capsule review

IntelliScanner Express

As we go through life, we invariably collect a lot of possessions—some of us so many that we need a tool to sort them all out. IntelliScanner Express, a combination hardware and software package, tracks your home assets, media, and wine collections using the included Home Assets, Wine Collector, and Media Collector software, respectively. It also features auction automation software to help you unload those old grunge rock albums now that you’ve finally shaved your goatee and traded in your flannel shirt. The included barcode scanner worked flawlessly out of the box, with both the bundled software and other barcode-reading applications. However, there were problems with the software that I had to resolve with tech support.

The Components

The Wine Collector software works extremely well. When you scan in a label’s barcode, Wine Collector will query an online database, and then categorize and sort the bottle by name, winery, vintage, and varietal. A location tracking feature helps you remember if that bottle is in the cellar or the cabinet, while smart lists (similar to Smart Playlists in iTunes) can help you find all your wines from a particular winery or year, for example.

The Home Assets software is useful for tallying items around the house, and it could easily be used for a home business. Scan in an item’s barcode—or affix one of the included barcode stickers—and you can associate product data such as a description, purchase price, resale value, insurance information, location, and category. The downside is that when you use the program’s barcode stickers, you have to manually enter all the data.

The Auction Automator helps you sell your media and electronics online. It relies on eBay and Amazon databases to look up common electronics such as cell phones and even AirPort Express base stations, but it didn’t recognize some of the older devices I tried. Auction Automator was also quite handy for selling media. Scan in the barcode from a book, movie, DVD, or game, and the software automatically lists your items for sale on Amazon or Half.com. The software also streamlines the selling process on eBay. After you enter a sales category, and scan in the barcodes, eBay will search for Pre-filled Item Information in its database, such as movie descriptions and film credits, and post it automatically.

The Media Collector tracks your movies, books, music, and games. It’s similar to Delicious Library (   , March 2005 ), although the latter can accept input barcodes from either a barcode scanner or a FireWire Web camera. While the Media Collector software works quite well for most items, I ran into trouble when I tried to scan DVDs or tried to switch viewing options from the default two-column layout to the three-column widescreen or cover layouts. When scanning in DVDs, Media Collector would freeze during mid-lookup, and required a Force Quit to exit the application. The company quickly released a patch that fixed both issues, noting that the glitch was the result of a major change to one of the third-party databases it uses to look up media. That change did not affect the other IntelliScanner software, but it illustrates the general problem of relying on third-party data.

While Intelli Innovations deserves praise for the quick fix, I am disappointed with the company’s tech support. I could not reach a human being on the phone, and tech support took several hours to respond via e-mail.

Finally, considering that many USB barcode scanners cost around $100, this software/hardware combo is expensive at $249.

Macworld’s Buying Advice

Some of IntelliScanner Express’ features—especially the Wine Collector and the Auction Automator—are highly useful, while the Home Assets software makes a great inventory management tool for a home-based small business. But for users who already have an iSight camera and who just want to track their book, music, game, and movie collections, I highly prefer Delicious Library for that application’s superior interface and lower price.

[ Mathew Honan is a San Francisco-based freelance writer and photographer. In addition to Macworld , his work has appeared in Wired, Time, and Salon.]

Wine Collector lets you create smart lists based on price, varietals, vintages, winery, and other data.
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