The 10 Best Portable Scanners

Updated June 01, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

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We spent 42 hours on research, videography, and editing, to review the top picks for this wiki. Never leave home again without one of these portable scanners to ensure you'll be able to keep up with all your document digitization needs from anywhere in the world. They're perfect for importing standard typed pages on-the-go, but can also handle photos, receipts, business cards, and more while keeping you mobile. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best portable scanner on Amazon.

10. Avision IS15+

Designed to quickly process stacks of photos so you can view them outside of your dusty attic or old family album, the Avision IS15+ saves images as JPEGs to any SD card or USB thumb drive. It is powered by a rechargeable lithium battery.
  • single-handed operation
  • handles 5 x 7 photos in seconds
  • 300 dpi resolution is a bit low
Brand Avision
Model IS15+
Weight 1.7 pounds
Rating 3.5 / 5.0

9. MSRM Wand

Small enough to store in just about any briefcase or backpack, the MSRM Wand is a highly mobile solution for all of your image and document digitization needs. Just slide it slowly and steadily across any surface and let its import software do the rest.
  • includes a microsd card
  • choice of jpg or pdf formats
  • lacks text recognition software
Model pending
Weight 11.5 ounces
Rating 3.6 / 5.0

8. Brother DS-620

The Brother DS-620 gives you the option to save to a number of different formats and destinations for managing documents and workflow, which you can control via the bundled drivers for Windows, Mac, and Linux systems. It's capable of digitizing media up to 32 inches long.
  • can merge multiple pages into 1 pdf
  • weighs less than one pound
  • rollers require frequent cleaning
Brand Brother
Model DS-620
Weight 1.9 pounds
Rating 4.0 / 5.0

7. Epson WorkForce ES-300W

The Wi-Fi-enabled Epson WorkForce ES-300W can send documents wirelessly to your smartphone, tablet, or computer at the push of a button. It's also compatible with popular cloud services such as Google Drive and Dropbox, and can auto-feed up to 20 pages at a time.
  • capable of duplex scanning
  • reaches impressive speeds of 25 ppm
  • setup and installation is a bit slow
Brand Epson
Model ES-300W
Weight 4.5 pounds
Rating 4.4 / 5.0

6. Flip-Pal Wireless

The Flip-Pal Wireless is the rare flatbed model with an impressively compact design that also packs a punch. Its EasyStitch software automatically reassembles multiple segments of your original documents with the highest level of detail possible.
  • powered by 4 aa batteries
  • clear bed for easy positioning
  • burns through batteries quickly
Brand Flip-Pal
Model Flip-Pal 100C
Weight 2.2 pounds
Rating 3.9 / 5.0

5. Canon P-215II

The USB-powered Canon P-215II is suitable for home offices, classrooms, and everywhere in between thanks to its compact form factor and impressive set of features. It can send your documents directly to most cloud services and works even faster than some desktop models.
  • dual sensors for double-sided media
  • integrated card feeder
  • rollers tend to squeak when new
Brand Canon
Model P-215II
Weight 3.2 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

4. Doxie Q

The Doxie Q is easy to set up and delivers intelligent functionality when digitizing your documents. It includes a rechargeable battery, internal memory, and integrated syncing software that sends files directly to your computer or smartphone over Wi-Fi.
  • stores up to 7200 images
  • extremely compact design
  • retractable document feeder
Brand Doxie
Model DX300
Weight 2.8 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

3. TaoTronics TT-DS011

The TaoTronics TT-DS011 is a 12-inch wand that can accommodate books, photos, receipts, or anything flat. Its rechargeable lithium battery allows you to take it anywhere, and it comes with optical character recognition software so you can copy text from images with ease.
  • up to 1050 dpi resolution
  • built-in white balance calibration
  • works with standard sd memory cards
Brand TaoTronics
Model TT-DS011
Weight 1.1 pounds
Rating 4.9 / 5.0

2. Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i

The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i can digitize up to 12 double-sided color or monochrome pages per minute, and features a 10-sheet auto document feeder. It can automatically detect paper size and color, and can even send files directly to most cloud services.
  • includes software for macs and pcs
  • one-touch searchable pdf creation
  • powered by usb or ac adapter
Brand Fujitsu
Model PA03643-B005
Weight 4.7 pounds
Rating 4.8 / 5.0

1. VuPoint Magic Wand Wi-Fi II

The VuPoint Magic Wand Wi-Fi II is a two-in-one kit that can be used freehand or with its auto-feeding docking station. It's compatible with microSD cards of up to 32 GB for digitally archiving all of your documents and photos in high definition.
  • choice of resolutions up to 1200 dpi
  • can handle sheets over 10 feet long
  • comes with a carrying pouch
Weight 3 pounds
Rating 4.7 / 5.0

A Brief History Of The Scanner

As amazing as it may be to conceive of this today, the forerunner to the now ubiquitous scanner has roots dating back to the middle of the 19th Century. In the mid 1850s, Italian physicist and inventor Giovanni Caselli invented the Pantelegraph, an ingenious device that could reproduce simple ink drawings by "scanning" them with an electrically charged stylus which transmitted pulses of electricity to a remote unit via telegraph wire. The second unit received the pulses of electricity and used the charge to release blue ink, faithfully recreating the original pattern.

