I know very little about scanners and the like, but I bought a scanner like 3 years ago, an inexpensive HP for about $170 - $200, and it came with an OCR program. I remember using it and being shocked as to how well it worked.
I have since sold my scanner so I have no names to provide, but I am surprised it is as expensive as you mention...
i have used OmnipagePro v12 several times and it is great... some of the earlier releases worked well, but were difficult to navigate and configure.
I have only used it for typed text though... not written... but the good part is you can teach it to recognize any shape as a certain character... you could have it interpret a solid square to be a letter x if you want. With that in mind i think it wouldn't be too long before you had it recognizing your own hand writing...
i'm a student so i've always managed to find "lo" cost alternatives to locating expensive software packages... i'm sure you know how to do that aswell...
Go to Scansoft.com and see what they offer. Some of their stuff is bundled into Visioneer scanners that are pretty low cost and I have found to be reliable. I think I have owned about 5 or 6 Visioneer scanners over the last ten years.
I use scanners to keep all of my filed documentation "paperless".
I also use Paperport from Scansoft, it is a scanned document management program. OCR is included, output can be in Words doc file, txt file and even Excel file. It also has form filler feature.
Must have for scanner users.
Ep, glad to see you come back and tidy up...did want to ask a one day favor, I want to enhance my resume , was hoping you could make me administrator for a day, if so, take me right off since I won't be here to do anything, and don't know the slightest about the board, but it would be nice putting "served administrator osnn", if can do, THANKS