Small Office, Home Office Solutions

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Personal Mobile Scanners Help Tame the Paper Beast

By David Barbosa

Despite all of the advances in computer technology, email, instant messaging and social nets, businesses are still driven by paper. Exchanging business cards is still a time-honored tradition and necessity at trade shows, business meetings and so on; receipts will always take up space in spare envelopes, pockets and wallets; and there is nothing like the feel of a manila folder crammed with client proposals and project pitches.

The trouble is this trickle of paper quickly transforms into a daunting flow and keeping track of all this paper flotsam can be a challenge for any size business. Small office/home office workers face an even greater hurdle since there is usually little space to store all of these paper documents. The real problem, though, are the lost opportunities that come from lost business cards or having too many disorganized pieces of paper and manila folders.

Scanners can provide a solution, since they can be used to transform paper documents into digital images that can easily be stored and recalled. Most multi-function printers include built-in scanners, so there is no need to worry about cramped office space when considering this technology alternative.

To be really effective, however, you need to scan documents on the sport and eliminate excess paper at the root. This is where personal scanners can fill a definite need for the mobile professional and SOHO user. Most are lightweight, are powered by a USB connection to your computer, can accommodate most standard document sizes – including business cards – and in some cases, scan photos as well. Key features to look at in selecting the right device for your needs include the size, weight, scanning speed and available software (which ranges from image enhancing applications to programs that automatically categorize and organize your scanned material).

The following is a quick list of some of the latest personal and mobile scanners that are designed to be used on the road and in the office.

Personal Mobile Scanner Roundup

Brother DSmobile 600 
Everyone knows Brother makes some pretty neat printers, but they may not be so familiar with the company’s line of personal scanners. The DSmobile 600 is the lightweight of the line, offering mobile professionals and anyone who travels the ability to quickly scan and save images of documents like invoices, statements, letters, or pictures in Adobe Acrobat, JPG or TIFF file formats. Like others in this category it is powered by a USB connection to a host computer and scans at 600 dots/ inch.

The DSmobile 600 measures 1.5\” x 11\” and weighs in at roughly 12 ounces. It can scan all types of media, ranging from business card size documents and slips of paper to 8.5\” x 14\” letter- and legal-size pieces of paper. The product package includes the DSmobile 600 Scanner, a protective carrying bag, CD-ROM with software and drivers (DSmobileSCAN II, PageManager® Version 7, TWAIN & WIA drivers), two photo sleeves (fro scanning pictures)), calibration sheets, and a cleaning sheet.
Price: About $150

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100
The ScanSnap S1100 weighs in at 12.13 ounces and is designed to handle a wide range of documents and paper, from business cards and plastic cards to receipts and full documents. It incorporates single-sheet scanning technology and supports color scanning with Continuous Document Feeding (CDF). It has an optical resolution of 600 dots/inch and a wealth of software that lets you easily create copies, scan to Word and Excel files, and even zap your scanned documents to the cloud (Google Docs, etc). The small device even comes with organization software that keeps your documents neatly filed and business cards at your fingertips through most address and email applications.
Price: About $190

Xerox Mobile Travel Scanner 100
The Mobile Travel Scanner 100 is a real lightweight (around 10.5 ounces), offering some heavyweight features when it comes to feeding your scanning needs while on the go. The device offers an optical resolution of 600 dots/ inch and scanning speeds of 6 pages/ min in B&W and 4 pages/min in color. It incorporates technology developed by mobile scanning pioneer Visioneer, as well as visual recognition software that can easily make sense of fancy business card lettering and convert documents into readily-accessible pdfs.

The technology also features auto-straightening, auto-cropping and auto-brightness, so it’s very forgiving when you scan business cards and other on-the-road flotsam and jetsam. It is also powered by a USB connection, so no power cord and converter to worry about leaving behind.
Price: About $190

NeatReceipts Mobile Scanner
The NeatReceipts Mobile Scanner is described as a \’digital filing system’, although this may be stretching the term a bit. Yes, it is capable of scanning all sorts of documents, business cards, and yes, receipts. But, like the other products noted in this report, it is basically a USB-powered input device that provides a 600 dots/inch scanning resolution and is incredibly light and portable (10.6 ounces).

The ‘digital system’ part of the equation comes in the form of the software that comes with the device. This includes text recognition software that can identify and capture specific information on a document (like date, vendor, amount and sales tax on a receipt), as well as software that lets you do keyword searches on any information that is scanned into your host Mac or PC. Images can be saved in JPEG, PDF and other well-known formats, and the data inserted into xls, Word, Outlook and other files. It scans at a rate of 3-4 receipts per minute, says the company, and it can handle documents up to 30-inches in length.
Price: About $200

Ambir Technology TravelScan Pro
The TravelScan Pro document and ID scanner is also USB-powered and like others in this genre has an extremely small footprint. It can be used to scan a wide variety of media such as business and insurance cards, checks, ID cards, licenses and so on – all at a resolution of 600 dots/ inch.

The TWAIN compatible TravelScan Pro comes with AmbirScan, Ambir’s powerful imaging software. AmbirScan features support for PDF, JPEG, and TIFF extensions. Fixed file locations let you set a default save location for your scans. It can accommodate media sizes from 2” x 3” business cards to 8.5” x 14” documents, and has an enhanced TWAIN driver that can improve image quality and convert directly to a pdf, if necessary. It supports a range of color scales, including 24-bit true color, and offers a scan speed of 11 seconds per page in B&W – relatively slow when compared to some of the other models included in this roundup, but that may be the price you have to pay for better image contrast.
Price: About $150

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