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Best Portable Scanners 2020 – Buyer’s Guide

If you usually find yourself having to scan documents when you're traveling, then a reliable portable document scanner can be a great asset for you.

They're compact and lightweight, making them easy to move around. Some are even equipped with a rechargeable battery.

We've reviewed some of the best portable scanners to help you pick the one that suits your needs.

Comparison Table

Scanner

​ADF

Flatbed

Maximum Scan Area

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100

No

No

8.5” x 14”

Doxie Q

Yes

No

Legal

Brother DS-620

No

No

Legal

​Brother ADS-1250W

Yes

No

2.5” x 34”

​Epson Workforce ES-50

Yes

No

Legal

Flip-Pal

No

Yes

4" x 6"

The 6 Best Portable Scanners in 2020

1. Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100

The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 is a single sheet, manual-feed device that's used to scan your documents on the go. It's suitable for small one or two-page scans.

the iX100 can scan a full-size page in just 5.2 seconds, or around 11 pages per minute.

However, just like any other manual-feed scanner, productivity depends on how quickly you feed it, and the efficiency of the software that the papers are scanned off to.

While it's true that many scanners these days come with the software you need to scan to image and PDF formats, in addition to document management, few of them come with so many utilities required to do tasks.

The ScanSnap iX100 comes with these utilities. The bundle includes ScanSnap Cloud, CardMinder, ScanSnap Organizer, and ScanSnap Receipt. 

That's not everything; you also get software that allows you to scan two small documents at once side by side. Moreover, you can scan and stitch big pages back together.

Another useful feature with the ScanSnap iX100 is the included internal batteries. Fujitsu claims that you can scan up to 260 documents on a single charge. You can use the scanner for days without worrying about having to plug it in.

You can charge the battery and scan your documents via USB, in addition to Wi-Fi.

Unfortunately, the ScanSnap iX100 doesn't come with two image sensors that would've made it possible for you to scan double-sided pages simultaneously (duplexing).

What We Like

  • Accurate OCR
  • Fast scanning
  • A highly versatile software bundle
  • Many connectivity options, including mobile
  • Reasonable price

What We Don't Like

  • No single-pass auto-duplexing
  • No Automatic Document Feeder (ADF)

The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 is a fast and highly functional manual feed document scanner designed for doing quick scans on the go.

2. Doxie Q

Doxie Q

Unlike other portable scanners, the Doxie Q doesn't need to be connected to a PC to operate.

It features an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), so you can conveniently scan multi-page documents without having to feed each paper manually. 

Moreover, the input tray can accommodate up to 8 pages at once, which isn't a significant number compared to other scanners.

Unfortunately, the Doxie Q doesn't support two-sided pages scanning in a single pass(duplexing); only single-sided scanning is only available.

The ORC is quite accurate, so you don't have to worry about constantly checking the scans for errors. The Doxie Q can produce documents in both JPEG and PDF formats. 

You can choose between the two formats using the scanner's control panel that you can find next to a small monochromic display. 

You also get a dedicated button for controlling the resolution. The scanner's maximum resolution is 600 pixels. 

Setting up the Doxie Q is quite easy. Keep in mind that without the software, you can't do much with the scanner. 

There's a sticker on the top of the device that directs you to the support site so you can download the required software. It also gives you a step by step guide for the installation process.

The software isn't that functional compared to other devices on the market. It only offers one program, called "Doxie".

The Doxie Q also features a rechargeable battery so you can conveniently scan on the go without having to connect the device with a cable.

What We Like

  • No PC required to use the device
  • Great OCR performance
  • Connects to iOS mobile devices, PCs, and Macs using Wi-Fi
  • 8-page Automatic Document Feeder
  • Rechargeable battery
  • Comes with a USB cable, MiniSD card, and cleaning kit in the box

What We Don't Like

  • Can't scan directly to a PC
  • Software is a bit outdated
  • Converting and saving scans to image or PDF takes a while

If you need to perform quick scans, the Doxie Q is a highly portable scanner with reliable accuracy, and it doesn't need a PC to scan. Though the software isn't that impressive.

