Portable scanners are an emerging market at the moment, with a number of new models popping up recently. I check out three similar models with very different prices to see what you get for your money.
To be honest, I’ve never really used a scanner all that much. Memories of early models have left me thinking the quality was lacking, and that it took rather a lot of time and effort to actually scan anything in. I’ve since had scanners in multi-function units, but found that I rarely scanned things because the software wouldn’t always play nice with my Mac, and it was easier to photocopy instead.
Another limitation has been the size of scanners – for the limited times I’ve needed one, it hasn’t been necessary to dedicate much desk space to it. This is precisely why I was first intrigued to see how these portable models performed. The smallest, the Doxie, measures in at about 5cm x 30cm – barely any bigger than the ruler I used to measure it. I took one with me to my mum’s place to scan some photos for her, and it worked a treat – fitting neatly into my laptop bag where it was barely noticeable.
The Doxie is also the cheapest of the scanners reviewed here, at US$129 (around $140), and compared to the HP and Canon, it also looks the cheapest. But the Doxie is one perfect example of why you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Especially when the cover has pink hearts printed on it.
The HP ScanJet Professional 1000 is next at $299. It’s chunkier than the Doxie, and does feel better made, but setting it up wasn’t exactly child’s play. The Canon imageFORMULA P-150 is the most expensive at $599, but it boasts a few extra features that might make it worth the money.
When choosing a scanner like this, the first question you need to ask yourself is what you’ll primarily be scanning. If you need to scan thick cardboard, all of these models are out, as the feeders are designed primarily for paper or photos. You might want to look into one of the many flatbed scanners available. But if you can handle that trade-off for superior portability, read on to see which option is best for you.
Click on the panels below to see how each scanner performed.
Note: if you’re looking for something a level up in cost, the $985 Fujitsu Scan Snap S1500 M will be reviewed in the September issue of Australian Macworld magazine. It features an automatic document feeder like the Canon P-150, and can cope with up to 50 pages at a time. It integrates well with the Mac, and has a plethora of features for its relatively high price.