instant convenience of any hand-held scanner. It’s also worth around €29 on its own, and as such is a very welcome inclusion.
Getting back to the CD-based IRIScan Mouse driver and software, this installed without issue on our test machine and, after plugging the peripheral into a spare USB port, everything worked without a hitch. IRIS’ scanning software is rather rudimentary but does provide all the functions you might need.
Pressing the dedicated ‘Scan’ button on the mouse brings up the software automatically. First you’re in a ‘scan window’, where whatever you’re scanning appears live, surrounded by a black background. You can use the scroll wheel to zoom in on whatever the mouse is seeing, again in real time. Lifting the rodent off the scan surface or pressing the scan button again takes the scanned image into the software’s ‘editing’ mode.
In the editing mode, IRIS’ software lets you define the area of the scan you want to save. From here you can also choose to rotate it; adjust the hue, saturation, contrast and brightness; change the background to white, black or transparent; or even erase bits of it. This covers all the basics of your average scanning package, and from here you can export your scan to more advanced software for further editing.
The IRIScan Mouse scans at 300dpi, just like the average handheld scanner. Scans generally came through nice and clear, and when scanning documents, the software made automatic corrections where they were moved a little in between getting from one end of the page to the other.
You can scan a surface in any way you like: back to front, up to down, or even in a spiral pattern – and most of the time the end result will be legible if not perfect. If the scanner doesn’t pick something up properly or needs to make too large an adjustment, it will ask you to scan the relevant area again.
Minimum recommended hardware for using the IRIScan are a 1.2GHz Core Duo or Athlon 64 1.7GHz CPU backed by 1GB of RAM, and for now Windows XP or better is also a requirement.
With relatively high-end wireless portable scanners going for around £70, the similarly priced IRIScan Mouse doesn’t come all that cheaply. However, it would be fairer to compare the price of a scanner and mobile mouse, and most hand-scanners don’t offer you the level of flexibility that this one does.
Of course, this puts IRIS’ rodent up against the LG LSM-100 Scanner Mouse, which offers much the same feature set but costs around £55. However, IRIS is a company with years of experience in the mobile scanning and document virtualisation industry, while the IRISCompressor software is a great tool that definitely adds some value (as do the carrying pouch and cleaning cloth). Also, the IRIScan Mouse is newly released and therefore likely to come down in price a little.
Building a scanner into a computer mouse might not sound like a winning combination, but we were pleasantly surprised to find that the IRIScan Mouse performs both functions well enough. So much so, in fact, that we would have no hesitation in recommending it – at least once its price comes down a little. If you can't wait for the price to drop, and the bundled IRISCompressor software seems like it will be handy, then this multi-talented rodent is well worth considering. It’s well-built, reasonably attractive, makes for pleasant mousing and, most importantly, offers a good handheld scanning experience that makes digitalizing documents, photos or any other flat surface as easy as pie.