When 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.
- 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…”
Although 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:
- Makes scans in full-color 9600 dpi
- USB 2 compatible
- Works with Mac or Windows
- Size: 15.1 x 3.5 x 21.9 inches
- Weight: 9.5 pounds
- Functions include scan, copy, email, fax and OCR
- Scanning resoloution 1200 x 1200 dpi
- Great Price
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…
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.
The 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-
- Scanner Type: Sheetfed
- Maximum Document Size: 8.5 x 11
- Scanner Element: Contact Image Sensor
- Optical Resolution: 600 dpi
- Power Source: AC Adapter
- Energy Star Compliant
- Shipping Weight: 9 pounds
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.”
The VuPoint Magic Wand scanner would be my top recommended portable scanner for students and researchers. For people who spend a lot of time in the reference section or rare book collection room, where you are not allowed to borrow or even photocopy the documents, carrying one of these hand held scanners in your briefcase or knapsack will be a huge timesaver. It is easy to use- just position the wand on the page, hit the start scan button, and roll the wand over the page.
As soon as the little rollers on the bottom of the scanner start to roll across the page, the scanner light comes on and starts to capture. It will capture a crisp 300DPI (600dpi ay high resolution setting) jpeg format image straight into it’s internal memory. The device is designed to roll from the center of the book’s binding to the outer edge of the page, but you can place it sideways as well, if your book is a non-standard shape.
Note: If you do use yours in a library, be sure that you ask the librarian for permission to use a scanner. The magic wand scanner does use a high intensity light that can contribute to decay of older archival printed materials.
But the Vupoint Magic Wand is a handheld document scanner that can work well in other uses too. If you have a cramped home office with no room for a desktop flatbed scanner, it’s perfect. It is easy to grab for a quick swipe across a magazine page to save a new recipe, or for keeping receipts and business cards where you won’t lose them, on your hard drive. It even has external storage using the optional microSD card, of up to 1280 black and white images. Oh, did I mention it works great with MACs, too? It is one of the few portable scanners that is MAC compatible.
Another cool use for this scanner, if you are into home improvement, is take it along to the big box hardware store when you are shopping for tiles or wallpaper or veneer patterns. Swipe it along a sample tile, for instance, then take it home and print it out to compare how it will match the rest of your decor. Works great for fabrics, too.
VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner (PDS-ST410-VP) Specs and Features:
- Scans color & monochromatic images
- File Format: JPEG (one of few negative points. Would have been good to save in the much smaller PDF format)
- Size: 10 x 1.1 x 1.2 inches
- Weight: 7.5 ounces (less than ½ pound!)
- Scanning Speed: A4 Size: high resolution with color ≤ 28Sec; High resolution with mono ≤ 14Sec; Standard resolution with color ≤ 8Sec; Standard resolution with mono ≤ 4Sec.
- Power Source: 2xAA Batteries (battery life is around 200 min)
- External Memory Support for Micro SD cards up to 16GB
The Magic Wand scanner is bundled with the optical character recognition software package ABBYY Screenshot Reader. Optical character recognition (OCR) software extracts text from images. ABBYY’s program is a screenshot reader type, one which lets you select an area of your computer screen, then extract text from the area and paste it in your clipboard. What this means is that when you scan an image of a book’s page using the Magic Wand, you are able connect the scanner to your computer with a USB cable, (it will appear on your desktop as a USB memory drive) then open the image in a picture viewer and use Screenshot Reader to capture all the text.
I would also recommend buying a microSD flash memory card when you order this scanner; you can buy a 4GB one for around 10 dollars, and it will hold hundreds of page images. Default resolution scans in color average around 500k each; higher resolution 600 dpi scans will be double, around 1MB each, so even a 1GB MicroSD card will hold plenty.
Another accessory to consider is the VuPoint Portable Magic Wand Travel Case. It is stronger than the cover that comes in the box, and has enough space to carry a usb cord, Micro SD card adapter, or even extra batteries.
Where can you buy the VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner?
