Portable Scanners

Portable ScannersJanuary 2018(Last Updated 16 January 2018)

The best portable scanners, small-scale and good for digizing documents on the go
Compare top brands including Epson, Kodak and Brother
Every week we rank the best scanners based on features, reviews and price
We compare: 373 Scanner Models 5,790 Scanner Reviews 7,260 Scanner Prices
We compare:
373 Scanner Models
5,790 Scanner Reviews
7,260 Scanner Prices
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Epson Perfection V39
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

QWhat is an automatic document feeder (ADF)?
AAn automatic document feeder allows you to 'queue' up multiple documents to scan - the device will work though each document one after another, scanning it and moving to the next.
QWhat is duplex scanning?
ADuplex scanning allows the device to automatically scan both sides of a document at once, meaning you don't have to separately scan the other side of the page.
QWhat are the pros/cons between an ADF, flatbed and handheld scanners?
AADF scanners allow for quickly scanning large amounts of material, and are usually the cheaper option. Flatbed scanners are slower, but tend to have a higher resolution, and are better for photos and graphics. Lastly handheld scanners are less powerful than their brothers, but are far less bulky, so can be used on the go.
QWhat is a mouse scanner?
AMice scanners are a subset of handheld scanners - they are fully functional mice, but also have a small document scanner built into the bottom of it. While the scanning quality isn't amazing, they are helpful for quick scanning of pure text.

Portable Scanner Buying Guide

Scanners are devices used for digitising physical material such as documents and photos, and turning them into digital images for archiving, sharing and editing. They are extremely helpful peripherals, since they allow you to easily digitise large amounts of paper very quickly, meaning less clutter and mess on your desk! This guide will look at the major considerations when choosing a scanner, so you can find the device that is right for you.

There are several different types of home scanners available, though they can be largely placed into two main categories: flatbed or sheetfed. Here we will concentrate on portable sheetfed models:

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Portable Scanners

These smaller scanners function much like standard scanners, but with a focus on portability. They can come in several different versions - at their most simplest, they are small sheetfed scanners that unfold and scan a single sheet at a time. Some are battery powered, but most will have to have an external power connection to properly work. While they lack in ultra-high detail scanning quality, their small size, light weight and portability makes them helpful for business travellers, or workers who don't have much space, and want a simple device they can pack up and store in a drawer.

Mouse Scanners

A subset of portable scanners are mouse scanners. These are strange hybrids of mouse and optical scanner - they work as standard computer mice, but the laser that tracks the mouse position can double as a low-res scanning unit. This allows you to drag the mouse over a document, and digitize it that way. While they have fairly uninspiring quality, they are extremely portable and very convenient if you just want quick and dirty scans.

Automatic Document Feeder

An additional extra mostly commonly found in sheetfed scanners is an automatic document feed (ADF). This is a system that allows you to place a stack of paper into the scanner, and the scanner will automatically feed in the documents, scan them, then eject them from the machine. This is extremely helpful for anyone needing to digitise a lot of documents at once, since you can queue 50 pieces of paper at once, and the scanner will take care of the rest. Not all scanners have this system, but it is worth seeking out if you routinely find yourself bulk-scanning documents.

Resolution & Scan Speed

As mentioned above, not all scanners scan at the same quality. The scanning resolution is measured in dots per inch - the higher the dpi, the better the quality of the scan. Very high resolutions also allow you to expand small photos into larger prints - something that is not possible with low-resolution scanners. High resolution is also important for retaining fidelity when scanning photos. As a rule 300dpi is perfectly fine for black & white text, but won’t suffice for photos - you will need something with at least 1,200dpi or higher.

It’s also important to consider the scanning speed of the peripheral. Different models of scanners can have extremely varying scan speeds - with some taking twice as much time to scan a page as others. The scanners on our site are measured in the amount of pages they can scan per second, split out into colour, black & white, photo, etc. While the speed may not make a difference if you only scan a single document every once in a while, if you routinely scan large amounts of paper, this can add up to a substantial time saving.

There can be a large difference in size between models of scanner - this is important not only for desk and storage space, but also because it affects what documents can be scanned. All of our scanners can handle A4 size paper and smaller, however it requires a specialist scanner to effectively digitise anything bigger than A4. For many people, this won’t be necessary - an A4 scanner will handle nearly all bills and important documents, and most photos.

Extras

Finally, there is a host of other considerations when choosing a scanner. These can include:

OCR Scanning: Some scanners come with software to perform Optical Character Recognition on scanned documents. This analyses the scanned image and picks out letters and words, turning the image into a readable and editable document. This is very important for anyone wanting to edit documents once they’ve been scanned, rather than just archiving them.

Film Scanning: Some advanced scanners contain the ability to directly scan film negatives and digitise them. While not a mainstream use by any means, it is a very helpful feature for digitising old camera film to keep the images safe.

Network Support: Most scanners connect directly to your computer via USB. However some have wifi, ethernet or bluetooth support, allowing them to be used wirelessly. This means that the document can be scanned from anywhere, and will be sent directly to your computer. This is helpful for offices, since the scanner can be in a central location, rather than being passed around from computer to computer.

Cloud Support: Related to the above - some newer network-enabled scanners have the ability to upload the scanned images directly to the Cloud, meaning they can be immediately be accessed by any computer, making it very easy to backup and share images all over the world.