What is the Best Portable Scanner?

Canon P-215 Scan-TiniWhen traveling or away from your home computer, a good way to stay organized and work efficiently is to use a portable scanner to scan paper documents like sales receipts, business cards, magazine and newspaper articles and hand written notes into your laptop.

Back at home, old letters, warranties, birthday cards, postcards and post-it notes with scribbled phone numbers also are fair game. But flatbed scanners can be bulky and take up lots of scarce desk space, due to their flat-and-wide footprint. I’ve found that using a portable scanner in my office saves space and works just as well for what I need it for, which is mostly text documents.

Best Portable Scanners By Price Range

-$1-5$ Price Range: You can get low priced apps for Android smartphones and iPhones or iPads that will do in a pinch. These basically use the phones’ built-in cameras to capture images and then convert them to various formats like PDF or JPG. I would recommend using these for convenience only, as they are not practical for more than 1 or 2 pages of a document or business card. They make good scanners for receipts, like a restaurant bill, that you need to save for expense account purposes.
(1) http://www.docscannerapp.com/
(2) ScanToPDF

- Under 100$ Price Range: Your best choice here is the VuPoint Magic Wand. A handheld portable scanner that actually has some pretty good features. Very compact and light but you need to be careful when scanning since your hand must be steady as it moves across the page, as is the case with all handheld page scanners. Read my review here>>

- Under 200$ Price Range: Here you can find a few Brother basic mobile scanners like the DSMobile Scanner DS-600, which is reasonably good for causal use and quick on the go work. Read my review here>>

- Over 200$: Now we are getting into the seriously usable scanners for road-warriors- designed to give top quality results with mobility and usability in mind. In this category, you get many of the features and capabilities of a deluxe office scanner, like document feeders, optical character recognition capability (OCR), push button scanning to file, email, Excel or Word and more. Of course, they are still lightweight and small enough to carry in a briefcase.

(1) Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300- Top rated portable. My review>>

(2) Canon imageFORMULA P-150 portable scanner

(3) Canon imageFORMULA P-215 Portable Document Scanner (shown at top of page)

In this category, it looks to me like Canon is starting to challenge Fujitsu as the king of portable scanners. Canon has designed these imageFormula scanners to be fast (15 pages per minute), convenient and small. The two imageFormula models here (also confusingly branded Scan-tini) are fairly similar, with the P-215 being a little more expensive. Is it worth it? I think so.

The P-215 scanner has USB 3.0 compatibility (vs. Usb 2 only for the P-150) It is .20″ wider and 2 oz. heavier. It ships with “Advanced Text Enhancement,” “Character Emphasis,” and various other user-adjustable color settings the P150 does not; it has a built-in “dedicated” card reader slot (which accepts thick, laminated cards as well as paper biz cards and takes the place of a Portable business card scanner); its high-speed interface includes USB 3.0 along with USB 2.0 (P-150 does not); finally, Mac users should know that it is sold as “Lion-ready.”

Here is what one owner had to say about the imageFormula P150:

“here is where the P150 shines and you will need sunglasses.

1. It does receipts seamlessly. The feeder narrows down for even the tiniest gas receipts.
2. It is quick. The paper just runs through without even the slightest of noises or whirring sounds.
3. It makes beautiful scans and very rarely requires adjustments to the settings.
4. OCR is performed automatically. (doesn’t get everything but you can run OCR again with other software such as Acrobat pro etc)
5. The scan software is simple, intuitive, fast and just plain excellent.
6. You don’t have to click on any software to scan. Just stick the paper in and hit the button and voila, it scans. Then just save and your ready for the next one.
7. I haven’t had a jam yet. Seriously. Make sure you install in the included page separator component as it appears some other negative reviewers failed to do so.
8. The thing is tiny, but solid and just very cool. Dust on black is no big deal as some reviewers complain. The thing closes up and is completely protected. The gloss black is fine and quite nice actually. Take care of it, and get a HEPA air filter or something. Give me a break.
9. It doesn’t need a power cable! Just plug into standard USB and you are in business. It apparently will go faster with the included 2nd USB power cable but it’s already WAY faster than my flatbed. I suppose if you were douing a huge stack of paper you would, but I don’t want it to go any faster with the creases and folds in my documents…I’d rather see it go at a nice medium pace.
10. Yes, I tried the NeatReceipts product and save your self. It is a total waste and a real piece of inferior equipment plus it is proprietary and the software is absolutely…”

…read the rest of the review here

Click here to check pricing on Amazon.com for the Canon P-150
Click here to check pricing on Amazon.com for the Canon P-215

Large Format Scanner – Mustek Scan Express A3 1200 Pro

Mustek large format scannerAlthough the Mustek A3 1200 is a model that has been since 2001, this large format scanner from Mustek still gets the job done, at a price considerably less than you’d pay for a professional-grade graphics scanner. We’re talking about one tenth the price. In fact, it is the lowest price large format scanner on the market.

