Product Review: DocuPen Colour Portable Scanner

31 Jul 2007

Although most documents pass through a business each day via email there is still a heap of signed sheets, order forms, articles and so on that requires scanning.

This leaves the salesperson, engineer on site, mobile businessperson et al trudging back to the office-based scanner with a pile of pages to scan in on a daily basis.

The guys in Cantec, Carlow have a nifty little device to bypass this: a handheld colour scanner (pictured) that resembles a slightly larger than average pen.

It comes with an installation CD and USB connection for transferring data on to your computer. Installation of the driver programme for reading DocuPen data and one for displaying it as a TIF image file is straightforward.

Before use, hook up your DocuPen via USB and charge it fully for about four hours.

There are two buttons to control the pen: the one on the right switches it on and toggles between high and low resolution settings. The left button toggles between black and white, 12-bit colour and 24 bit.

I did what I usually do: begin to use the device without as much as a glance at the instruction manual.

After moving the pen carefully down the page I noticed that the glowing red light on the far side (which indicates scanning in progress) had in fact stopped when I was half way down the page.

When I connected the DocuPen to my computer and opened the Scanner Control software, it rendered a tiny section of the page, which looked slightly smudged at that.

It turned out that I didn’t use it properly. It was much faster than I expected and I was moving the pen at a snail’s pace down the page.

An icon lights up to let you know if you’re moving the pen too fast, but an A4 page takes only about five seconds to be scanned in. Then the battery indicator flashes once to let you know that it has been saved.

Admittedly, I was impressed with the quality of a magazine picture.

I had it set to 24-bit colour, high resolution and it looked quite good, but the higher the resolution and colour setting you use, the more memory eaten up on a single image. However, there is a slot for extra memory.

Obviously, keeping scanned in pictures in the default TIFF format is perfectly fine but pages of text may be needed for editing in a Word or PDF file, which can be done using the included PaperPort software.

Some of the text didn’t convert completely, but it seems to be down to scanning technique. Holding the pen lightly and completely horizontal and moving it quickly but evenly will produce the best results, but it does take a bit of practice.

Pros: Good quality scanning on the go
Cons: Made from cheap, easily damaged material

By Marie Boran