Value: Does Cost Translate to Better Performance?
At first glance, the price range of the products we reviewed seems broad. But does paying more net you better performance? The answer is not that straightforward. Some applications are sold as monthly subscriptions while others are outright purchases.
Adobe Acrobat Pro DC's price is at the high end of the spectrum. And while you certainly get more functionality from this all-new version of Acrobat, you must pay for this software on a month-to-month or yearly basis, which ultimately adds up to a higher price point than the other software apps on our lineup that offer outright purchases. At the same time, individuals who purchase this more expensive program receive constant software updates. Another variable that affects prices is that some OCR products have different prices for Macintosh versions of the software. So pricing isn't always a reflection of added functionality nor should it be used to judge the quality of an application.
Performance: Does the Application Perform Its Tasks Well?
In OCR software, performance is everything. A program may have a number of features, but its primary function is to convert images into accurate, searchable text in a format that duplicates the original graphic design.
Features that help improve the accuracy of your documents range from image-editing tools, like 3D correction, to language recognition features that convert documents ranging in languages, symbols and characters.
Performance also encompasses how easy the application is to use. For example, is the program straightforward to download? Is it designed intuitively so you don't have to spend much time utilizing the help resources? Can it enhance or adjust the scan to improve accuracy and make the process even easier? Because of these considerations, performance was heavily weighted.
Features: What Specific Tasks Does the Software Perform?
We reviewed each OCR software's feature set to see which programs provide the scanning functions that best fit your project's needs. Some features, like the ability to convert mobile phone photos to electronic files, may be vital to you but may not be important to someone else. Therefore, we didn't score scanning capabilities as highly as accuracy and usability.
Integration: Does It Work With Your Most Used Applications?
The best OCR software works with the applications and storage methods you are the most familiar with and allows you to take a PDF and convert it to a Microsoft Office format like Word or PowerPoint.
If the OCR software does not integrate with cloud storage (which two of the applications on our list don't), you can read our review of the best cloud storage services and manually upload your files to the cloud.
Help & Support: What Resources Are Available?
While OCR software should be intuitive, you want easy access to support materials when you need help. For example, does the software offer a user manual, tutorials, answers to frequently asked questions or the ability to contact a customer service or technical support rep?