What is the best portable scanner? This device can be powered by USB or batteries. The former is a more cost-efficient option as you will not have to spend extra money on batteries. However, the USB-powered model requires connecting to a laptop or computer, so you will need to have one of them at hand. Accuracy is another essential aspect to consider because it determines the quality of a scanned image or document.

The minimum requirement for scanning accuracy is 300 dpi, but we recommend you to buy a device that has 600 dpi to make sure you will get all the details. That said, scanning at more than 600 dpi isn’t just unnecessary but will also result in heavier files which you will have to store somewhere. And finally, a good portable scanner should have a number of extra features that enhance its performance and make the whole process more convenient.

The advantage of using such device is that you can easily take it with you, given that some models can even fit in a pocket. These are handheld portable scanners that have limited resolution, which is why they are used for scanning documents, not photos. But if you pursue a vigorous business life, a card scanner will come in handy for you. And of course, there are models that operate like a sheetfed scanner but are smaller in size.

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Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i: photo

Using this model, you will be able to reproduce quality images since it can scan at up to 600 dpi. The device is also great for document scanning as it comes with a ten-page auto feeder. It works fast, producing up to twelve double-sided pages per minute. The scanner has several beneficial features, such as automatic color detection and rotation, and can handle thick paper including business cards.

You may choose a more affordable portable scanner, Epson WorkForce DS-40, which is 3 times more lightweight than the model by Fujitsu. Its output resolution reaches 1,200 dpi, but still, you will sacrifice some features of more advanced models.

Fujitsu: Check the current price

What Size And Type Of Materials Can Portable Scanners Scan?

Many people have to travel for work, meaning they may need to have at hand not just a phone and laptop but also a scanner. You never know what kind of document you will need to scan, but the good news is that portable scanners generally can process both documents and images, whether it is a contract, sales brochure or paper presentations. But it isn’t that simple.

PenPower Business Card Scanner: photo

When it comes to documents, portable scanners have length limits. While most models are capable of handling A4 document — except for pocket-sized scanners, like PenPower Business Card Scanner, designed specifically for scanning credit cards — they are not big enough for A3 or A2 papers. Well, I would not call it a downside because if they were, they would not be portable, which is their primary mission. Still, you may get creative and try to slide in a large-size paper horizontally, for example.

Portable scanners can handle images as well, however, the question is whether they can output high-quality images. This depends on image resolution, which varies from a model to model but basically, portable scanners featuring 600 dpi resolution do their job well. There are high-end models that will allow you to get an image with 1200 dpi resolution, but you should decide for yourself whether you really need such a benefit. First, this will cost you extra money and secondly, the scanned image will be heavier and take up more storage space.

What Software Can Be Used With Portable Scanners?

This depends on each specific model. As a rule, quality portable scanners come with a software bundle allowing you to manage, edit and share scanned documents and images. Regular scanners come with TWAIN, with the latter being more typical for high-speed scanners. However, portable scanners can be a little bit different.

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Portable Scanner: photo

For example, the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Portable Scanner isn’t TWAIN-compliant. As the manufacturer explains, ScanSnap would not be an easy one-touch scanner if it used a TWAIN driver. The thing is that TWAIN gives the user a lot of control over the way the communication between software and hardware takes place. This portable scanner, on the contrary, is made for consumers who do not want to go into details, such as color and quality options. The idea is clear: a truly portable scanner is the one that is simple, fast, and easy to use.

Do Portable Scanners Have Two-Sided Scanning Capability?

Let me start by explaining what actually makes these devices portable. A power supply. There are two options for portable scanners: they can be powered either through the USB cable or from batteries. The battery-run models typically cannot scan double-sided documents in one pass. As for USB-powered models, their dependence on other devices makes them, in a way, less portable. You have to carry a computer or laptop with you, otherwise, the scanner just will not operate. While having this obvious disadvantage, many USB-powered portable models have many features that regular scanners have, including two-sided scanning capabilities.

Xerox Duplex Travel Scanner: photo

A good example of that is Xerox Duplex Travel Scanner that has to be connected via USB 2.0 port to work. Measuring about 11 inches in length, this device is easy to carry in a bag. It also weighs a little bit more than one pound, meaning that the product is designed for those who have to travel a lot. But do not forget that you will have to carry a laptop with you if you want to use the scanner, something that will make your bag much heavier. Still, you may want to sacrifice convenience for the possibility to have a full-fledged duplex portable scanner. This means that two pages can be fed at the same time while a multipage document can be processed and saved as one document.

What Types Of Portable Scanners Are There?

Portable scanners differ in the way they process documents. But in general, this is about convenience and how portable they are. Now, let’s take a closer look at the three main types of these devices.

Portable scanners with an automatic document feeder

An automatic feeder allows a unit to scan a number of documents. All you need to do is to insert the papers you want to scan into the unit and they will be automatically fed through it. There is no need to manually place each page into the scanner. Such models are the largest of all portable scanners but, unlike flatbed ones, do not take up much space.

Canon P-215II Mobile Document Scanner: photo

These machines may include a tray intended to hold several sheets of paper at once so that they could be automatically fed through the scanner. You may stack multiple documents into the tray and the scanner will process all of them. The downside to this option in comparison with regular flatbed scanners lies in that it requires sheets of paper to be separate. Also, paper jams may occur from time to time. Such machines are typically powered through a USB port and need to be connected to a computer. One of the examples is the Canon P-215II Mobile Document Scanner that is equipped with a 20-sheet automatic feeder.

Manual-feed portable scanners

IRIScan Anywhere 5 Portable Scanner: photo

And yet, most portable scanners lack an automatic document feeder, which makes them even more compact and lightweight. These are single-sheet machines that can be used to scan documents and images as well. As for their speed, it’s hard to assess how fast they process documents because much depends on the speed at which you feed each page to the machine. But in general, a high-quality manual-feed portable scanner like IRIScan Anywhere 5 can process about 7 pages per minute, whether it is PDF or Jpeg format.

The advantage of this model is that it can operate without a computer as it is a battery-powered device. The machine can scan up to 100 A4 sheets on a single charge, with a maximum resolution of 1200 dpi. Still, I would not recommend this option to those who often have to scan multiple pages at a time.

Handheld portable scanners

What separates handheld models from other types of portable scanners is that they need to be moved or rolled over a document or image. The main downside to this option lies in the fact that much depends on how steady your hand is. In case it is not, you may get a little bit blurry image. That said, handheld portable scanners have numerous advantages: they are truly portable, more affordable, run on batteries and usually do not require a USB port to operate. They are easy to use, just place the page on a flat surface and put the scanner at the top of it. Then, slowly move the unit down. The processed documents and images will be saved to a memory card.

Scanmarker Air Pen Scanner: photo Vupoint ST470 Magic Wand Portable Scanner: photo

Handheld portable scanners can be divided into two subtypes: wand scanners and pocket-sized ones. Their main distinction lies in the size and, of course, the quality of images they output. Pocket-sized options, such as Scanmarker Air Pen Scanner, can be as little as 5 inches in length. This very model is recommended for scanning editable texts rather than images, so the usage of this model is quite limited.

Another option, Vupoint ST470 Magic Wand Portable Scanner, is more versatile and functions in two ways — you can drag it across the page or use its auto-feed feature.

10 Best-Selling Portable Scanners Comparative Table