10 Best Portable Scanners of 2020 – Reviews and Buying Guide

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So, you've decided that you want to go digital, and now you're faced with a dizzying assortment of scanners to choose from. There are small scanners that can travel well, much larger ones for dedicated office use, and multifunction machines that can scan and print. Because of their small size and portability, we are focusing this review on finding the best portable scanner for your digitizing needs.

Best Portable Scanner Options Product FAQ

1. What Is a Portable Scanner?

A portable scanner is a small and lightweight scanner that you can take with you pretty much anywhere you go. Many run on batteries, and some are even rechargeable.

The best portable scanner will make searching archives and conducting research simple because you can quickly scan the pages you need and upload them to your computer, phone, or tablet.

 2. Who Should Use a Portable Scanner?

Anyone who may need to digitize a document, photo, or object while away from their home, office, or school should use a portable scanner.

Portable scanners are capable of scanning everything from basic documents to receipts, ID cards, and mementos. Some models can provide near studio quality resolution for scanning pictures and artwork on the go.

 People looking for a digital record of scrapbooks or old photo albums will appreciate the convenience of handheld portable scanners than can glide over material. Students will find scanning textbooks or research material from the library easy and convenient.

3. Can't I just Use my Smartphone?

Sure, you could do that. However, you would miss out on some of the great features that a dedicated scanner has that most apps don't. You may also sacrifice document or picture quality with a smartphone.

If you really like to use your smartphone, the best portable scanner for you would be one that can integrate with your phone's operating system. Look for one that is iOS and Mac compatible.

4. What Features Are Most Important?

This will depend largely on what you intend to use your scanner for. Some people will need the true portability of a wand-style scanner to capture delicate items or large books that can't be placed through a feeder.

To other people, an automatic document feeder with duplexing capability will be a must-have feature. In general, however, there are several features that the best portable scanner will have.

Size

Look for a lightweight model that you won't mind carrying around. The lightest scanner we reviewed was just over 5 ounces, while the heaviest was over two pounds.

Think about how much weight you really want to add to your bag and take that into consideration when looking for the best portable scanner for your needs.

Simplicity

Plug and scan capability makes it easy to use your scanner no matter where you are. Although not a must, it is nice to find a scanner without dedicated software.

Some scanners don't even need a computer to operate. Simply scan and save to memory or upload to a cloud location. If you are going without a computer, look for a model with a preview screen.

Flexibility

Finally, consider the flexibility of the scanner. Look for one that can scan in color and black and white and at multiple resolutions. Multiple file formats for saving can be helpful later on for editing and saving files.

How We Reviewed

The following products were reviewed based on their features, ease of use, pros and cons, warranty, and price. We considered feedback from customers and expert opinions carefully before choosing which items to test and give you our opinion on the best portable scanner available today.

Overall Price Range

There is a huge range of prices for portable scanners. The models we reviewed start at around $50 and go to almost $300. In general, the portable scanners that are designed for business applications tend to have the highest cost.

Features such as rechargeable batteries, scan quality, document feeders, and auto-duplexing impact the price.

What We Reviewed

  • Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Portable Color Duplex Document Scanner
  • Brother Mobile Color Page Scanner
  • Doxie Go SE
  • Epson Workforce ES-300W Wireless Color Portable Document Scanner
  • Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner With 4GB SD Card and USB Adapter
  • Canon ImageFORMULA P-215II Mobile Document Scanner
  • VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner
  • Doxie Q
  • FLAGPOWER 900DPI Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner
  • VuPoint Portable Magic Wand Scanner with Auto-Feed Docking Station

10 Best Portable Scanner Options

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i 


Features

This scanner is a powerhouse in a small and portable package. It has an automatic paper feed for up to 10 pages, plus auto-duplexing and direct to cloud scanning.

You can save documents as PDF files or editable Word or Excel files. Auto-correction software ensures pages are in the correct order and orientation.

Warranty

This scanner is covered by a 1-year warranty on covered parts. Users must call customer service to initiate a warranty claim.

Pros

  • Scans directly to cloud services
  • Automatic 10-page paper feed
  • Full color scanning
  • Small footprint
  • Auto-duplexing

Cons

  • Paper jams easily
  • Photos must be saved as jpeg files
  • Communication software has some minor bugs
  • Set up is on DVD

Brother Mobile Color Page Scanner


Features

You won't find fancy features with this machine. But, if you are looking for a simple and affordable scanning tool, this Brother model may be the best portable scanner for your needs.

It is incredibly lightweight, weighing under a pound, so you can take it anywhere you may need to digitize a document or project. Its portability is increased by the use of a USB power cord.

Warranty

This scanner is covered by Brother's 1-year limited warranty.This scanner is covered by a 1-year warranty on covered parts. Users must call customer service to initiate a warranty claim.

Pros

  • Incredibly small and lightweight
  • Automatic 10-page paper feed
  • Affordable portable scanner

Cons

  • Manual paper feed
  • No double-sided scanning
  • Software could use an update

Doxie Go SE


Features

A fully portable scanner that requires no computer to work. Simply charge its internal battery and the Doxie Go SE will scan up to 400 documents. Its internal memory will store up to 4,000 scans before needing to be expanded or have the files moved to another device.

Warranty

Your scanner is covered by a 1-year limited warranty.

