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How Do I Choose the Best Portable Scanner?

G. Wiesen
G. Wiesen

To choose the best portable scanner, you should consider what type of scanner would work best for you and any additional hardware or software you may want with it. There are generally two types of portable scanners: handheld wand scanners and small desktop scanners. Wand scanners are held in a user’s hand and physically moved over a photograph or document, scanning the source into a digital file. A desktop portable scanner is usually about the same size as a wand scanner, both much smaller than a flatbed scanner, but sits on a desktop and a document is fed into the device for scanning.

If you are looking for a portable scanner, you should consider what you are going to use it for and how you want to scan documents. Both a wand scanner and a desktop scanner are easily transportable, about the same size, and can connect to just about any computer. You might look at the software that comes with any scanner you are considering, especially if you need a program that can help you edit images you scan. The portable scanner you choose should also be able to generate images of a high enough resolution for your needs.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

One of the most common types of portable scanner is a wand scanner. This is basically a handheld scanning device, with a scanning emitter that is open along one side of the device. To use a wand scanner, you hold the scanner in one hand and physically move it up or down a document, scanning it into a digital file as you go. While this can make this type of scanner quite effective for scanning in any environment, the scanned image can be askew or blurry depending on how steadily you hold the portable scanner while scanning.

The other common form of portable scanner is a desktop scanner that is small enough to be easily transported. These scanners are about the same size as a wand scanner, but you place it on a desk or other stable surface during use. The desktop scanner has a slot into which you feed a document, somewhat similar to the document feeder on a paper shredder. As the document passes through the portable scanner, a digital file is created from the scan. This type of scanner usually creates a more stable scan than wand scanners, but requires a desk or other area to place it during use.

You should also consider how you want the scanner to store or transfer scanned documents to a computer. Some scanners can simply connect to a computer and scanned images are immediately sent to that computer. Other scanners include storage within the scanner, allowing you to temporarily store scanned files on the scanner itself and then later transfer it onto a computer.

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Discussion Comments


What is the best way to transport a wand scanner? I need to carry one around and I don't have a case for it.

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