I remember the first time I got to use a scanner: it was during high school, and the photography teacher had the only one in the school. I was able to scan a few things during art class, and then tried to teach myself Photoshop with some grainy versions of a photo. Then, in college, one of my roommates got himself a handheld scanner. It had a cord, could only handle things up to about five inches wide, and was it wasn’t small. Plus, you had to move really slowly and it was easy to get a crooked or warped scan.
Since then, flatbed scanners have gotten much cheaper — I’ve had stand-alone scanners and the integrated all-in-one printers. It’s nice having a flatbed for the stability and size, but they take up a lot of desk space (especially since you need to be able to lift the lid). For doing a quick scan of a small item — say, to grab an image of a few cards for a board game review — it would be nice to have something a bit quicker.
It’s slightly thicker than a Sharpie and maybe twice as long (9.3″), but it can scan a letter-sized sheet of paper in about 4 seconds, at up to 600dpi in full color. It’s battery operated, and the Micro SD slot can handle cards up to 32GB (though you’ll need to provide your own). Once you’ve scanned things, you just plug the scanner into your computer with the included USB cable, and download images from there.
The software included, which has OCR for converting scanned images into text, is Windows-only, so I wasn’t able to try that out on my Mac. For Mac users, the scanner simply shows up as a removable drive, and you can copy the images from it to your hard drive. Having the OCR would be a nice bonus, but I don’t currently use any for my flatbed scanner, either.
Also included is a slim leather zipper case. I suppose it’s better to keep the image sensor covered when not in use, but the case is kind of weird-looking, with a little loop that you can snap onto something. You should probably expect to get a few “Is that a scanner in your pocket, or…” jokes the first time you pull it out. I do wish that there was some way to carry the USB cable in the case, too — right now it’s just an extra thing floating around with no place to put it.
Still, it’s pretty cool to be able to scan anything (well, anything flat) with this little wand. I’ve been testing it out on a few things: my online bank lets me deposit checks by scanning them and uploading them, so I don’t have to fire up the flatbed for that anymore. I’ve also scanned some of my kids’ artwork, and I’m thinking about using Jim Kelly’s activity book idea for some on-the-go stuff, maybe the Monster Doodle Book.
Of course, portability still isn’t cheap. The ScanStik retails for $159.99. PlanOn has a few others like it— monochrome scanners, and the DocuPen X line which has Bluetooth capabilities but runs a bit pricier. (I’m not sure where this DocuPen RC850 fits in – it’s older, but similarly priced and seems to have similar specs.) It is a little cheaper than the Doxie Go, but since you move the scanner yourself instead of having the paper fed through it, it can be a little fiddlier. It is, however, incredibly lightweight (about 2 ounces) and quite portable.
It may take a little practice to perfect the scanning technique. For one, larger sheets which won’t shift as much may be easier than smaller ones. I tried scanning my little robot doodle (which is on a bit of cardstock), and you can see from the side-by-side scans below that there are a few bits here and there that got distorted:
The blue robot’s antenna and the corner of its head, for instance, got a little tweaked, probably since it was close to the top edge of the scan and I may have tipped it a bit going over the cardstock’s edge. I haven’t seen similar issues with scanning full pages yet, and so far I’ve only tripped the “too fast” indicator once.
My one other gripe about the ScanStik is that the auto-shut-off is a little too quick. If you’re scanning multiple pages, you better have them lined up and ready to go, because you’ll have to turn the device back on if you wait too long. That requires pushing and holding the power button for a second, so doing that multiple times in a row can get to be a pain. I’m sure it’s meant to conserve battery power, but I wish it would wait just a little bit longer.
Wired: Full-page, full-color scanning that is extremely portable and quite speedy.
Tired: OCR software for Windows only; wiggling too much can distort scans.
Disclosure: review sample provided by PlanOn.