A3 size scanners are one size larger than the standard A4 letter size scanners. In the A series paper sizes, a graphics standard defined by ISO 216, A3 measures 16.5 X 11.7 inches. This just so happens to be the perfect size for scanning comic books.

A3 size is also used by many architects and mechanical drafters for printing out Autocad drawings. (note to engineering types: this scanner is said to be accurate to within .002%) Legal documents such as wills, deeds of property and various certificates also fit this size. Not to mention original art pieces, magazines, antique newspapers or rare books that you wouldn’t want to fold to fit into a regular size scanner.

Some of the A3 1200 Pro’s Features:

A Large Format Scanner for Mac

This scanner is Mac compatible. There are some complaints around the specialty forums and blogs about using it with OS 10.7 (Lion), though. Here is a review that tells you how to use the Mustek A3 1200 scanner with Mac OS 10.7 Lion.

Mustek also makes a newer model, the A3 2400, which scans at 2400 x 2400 dpi. It costs about 100$ more, but would be worth it if you need high quality scanning. Click here for more info on the A3 2400.

Here is one what owner has to say about the Mustek A3 1200:

This scanner does exactly the job for me and it does it nothing less than brilliantly. For this price, you can forget any other brand. Prices elsewhere start at 900 dollars or more. And what more do you need than good image processing, good colour bit quality and high resolution? Mustek has all this!

It has 48-bit possibility, and dpi to 1200. You need a very fast computer with a lot of memory to do that! I use 400dpi on 48-bit colour and the results are…

click here to read the full review


I would highly recommend using Adobe Photoshop to capture images with this scanner, for image manipulation, color correction, editing and filing, as the software that is packaged with it is not up to the task in my opinion. Make sure you have a version of PS which is TWAIN compliant, or get a TWAIN plug-in. Use the import to Photoshop option and you will do fine. For scanning large format multi-page documents, I would recommend using Adobe Acrobat Professional; it works fine with this scanner.

Another thing about the machine that seems a little weird is there is no power indicator light to tell you whether it is on or off. You do not get options to e-mail, copy or fax scans, like on some other scanners, but most people buying this won’t care about that. You’ll need to be careful if you are transporting it to different locations on a regular basis, as the Mustek is not as robustly built as some of the higher priced brands. All of which helps keep the price low.

Check the latest price for the Mustek A3 1200 at Amazon

Pandigital Photo Scanner Review

Pandigital Photo ScannerIt seems mobile scanners are becoming more and more popular. This one, from Pandigital, who also make digital picture frames, is a new portable scanner designed for quickly digitizing analog photo prints of wallet size up to 8 /12 X 11”. It works for both color and black and white. The resolution of 600 dpi is good enough to capture crisp, sharp images.

Most people will want to use the Pandigital Photolink for scanning and archiving old family snapshots and portraits. Why not just use a flatbed scanner? Well, that’s fine for two or three photos, but after you lift the lid a few times, place the picture, then crop it and size it in Photoshop, you’ll look the boxes of family photos in the closet and give up the whole idea.

With the Pandigital scanner, you just feed the pictures into the slot, wait 10 seconds or so, then feed in the next picture. Also, you don’t need it to be hooked up to a computer, the images are saved to an internal flash memory card, which means you can take the Pandigital over to your grandparents’ or aunts’ house and scan in all their photos, too.

The best price on the Pandigital Photolink One-Touch PANSCN06 right now is at Amazon, where it is up to 33% off list price, plus free shipping. That puts it at just under the 100$ mark. Click here to take advantage of this great deal.

A few of the Photolink’s features:

The main complaint I have with this scanner is the lack of either battery or USB power. Considering the fact that it is meant to be portable, having to carry along an AC adapter brick and find an outlet to plug it into seems a bit of a letdown. If mobility is your prime concern, then go with the Vuepoint Magic Wand scanner, which runs on 2 AA batteries. (see our review here)

Resolution may also be an issue- if you need to captures to be top resolution, museum quality archival files, then you will need to sacrifice portability and go with a high quality flatbed scanner like the Epson Perfection V600. (our review here)

Here is what one owner had to say about the Pandigital Photolink:

A very nice compact scanner. Exactly what I was looking for to scan pre-digital camera pictures onto my computer. It does a very nice job on my 40 to 60 year old 2″ by 3″ pictures. It is a pleasure to view them full screen on the computer. They are much clearer and larger than the original photos, not to mention the ease of accessing photos on a computer vs. muddling through numerous photo albums.The scanner is easy to use and 100 times faster than the my computer printer/scanner. –JP.   Abridged for space. click here to read full review

Neatdesk Scanner Review

NeatDesk ScannerThe NeatDesk Scanner is a desktop scanner with it’s own filing system that is designed to digitally scan receipts, business cards and documents all at once. I assume this is aimed at the home office market, mostly for people who want a plug and play solution. There is really no need to go for a high speed document scanner like this unless you are generating large volumes of paper receipts, forms and other documents.