Strangely enough, Bed Bath and Beyond stocks this scanner, as do numerous office supply and electronics stores. If you don’t want to run around looking for the best price, you can’t go wrong with Amazon.com, prices there are always competitive and shipping is almost always free. Click here to check the scanner’s pricing at Amazon
The Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2 is a handy little device, if you need documents scanned. It’s small, for one thing, so you can fit it on most desktops, which is extremely convenient. But the real question is whether or not the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2 works, and does it work well enough to justify its price tag? (Click here to check latest price)
If you’re in business, be it big or small, you’re living in a hybrid world of digital document imaging, somewhere between the world of paper and the allegedly paperless future. You do virtually all of your communication by way of phones or email, but that hasn’t eliminated as much honest to god on paper paperwork as you might have liked.
Document scanning is a good way to deal with this, assuming that you’re trying to avoid being buried under an avalanche of TPS forms and their cover sheets. This is where document scanners like the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2 come in handy, allowing you to store the documents digitally and shred the rest.
This isn’t to say that document scanning doesn’t come with it’s own problems including but not limited to:
- paper jams
- software issues
- storage space issues
- file corruption
- unforeseen mechanical problems
If you need to keep your office organized and clutter free with a minimum of hassle, you need to buy a good document scanner, which brings us to the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2.
Hardware wise, the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2 is a compact, slick looking device. The actual machine itself is the same as the original model, as the only changes were to the software system that runs it. It’s designed to accommodate paper up to legal size (8.5 X 14 inches) , so if you have larger documents, you’re going to need to look elsewhere.
Aside from the compact size, the other big thing that the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2 has going for it is the sheer speed. The company specs say that the scanner will scan a document every four seconds, or fifteen a minute. The actual machine seems to work a little faster than that, which can actually add to a meaningful amount of time if you use the thing a lot.
While the ScanSnap is primarily intended for use as a document scanner, it also does double duty as a business card scanner, which is a feature that a lot of small businesses ignore when they really shouldn’t be. You probably get a ton of business cards and unless you have some kind of system in place, you probably spend a lot more time than you should keeping track of them.
The Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2 allows you to scan those cards, transfer them to your computer and throw the originals away. This is another area where the desk friendly size comes in, because if you keep it on your desk you can do this in a flash. Instead of looking for business cards, you’ll have them right at your fingertips.
The other real time saver on the ScanSnap is the duplexing feature. Basically, it will scan both sides of a sheet of paper without you having to do anything, so you can actually scan thirty pages a minute by scanning both sides of a two sided sheet of paper. More, if your particular scanner outperforms company specs, which they often do.
The Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2 also does a bunch of stuff automatically, which also serves to save you time. When you use the duplexing feature, it automatically orders the pages in the correct order, assuming that you had them in the right order in the stack. With other scanners, you run a real risk of having to go back in and arrange the files manually, which can eat up a great deal of time.
The ScanSnap also looks at the documents that you’re putting in and automatically switches between black and white and color, so you don’t have to fiddle with the settings if there’s something in color stuffed in the stack of paper you put in the machine. It will also automatically ignore blank pages if you want it to, which is another simple time saver.
With a resolution of 600 dpi, the documents themselves look great when scanned by the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2, and the controls for adjusting the image quality are simple enough for just about everybody. The normal setting, which gives you the fastest scanning time, is probably going to fine for most documents, but you might want to bump it up if the documents have fine print on them.
You should keep in mind that the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2 is a document scanner, which has its own inherent limitations. While most graphics will come through fine, it is not and was never intended to be a photo scanner.
It’s not that it won’t scan them, but the resolution isn’t high enough for them to be especially useful. It also doesn’t scan greyscale, which isn’t ordinarily a problem, but I’m mentioning it here because it might matter to you.
Software wise, the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2 comes with three different packages already loaded; Adobe Acrobat Basic, ScanSnap Organizer and CardMinder. As you might imagine, the latter two are there to help you manage the stuff you’re scanning in with the scanner.
You are probably already familiar with Acrobat, but the version here actually allows you to work with the documents, which is a change from the free version you usually get on the web. The Adobe program is actually pretty expensive on its own, so the inclusion here actually goes a long way to justifying the price of the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2.
Probably the worse thing that can be said about the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2 is that compared to similar devices, it’s a little more expensive. You do get a lot for the money, for example the included Adobe program, and it’s a lot easier to use than many other document scanners, so we’re okay with the price. For the cost, the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2 is probably the second best document scanner, after the Scansnap S1500.
Where can I buy the Fujitsu ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2?
This scanner is available at Amazon, among other online retailers, for a great price. Click here to get more details.
(clutter image thanks to Cogdogblog & Creative Commons)