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Everyone should have a scanner on them these days, whether to safely scan travel documents, save receipts for tax season, or send physical photos to your computer or device. But the days of big, bulky scanners are over.
Those heavy units that once shared space with your printer or fax machine (remember those?) have now been replaced by portable scanners that are small enough to fit inside a shoebox.
The best portable scanners let you scan paper and photos easily, by feeding them through a small opening in the device. Tiny light sensors trace or “scan” your images and text, turning them into digital files.
Also referred to as a “handheld scanner” or “mobile scanner,” the best portable scanners these days can also scan laminated cards (like an ID card or library card), and they’re great for scanning business cards as well (to eliminate having to carry around actual physical cards). The latest portable scanners scan both black and white, and color images, with ease. Love the group pic you got at the amusement park but don’t want to buy multiple copies? Scan the photo with your mobile scanner and get a digital file to share with your friends and family.
The best part: most of these new portable scanners run on battery power, eliminating the need for wires. At a coffee shop and need to quickly scan a file? Just pull out your mobile scanner and get a digitized version of your document in seconds; the best portable scanners can scan a full-color page in as little as five seconds.
There are a couple of differences between a portable scanner and a regular scanner. For starters, a traditional flatbed scanner uses a motorized belt to move the sheet of paper through the machine, while a handheld scanner relies on the user to gently feed the paper through. A portable scanner also won’t deliver the same quality as a traditional flatbed scanner, though most new scanners do a pretty decent job at capturing text and images clearly and accurately with no bleeding, blurry or drop-offs.
The best portable scanners have space (or memory) to store up to a few thousand files internally. Once you get home, you can then transfer the content to a computer via a USB connection or WiFi. What you’ll like: all of these handheld scanners tuck easily into any backpack or bag for quick scanning on the go.
Free up your desk from clutter and pick up one of these popular scanners, to scan, store and share everything easily — no matter where you are.
1. Doxie Go SE Portable Scanner
We like the Doxie Go SE Portable Scanner for its ease of use and expandable memory. Scan full-color pages in less than eight seconds at a resolution of up to 600 dpi.
The Doxie comes with a rechargeable battery that lets you scan up to 400 pages per charge.
The Doxie app syncs scans with your favorite apps, and uses “ABBYY OCR technology” to better recognize the text in your document. What that means: sharper, more accurate scanning with clearer, more readable text.
Doxie delivers crisp, clean copies of your documents in full color at up to 600 dpi. Auto Adjust applies smart cropping, de-skew, and automatic contrast to make every scan look great.
PROS: Doxie lets you store your scans onto an SD card (included). Store up to 4000 scans before needing to sync.
CONS: Takes a couple tries to figure out all the features.
2. Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100
This portable scanner lets you wirelessly send your documents to your phone, laptop or tablet, with the ability to scan a full-color page in about five seconds. “Dual Scan” mode lets you scan two smaller-sized documents at a time (I.e. two business cards or receipts).
The included rechargeable battery lets you scan up to 260 documents on a single charge.
The scanner weighs just 14 ounces and measures just over ten inches wide. Resolution of prints is up to 600 dpi.
Download the “ScanSnap” app and software, and automatically sync your documents with Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive and more, with no driver needed.
PROS: Easy to set up and connect to WiFi and your devices. With battery operation rather than cables, this is a true portable scanner that you can use anytime and anywhere.
CONS: Some say battery life varies depending on the types of documents you are scanning.
3. Brother Mobile Color Scanner
Get scan speeds up to eight pages per minute with this mobile scanner from Brother – one of the most trusted names in printing and scanning equipment.
Compact and lightweight, this portable scanner powers up using the included USB cable and can capture everything from photos and receipts, to documents and even laminated IDs and placards. Brother says the scanner can handle paper documents up to 8.5 x 32 inches.
Scan documents at up to 1200 x 1200 dpi resolution (interpolated) and 600 x 600 dpi (optical).
PROS: Highest resolution scanner on our list.
CONS: Only works with Brother software.