3. Brother DS-620 

Brother DS-620

The Brother DSmobile 620 is an inexpensive, basic scanner. 

While it lacks an Automatic Document Feeder, and the ability to scan two-sided pages at once (duplexing), it still packs an impressive array of features that make it a reliable scanner.

At only 14 ounces, The DS-620 is pretty lightweight. Moreover, it measures 1.4 x 11.4 x 2.1 (HWD), so it's quite compact too.

Setup is quite easy. You install the software and connect the scanner with a USB cable.

You also get a twain driver that allows you to scan from most Windows programs with a single command.

the software comes with a scan utility that lets you manage your documents. Additionally, the scanner features Optical Character Recognition (OCR), and the scanning is pretty accurate.

There's an optional program that allows you to manage expense receipts, but Brother charges extra for it.

The scan utilities make the DS-620 easy to deal with. Document management is excellent. 

You can organize your files pretty easily and send them to programs. You can scan in multiple formats, including JPG, PDF, and RTF.

The scanner takes 11 seconds to scan a single paper, which isn't that fast, but it's acceptable.

What We Like

  • Affordable price
  • Portable
  • Comes with a capable document management software with built-in Optical Character Recognition

What We Don't Like

  • Not suitable for scanning business cards

The Brother DSmobile 620 scanner is ideal for light-duty scanning on the go, or even at your home or office. Just don't expect high productivity since it's a manual feeder.

4. Brother ADS-1250W

Brother ADS-1250W

The Brother ADS-1250W features an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), allowing you to scan a big pile of documents conveniently.

Moreover, Brother's software provides you with highly functional controls and allows you to adjust the vital settings easily. 

The ADS-1250W's Wi-Fi connection is reliable, and it's compatible with third-party scanning apps like Windows Scan and Apple's Image Capture. OCR is excellent and can scan pretty quickly.

Even though this scanner lacks a battery, which is something you can find in many other portable scanners in this category, you can connect it via USB at the expense of slower scan speed. 

Setup is easy and straightforward, no matter the operating system you're using. The scanner comes with a CD that contains the installation files. 

In case your computer doesn't have an optical disc drive, you can download the software from Brother's support site

The ADS-1250W takes as little as 48 seconds to scan 20 single-sided test pages using USB, translating to a rate of 25 pages/minute. Over Wi-Fi, the same number of documents can be scanned in 52 seconds, at a rate of 23 pages/minute.

At 11.8 x 4.1 x 3.3, and 3 lbs, the ADS-1250W is somewhat bulky and heavy compared to other portable scanners.

The ADS-1250W provides you with highly accurate OCR results that you can export as either TXT or RTF files. 

Unfortunately, you can't export your documents in Docx format, a feature you can find on many other scanners.

What We Like

  • Fast and accurate scanning
  • Can scan to USB drives
  • Comes with document and contact management software
  • Automatic Document Feeder
  • Highly versatile iPrint&Scan app

What We Don't Like

  • Doesn't come with a battery
  • Scattered control panel
  • Limited web connectivity

Although it lacks a battery, the Brother ADS-1250W is a quick and reliable wireless scanner for scanning on the go. Just make sure you have at least a USB port nearby so you can operate it.

5. Epson Workforce ES-50 

Epson Workforce ES-50

The ES-50 may not be the most feature-rich scanner, but it makes up for that by being extremely lightweight. At only 0.6 lbs, you can easily hold the device with one hand.

The ES-50 covers the essentials, only offering you the basic features you need to scan your documents on the go. 

It can scan documents up to 8.5" x 72", in addition to ID cards and receipts.

Moreover, it comes with an Automatic Document Feeder, allowing you to scan many pages at once without having to feed every single page you need to scan manually.

However, It doesn't have a built-in battery. It's limited to USB for connectivity, which is also its only power source option. 

There's no support for SD cards so you'll have to send the scanned document to one of your devices via USB or upload it somewhere.

Nevertheless, the price is quite attractive. If you don't need the extra features offered by other, more expensive portable scanners, the ES-50 would be an excellent option for you.

The included software is compatible with PC and Mac. It also allows you to scan directly to several cloud services. 

