One area I've been wanting to write about is the ever increasing availability of wine-related consumer technology. It's no secret that I'm kind of a nerd, but you can't fool me either. The statistics we gather from Google Analytics shows that you as well, our readers, are not traditional users of technology. A significant portion of you are accessing our site from Macs, iPhones, and even using Linux. An even larger portion of you are using Firefox, Safari, and other non-Microsoft browsers. What this tells me is that many of you appreciate cutting-edge technology as much as I do and would appreciate knowing what's out there related to wine. If I'm right, then you're going to be intrigued with the following product.
The folks at IntelliScanner were nice enough to send us a review unit of their newest product: the Wine Collector Mini. In short, the Wine Collector Mini is a combination wireless barcode scanner and software package used to electronically catalog your wine collection.
How does it work? In theory, tracking your wine collection is easy as scanning your wine's barcode and uploading the data into your computer. Once it's uploaded, IntelliScanner's Wine application references your barcodes to its online database and retrieves any available data. Think of it the same as popping a CD into iTunes and having it automatically retrieve song name, artist, album art, etc.
Enough talk, let's see what's included when you purchase the Wine Scanner Mini:
The version shipped to us is the Wine Collector Special Edition, which includes:
- IntelliScanner mini 200 ultra-portable barcode reader
- Included wine management software (version 3.2)
- A custom wooden wine crate
- 1 roll of custom printed asset tags (500 tags)
- Velvet, drawstring carrying pouch for the IntelliScanner
- Additional archiving software for items like DVDs, CDs, comic books, home assets, and kitchen-related goods.
I have to admit that the presentation of the packaging is absolutely beautiful. It clearly conveys that this isn't just a scanner with some software, but a total package created just for your wine inventory. To highlight a few nice touches, one would be that the custom inventory tages were pre-printed with TheOregonWineBlog.com on them. That was a pleasant surprise as these tags are used for wines that do not have barcodes. Another thing I want to highlight is how small the scanner is. For some reason I expected something the size of a deck of cards, but this thing is the size of the fob for my car. Mini is no exaggeration.
Now to give this thing a test run. For my first go, I have decided to scan 13 bottles of wine we have in the same rack. This selection includes wines from various wineries around the Northwest and all have barcodes, so I won't need any custom inventory labels. How'd the results look after scanning each bottle as well as the detail codes supplied on supplemental sheets? Well...
Not so great. For the wines that barcodes were found, only two retrieved full and correct information. Five other bottles loaded partial information, but not enough to correctly identify what I actually scanned beyond who made it. The other six bottles? No wines were found in IntelliScanner's database, which means I have to enter them manually.
Before I go any further, I'd like to point out what you're thinking and that's that 7/13 isn't a very good return. I agree. Where I think the problem lies is the size of their Wine application's user base. While my bottle of 2006 Shining Hill from Col Solare didn't show up when first scanned, it should now show up for everybody else now that I manually entered information for it. I can imagine IntelliScanner can only scan so many wines on their own without community involvement and, unfortunately, it appears I have different taste in wine than most users.
Once information is loaded into the program, retrieving information and sorting through your wine is almost identical to using iTunes. Because their software works on both Windows and Mac OSX, I think using a familiar interface is critical to making endusers comfortable right away. There really isn't much of a learning curve. This is what you can expect with information completely filled out:
So, would I recommend you go out and spend $279 on the Wine Collector Mini? That depends on what you're expecting. If you're looking for something that makes organizing and tracking your wine incredibly easy, IntelliScanner's Wine application makes it as easy as it gets. While the scanner itself may not record the majority of your wine at the moment, users (like myself) are adding more and more wine each day. If you're looking for something that will scan all of your wine and accurately retrieve every piece of information, I would suggest waiting for future reviews to see if newer users are having better luck.
Instead of leaving it at that, I would like to suggest a way to easily increase their database's accuracy and total number of wines: send Wine Scanner Minis out to wineries. As many as possible. With these in the hands of wineries, the wineries themselves can go through their entire libraries and get scanning. The additional benefit is I'm sure a lot of wineries would really dig the technology and gladly support selling these in their tasting rooms.
I've played with quite a few pieces of cellaring software and so far this is definitely my favorite. While I'm kind of disappointed by their database's ability to retrieve information on my wine, I'm very impressed on how easy it is to sort and track my wine. Once it's all scanned, you can even upload your library and keep track of it online!
You can purchase Wine Scanner Mini for $279 from IntelliScanner's website or the corded version of their scanner for $179.
More and bigger photos can be found on our Flickr Stream.