The image scanner as we know it today, that is, a unit that records images digitally that can be stored and reproduced an indefinite number of times, can be dated back to the middle of the 20th Century. The first functional computer linked scanner was drum scanner, a device that uses an acrylic cylinder to which the document or photograph to be scanned is fixed. The cylinder rotates before a series of optics called photomultipliers which capture the contrasts and colors of the images whirled before them, faithfully recreating the image scanned in detail.

While drum scanners still see occasional use, especially when dealing with photographic negatives or other specialty applications, they have been largely superseded by flatbed scanners, which use a flat sheet of glass or another clear material and shined light to capture an image of a document, photo, or object. The flatbed scanner detects the reflection of the light it produces to recreate the color, contrast, and shapes or patterns of that which it scans.

Today, often a digital camera plays the role a scanner occupied a few short years ago, and many smartphones can now use their built-in cameras to create a verisimilitude of a scan virtually indistinguishable from that created by a dedicated unit. That said, to create truly high quality, crisp and clear scans, an actual image scanner is still the ideal choice. And no longer are these units large and unwieldy, nor are the complicated to use. The portable scanner comes in two basic designs: the roller-fed option, through flat documents like photos or receipts may be passed, and the glide-over (AKA handheld) scanner, which is passed over the surface of the object go be scanned by hand.

Who Needs A Portable Scanner?

A portable scanner may seem like a luxury to some people, and like an absolute necessity to others. The chances are good, however, that almost anyone actively participating in the modern world can find at least a few fine uses for a portable scanner.

For anyone involved in law enforcement, forensics work, or field research of almost any kind, a portable scanner can greatly simplify investigative work and data collection. Imagine the benefits offered to a detective who can copy files found at a crime scene while being able to leave them as they were when located. Or picture the archeologist capturing high resolution images of a wall of hieroglyphics or a cuneiform tablet using a handheld scanner without so much as disturbing the ancient dust laying atop his or her find.

Of course most people adopt the use of a portable scanner for much more quotidian purposes, though that renders them no less useful. The portable scanner is a great asset to anyone in human resources or recruiting who wishes to make quick copies of the business cards and/or resumes of potential hires or new clients they meet. A portable scanner is a great asset to those manning a booth at a job fair, for example, when the full complement of hardware usually at one's disposal in an office must be left behind.

So too can portable scanners be helpful for the business person away from his or her desk who wants to scan receipts for an expense report, copy a document to be reviewed and edited later, or even for the sly operator who wants to surreptitiously copy a file or photo that a competitor would not want recreated.

Choosing The Right Portable Scanner For You

The price range varies widely from one portable scanner to the next, so consider your specific needs before you start to consider specific units, thus to avoid any reticence to buy caused by sticker shock. Not all portable scanners are created equal, and not all are capable of accomplishing the same tasks, so choose wisely and spend as needed.

If your primary desire for a portable scanner stems from copying photographs, it's imperative that you choose a unit capable of stable, high resolution scans that minimize blurring. There are compact flatbed style scanners that will best suit this purpose, and there are roller-fed units that will prove adequate if not ideal.

For scanning simple documents like receipts or business cards where the information is of importance but the perfect recreation of the document's appearance is not, you can opt for either a handheld scanner or a roller-fed unit. Roller-fed units are ideal when scanning full-sized eight-inch by eleven-inch (or legal sized) paper documents that do indeed need to be faithfully recreated for later reprinting and/or review.

The handheld scanner is arguably the most handy, as it were, and can create quick scans with minimal disturbance to a document or object. But the also create the lowest quality images, being subject to use by unsteady hands and often with smaller scan coverage areas. These devices are great for obtaining information quickly, however, and can serve people in many walks of life.

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Last updated on June 01, 2018 by Ezra Glenn

Ezra is a writer, photographer, creative producer, designer, and record label-operator from New York City. He's traveled around the world and ended up back where he started, though he's constantly threatening to leave again.

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