For someone who just needs to scan a form or receipt once in a while for tax purposes, you are better off just getting a good flatbed scanner, for half the price, and lift the darn lid, it doesn’t take much effort. The other option I’d suggest is a mobile scanner like the Magic Wand (see my review), which has the added benefit of being small enough not to take up lots of space on your desktop. If you really need a document scanner, take a look at the real thing, like the Scansnap s1500.

Pros and Cons

The strong suit of the Neatdesk scanner is the filing and organizing system it comes with. That would be the NeatWorks 4.0 software, an applications suite. For example, it will create digital images of receipts and records of vendors, dates and totals, create expense reports and manage business and personal expenses, recognizing dates, subtotals, sales tax, and credit cards used. It also lets you keep track of expenses for tax time, and exports data to Excel, Quicken, QuickBooks, or TurboTax. Another nice thing about the software is that you don’t have to immediately organize and file the scans, after making them. That means that you can be scanning other documents while you work on sorting and organizing the ones just scanned.

The downsides to the software include the fact that it only supports the NeatDesk scanner, so once you have a big database full of documents nicely scanned, organized and filed away, you are locked into using Neat scanners. This alone makes me a little hesitant to recommend this product. Especially for a company that offers no telephone technical support. That’s right, support is by web & email only. Also, the software sore files in database with SQL Server Express, and database backups can be long and tedious.

Some of the Neatdesk scanner’s features-

The scanner is compatible with Windows 7, XP and Vista, plus there is also a dedicated Mac version, the NeatDesk 698 desktop scanner for Mac, for OS X, which allows you to scan up to 10 receipts, 10 business cards and 10 documents at once or a single, 50 page document.

This could have been a great breakthrough product, and still may be sometime in the future, with a few changes to the software, the scanner itself and 1-800 telephone support. For now, I don’t recommend it. If you still would like more information about the Neatdesk Scanner, get further details, see customer comments and latest special price on this page at Amazon.”

Epson Perfection V600 Review

Epson Perfection V600The Epson Perfection V600 photo scanner does an outstanding job of scanning both slides and film, right up there with the Canoscan 9000F, among scanners targeted to the advanced amateur/semi-pro photographer category. The difference between the V600 and the V500 is that this scanner does a better job of handling medium format film. Note to Lomography and Holga camera fans: if you will be scanning any 645 or 6×7 (also known as 120/240) negatives, this is the scanner to get, as the included plastic adapter templates will allow you to scan twice as many negatives at once.

The other difference from the V500 is that the Digital ICE correction software works on slides and film, i.e. transparency media, as well as on reflective media (papers, books, etc.). Epson is second to none in driver support for their line of scanners, also, so whether you use the latest Mac OS or Windows 7, they have you covered.

With optical resolution of 6400 X 9600dpi, Dmax 3.4, and 48-bit color, it does a superb job of delivering crisp clean scans of slides and black and white negatives. This compares to the Canoscan 9000F’s resolution of 9600 X 9600dpi. What do these figures mean?

Resolution and Sharpness

Epson Perfection V600Resolution measures the amount of information captured, and relates to the ability of an image to be enlarged. When you see a scanner advertised as having resolution of 1200 X 1200, for example, the first number represents the horizontal pixels captured by the scanners CCD sensors as they move across the image. The second number is the vertical scanning rate, as determined by the speed the stepper motor moves the sensors vertically, and does not really relate to the image quality.

To make matters more complicated, the actual sharpness of the image quality captured depends primarily on the quality of the optics the scanner’s lens is constructed of, as well as the intensity of the light source. The resolution affects more the ability to enlarge images, and the higher the resolution, the larger the image can be enlarged without sacrificing fine detail. A 3,200 dpi scan from a 35mm color negative, with Digital Ice could be printed at 11” X 13” and look at least as good as the same size print produced by a photo lab.

Getting back to the Epson Perfection V600, here are some of it’s great Features-

The included Epson Scan software has 4 levels of user involvedness. From Full Auto Mode for the ‘Point and Shoot’ type user, to Professional Mode for a more advanced user. If you will be using this scanner to scan color negatives, you may want to download and use Hamrick Software’s VueScan, rather than the included Epson software. VueScan has a wider range of film emulsion profile settings that can give more accurate color balance to your scans, as well as many other helpful functions such as calibration of targets.

What comes included/in the box?

Here is one owner’s comments on the Epson Perfection V600:

I am very happy with the 35mm slide scans I am getting with the Full Auto Mode and 300 dpi setting. It is more than adequate for my needs to digitize my slide collection. It is very easy to load and scan slides. You lay a template on the bed which has guides to get it in the right place and drop up to 4 slides in the open squares in the guide. It takes about 2.6 minutes to scan 4 slides with the settings above. Yes it will take time to scan a lot of slides, but I am willing to take the time because of the results.  -S. Hamilton Excepted for size- Click Here to read original review

Buy the Epson V600 at Amazon

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