Review: Flic Scanner Media Organizer Gets Your Shelves In Order - InformationWeek

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Review: Flic Scanner Media Organizer Gets Your Shelves In Order

This combination of a small handheld scanner and database software can help you organize books, CDs, and DVDs.

I've got a lot of books in my basement -- a lot of books. About enough to stock a small library -- and because they've been accumulating for years, I've got very little idea anymore what's there. So when I got a review unit of the Flic Scanner Media Organizer, which includes a bar code scanner and software to track books, music, and movies, I was very happy. I thought that something like this could finally help me organize those masses of reading material, find the multiple copies and no-longer-needed volumes, and finally get all those shelves in some kind of order.

Almost, but not quite.



Flic Scanner Media Organizer
Click image to enlarge.

The Flic scanner itself is a nicely compact, no-nonsense handheld unit that works quickly and simply. It comes with a serial connection, a USB adaptor, and a single button -- all you do is press the button, run the scan light down the bar code of your book/CD/DVD, and wait for the beep that indicates that it's got the data. When you're finished scanning, you bring it back to your computer, start up the Collectorz.com software (the scanner comes with three full apps: Music Collector Pro, Movie Collector Pro, and Book Collector Pro), connect the scanner to your PC, and the data will automatically upload to the application.

The included Collectorz software is suitably well-organized and lets you tweak the type of information you collect and how you want to manage it. In its default mode, you have the main list of your various collections (which can be organized into folders) on the left; the contents of the collection you're looking at in the a top window, and information about a specific book/CD/DVD in a bottom window.

Once you've uploaded your scanned barcodes to the appropriate application (and each application is totally separate), you can then do a search of various sources, such as Amazon.com, to see if the codes match. If they do, the data about the item -- name, author/artists, cover art, etc. -- is pulled into the appropriate fields in the database.

Unfortunately, there are problems -- at least, if you plan to use the Media Organizer to organize books. I found that many of the older books piled in my basement had the UPC code on the cover instead of the ISBN which, when scanned in, resulted in a "0 match" result when the software tried to find the title. Some of these books will have the ISBN bar coded on the inside cover (which means you have to go back and re-scan), and some will simply have to be typed in manually. So I'm afraid the scanner will be of little help if you've got to organize a large collection of older (i.e. mid-1980s and earlier) books.



Music Collector is one of the three applications that come with the Flic scanner.
Click image to enlarge.

On the other hand, if you're an audiophile or movie collector, the combination of the Flic scanner and the Collector software works well. I tried it out on a variety of CDs and DVDs, and the results were impressive. And unlike Book Collector Pro (which doesn't include information such as what short stories are contained in anthologies), you get the list of individual cuts from each album -- perhaps because there are more sources, such as Collectorz.com and the album's own CD-Text.

One warning: don't try to play mix and match among the different apps. Just as a test, I scanned in two books, two DVDs, and two audio CDs and when I connected the Flic scanner, the open application -- which happened to be the Music Collector Pro -- picked up all the barcodes, which meant that out of the six, I was only able to collect the two CDs.

While it's got its limitations -- and the $200 manufacturer's price seems high -- the Flic Scanner Media Organizer is still an excellent idea for CD and DVD fans -- or for avid readers with relatively recent collections.


Flic Scanner Media Organizer
Microvision, Inc.
www.microvision.com
Price: $199.95
Summary: This package combines a hand scanner and three applications to offer book, CD, and DVD fans a way to track their collections. It works nicely; however, bibliophiles may find that info on older volumes isn't available.

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