Additionally, you can create files in multiple formats, including searchable PDFs, Docx, and xlsx.

The scanner operates at pretty high speed, taking only 5.5 seconds for a single page.

What We Like

  • Small and compact
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to use
  • Accurate OCR
  • Affordable price
  • Automatic Document Feeder

What We Don't Like

  • No memory card support
  • No battery
  • USB is the only available connectivity option

The Epson WorkForce ES-50 is pretty fast and reliable handheld scanner, and it comes with an Automatic Document Feeder. Just don't expect more than that from it at this low price.

6. Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

This scanner features a flatbed design that allows you to scan your documents the same way you'd with full-sized scanners, so no feeders to deal with!

The Flip-Pal is quite portable, running on four AA batteries which means less frequent needs for cables around you. 

It's similar in size to a 10" tablet. You can easily carry it in your bag. At only 1.25 lbs, it's not considered heavy either.

You can either save to an SD card or a USB stick. You don't need a computer to use this device. All you have to do is make sure the battery is charged, and you're good to go.

The fact that it's super portable doesn't mean you need to sacrifice certain key features. You can still hook it up to a computer when you need to. 

Additionally, you can check the scanned document on a small LCD screen before saving it. If everything is good, the scanner will store the document for you. 

The Flip-Pal is quite affordable. However, since it's a flatbed scanner, there's no Automatic Document Feeder. You need to place each page on the flatbed manually. There's no duplexing either.

Nevertheless, you can stitch together multiple scans of large photos or documents.

What We Like

  • Comes with four batteries
  • LCD for previewing scanned documents
  • Doesn't need a PC for operation
  • Easy to use
  • SD card and USB support

What We Don't Like

  • No automatic document feeding
  • No duplexing

The Flip-Pal is the best portable flatbed scanner you can find if you prefer flatbed scanners over sheet-fed ones

Buyer's Guide

Here are a few things to keep in mind before buying a portable scanner.

Size and Weight

A portable scanner should be small and lightweight so you can easily move it around without feeling like you're carrying a massive rock on your back. 

Speed

Scanning speed is another factor to consider when choosing a scanner. 

While speed might not matter that much if you occasionally scan a document or two, it can be crucial to those who need to print many documents consecutively. 

Connectivity Options

Some scanners are limited to USB for connectivity, while other scanners also support Wi-Fi.

Wi-Fi can be quite handy on many occasions, looked when you're in a car.

Ease of Use

A portable scanner should be easy to use, so you don't waste your whole time scanning a few documents. Especially that portable scanners are designed for scanning urgent documents that must be scanned right away.

Versatility

A good portable scanner should be able to scan many types of documents, like ID cards and receipts.

It should also offer support for exporting documents in multiple formats.

What Is a Portable Scanner?

A portable scanner is simply a device that you can use to scan urgent documents when you're traveling. They're smaller and lighter than full-sized scanners. Some of them also include an internal battery.

Types of Portable Scanners

Portable document scanners are divided into single sheet devices that can only scan one page at a time, and multi-page scanners that come with an Automatic Document Feeder (ADF), allowing you to scan several pages on a single run.

If you usually need to scan many pages at once, then the latter would be a better option for you.

Portable scanners can also be categorized into handheld devices and larger devices that are still compact enough but need to be placed on a surface.

You can also differentiate between different portable scanners by their power supply. Some scanners require to be connected to either a power outlet or a USB port, while other scanners contain internal batteries that allow you to operate it wirelessly.

How Does a Portable Scanner Work?

A scanner transforms a hard copy of a document into a digital version of it that can be easily edited and sent over the web. 

A beam of light is directed onto the desired document, and it's recorded on a photosensitive element.

A portable scanner is simply a more compact version of regular, full-sized scanners with the same principle of operation. 

They're designed to be easily carried so you can scan your important documents without having to be at your home or your office.

Final Thoughts

Our pick as one of the best portable scanners is the Doxie Q. With multiple connectivity options, automatic feeding, built-in battery, and support for various formats, it's hard not to recommend this scanner.

You could also opt for the Epson ES-50 if you want a more affordable scanner that gets the job done. It's quite compact and lightweight too.

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