A Guide to the Best Portable Scanners of 2022
Nowadays, almost everyone carries their smartphone with them at all times. And there are numerous smartphone document scanning apps that you can install, which will immediately convert a picture that you take into a pdf. But, when you want to scan a stack of documents, on both sides, that can get a bit tedious. Or maybe you want to scan different types of media, such as photos or business cards. There are portable scanners that can get the job done, quickly and conveniently, with great image resolution!
The great thing about these portable scanners is their compact size. Some models can be half the size of a desktop scanner, and small enough that you can carry it around with your laptop. Many of them don’t even require wall current! They can be powered up by batteries, or a USB connection. And some allow you to send the scan to email, or a wireless device like your laptop, tablet, or smartphone!
We’ll go through some of the features of the best portable scanners. You’ll immediately see the tremendous convenience of being able to convert important documents, receipts, and photos to digital form. A portable scanner will help you keep compact versions of important documents, without all the clutter!
Types of Portable Scanners
You’ll notice that there are two main types of portable scanners, depending on how you feed in the document to be scanned:
Manual feed: There are portable scanners that require you to feed in the pages by hand, one at a time. An example is the Brother DS-640 Compact Mobile Document Scanner. It will only scan one side of the page at a time. So, you’ll have to flip the page over and rescan it, to obtain a scan of the other side.
Brother DS-640 Compact Mobile Document Scanner
Sheet-feed scanners: These will have an automatic document feeder or ADF. For example, the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i allows you to insert 10 pages at a time in the document feed. It will then accept the pages one by one, scanning both sides of each page if you like!
Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i
Wand scanner: The scanners we mentioned above are great for individual pages and photos. But what if you want to scan pages of a book? For this, there are wand scanners. Instead of having the page pass through the scanner, you run the scanner over the page of the book or magazine. An example is the IRISCan Book 5 Wifi Wand Portable Scanner.
IRISCan Book 5 Wifi Wand Portable Scanner
What reviewers say
Here are some pointers from customers who bought a portable scanner:
Resolution: Pay close attention to the resolution that the manufacturer advertises, and what customers who bought the product say in their reviews. There are scanners that advertise scanning at 600 or 1200 dots per inch (=dpi), and unfortunately, customers were disappointed by the actual scan quality, or by how slow the device scanned the pages.
Prefer the document feed and the duplex scanning: People who bought a scanner that requires you to feed the pages in manually, one page at a time, ended up wishing that they could use a document feed, especially when they’re interested in saving over 100 pages of documents! It can be used for small quantities of scans, though.
Great for scanning old photos and receipts: If you have a collection of old photographs, the quality of the colors can change over time. But scanning them and digitizing them can help you retain huge numbers of photos so that you can print them with the same color quality as the original! Also, you may have important receipts of purchases, and it’s important to keep a copy. Keeping the receipts in digital form is a big relief: you don’t have to be concerned that you lost the hard copy. The Doxie Go SE will let you scan and save as many as 1,200 photos on an SD card or USB flash drive. Some versions of the scanner even have WiFi capability, letting you scan and save to a laptop or smartphone. And once you have converted the pictures to digital files, you can sort them by year, or by topic!
Doxie Go SE Portable Scanner, with WiFi capability
Here are some features of portable scanners, where one model can stand out above the rest:
Power: Many portable scanners allow you to get power from an AC adapter, a rechargeable battery, or a USB power cable. The Epson WorkForce ES-300W Portable Document Scanner allows for these three power options. The Brother Duplex and Wireless Document Scanner (Model No. DS-940DW) uses only two power options: by USB cable, or by its rechargeable battery.
Scanning speed: Undoubtedly you’d like to be able to scan a large number of documents quickly. One of the fastest devices in the Best Reviews Guide top 10 is the Epson WorkForce ES-300W Document Scanner. It can scan 25 pages per minute, and 50 images per minute. It is able to scan both sides of the page in a single pass through the scanner!
Scan to searchable pdf: Many portable scanners are sophisticated enough to scan a document and create a pdf in which you can search for individual words. The scanner’s software will usually include an option for combining numerous scans into a single document. Look for a portable scanner with optical character recognition (= OCR). For example, the Doxie Go SE Portable Document Scanner uses ABBYY OCR technology to create a pdf where you can search the document for particular words. You can also convert it to a Word or Excel document.
Storing the scans: Portable scanners now give you a number of options as to where to store your scans. Some allow you to insert an SD card or flash drive. Some, like the Epson RapidReceipt Document Scanner (Model No. RR-70W), are a bit fancier and allow you to scan to cloud services such as Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, or OneDrive. That way, you can access your content from any device, as long as you have an Internet connection! Some models allow you to scan and email directly, or use WiFi to send the scan directly to a tablet or smartphone.
We reviewed some of the features of portable scanners, both scanners where you must feed the media manually, and others where you can scan a stack of documents one after the other. Even if you have an all-in-one printer that can also scan documents, you’ll see that a dedicated portable scanner can give you a level of versatility and freedom that a flatbed scanner or printer scanner can’t approach!