Pros

  • Rechargeable battery
  • No computer required
  • All software is included
  • Expandable included memory

Cons

  • No duplex scanning
  • Single page feed
  • No way to preview scans in the field

Epson Workforce ES-300W Wireless Color Portable Document Scanner


Features

This is a full-featured scanner in a relatively small size. Although slightly larger than some of the other scanners we reviewed, the auto-duplexing, 20-page document feeder, and Wi-Fi connectivity make it a solid performer for people who need a mobile office.

It can run off of batteries or a USB or AC power cord for increased flexibility on the go.

Warranty

This printer comes with a 1-year manufacturer's warranty from the original date of purchase.

Pros

  • Wi-Fi enabled
  • Can run on batteries, AC or USB cord
  • 20-page automatic document feeder
  • 2-sided scanning
  • Capable of scanning ID cards

Cons

  • Somewhat larger than other portable models
  • Glitchy software
  • Wi-Fi connection can be hard to set up and maintain

Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner With 4GB SD Card and USB Adapter


Features

If you are going to be scanning lots of pictures, mementos, and odd-shaped items, then the Flip-Pal is worth a look. This small scanner works as a traditional flatbed model most of the time.

If you have something bulky or large, you can take the lid off, flip the unit over, and use it as a handheld scanner.

Warranty

This scanner comes with a 1-year factory warranty and a 30-day money back satisfaction guarantee.

Pros

  • Excellent for delicate pictures or mementos
  • Included SD card
  • Lid comes off to scan bulky items
  • Preview scans with LCD screen

Cons

  • No document feeder
  • Lacks Wi-Fi connectivity
  • Batteries are difficult to install

Canon imageFORMULA P-215II Mobile Document Scanner


Features

This scanner is designed largely for documents. It has a 20-page document feeder that will automatically detect whether pages are one or two-sided. We really liked the plug and scan feature so you can scan right out of the box without downloading software.

Warranty

Cannon backs this product with a 1-year manufacturer's warranty

Pros

  • Plug and scan technology
  • Scan directly to the cloud
  • 20-page document feeder

Cons

  • Document feeder often double feeds
  • Some issues with auto-duplex scanning blank pages
  • Struggles with heavy cardstock

VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner


Features

If you need a truly portable scanner that you can take to libraries, archives, and pretty much anywhere else, the VuPoint Magic Wand scanner may be the best portable scanner for you.

 It is incredibly affordable and runs on regular AA batteries. When you get home, simply plug it into your computer with the USB cord and view your scanned files.

Warranty

Cannon backs this product with a 1-year manufacturer's warranty

Pros

  • Amazingly portable
  • Runs on standard AA batteries
  • Scan pretty much any flat surface

Cons

  • Required SD card is not included
  • Large dead zone in margins
  • OCR software not compatible with Windows 10

Doxie Q


Features

The Q is Doxie's top of the line portable scanner. It has a rechargeable battery, built-in document feeder, and Wi-Fi connectivity. It is a bit heavier than many other portable scanner, so keep that in mind if you will have it on the go most of the time.

Warranty

The Doxie Q is covered by a manufacturer's warranty for one year from the original date of purchase.

Pros

  • Connect to your computer with Wi-Fi or a USB cable
  • Mac, PC, and iOS compatible
  • Rechargeable battery

Cons

  • No automatic duplexing
  • Wi-Fi can be difficult to set up
  • Heavier than many other models

FLAGPOWER 900DPI Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner


Features

Here is another wand-style portable scanner for those who need to scan books or other items that you can't put through a document feeder. You have three levels or resolution: 300dpi, 600dpi, and 900dpi.

This allows you to accommodate a wide range of projects. We like the plug and scan convenience along with the included batteries and SD card.

Warranty

This scanner comes with a 1-year warranty and lifetime technical support.

Pros

  • Batteries and SD card included
  • Up to 900dpi resolution
  • Weighs less than 6 ounces
  • Plug and scan convenience

Cons

  • Scanner is sensitive to wrinkles or imperfections on documents
  • Wi-Fi can be difficult to set up

VuPoint Portable Magic Wand Scanner With Auto-Feed Docking Station


Features

If you like the portability of a wand scanner but want a more stationary unit when you are at home or in the office, this is a good compromise.

The standard Magic Wand handheld scanner comes with a docking station that converts it to a still-potable desktop scanner with an automatic document feeder.

Warranty

This is covered by a 1-year warranty from the manufacturer.

Pros

  • LCD screen to preview scans
  • Up to 1200 dpi resolution when docked
  • Micro SD card is included

Cons

  • Unpredictable color saturation
  • Docking station does not run on batteries
  • Streaking photo scans

The Verdict: Best Portable Scanner Options

We reviewed these ten popular portable scanners to decide which one is the best. While they are all good scanners with a lot of positive customer feedback, we picked the best portable scanner each for business and home use.

The best portable scanner for business use is the Epson Workforce ES-300W Wireless Color Portable Document Scanner.

It features a 20-page document feeder and automatic duplexing for convenience. You can power it with batteries or either a USB or AC plug. It is Wi-Fi enabled for quickly saving scanned files to cloud locations.

For those of you looking for a little more flexibility and a truly portable scanner, the FLAGPOWER 900DPI Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner is our top pick.

This is a great choice for students and people conducting genealogy research as it can scan books and other large items by passing the wand over them. We like its multiple scan resolution options, and the included batteries and SD card.

Featured Image via Flickr

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