I spend two-thirds of the year on the road. That means my tools need to be as portable and reliable as I’m expected to be. As a writer and photographer, a portable scanner is a must-carry in my bag of tricks. I’ve spent years hauling scanners around the world. After three years of continual use, my favorite is the Doxie Go SE Wi-Fi. This slender unit doesn’t need a computer, syncs over Wi-Fi anywhere my day takes me and can scan up to 400 pages per battery charge. If you’re in the market for a new portable scanner, you can’t go wrong with any of these models.
Best Overall: Doxie Go SE Wi-Fi
Imagine carrying a scanner in your bag that is as small as a rolled-up magazine. That’s what you get when you invest in the Doxie Go SE Wi-Fi. This sleek portable scanner is the perfect solution for those who need a color scanner that takes up minimal desk space and is travel-friendly.
You won’t be tied down to power cords with the Doxie Go. Thanks to a rechargeable battery and Wi-Fi, you’re never tethered to anything. You can scan up to 400 pages per battery charge. Full-color pages scan cleanly in less than 8 seconds, and up to 600 dpi. Better still, you can scan and sync documents without the need for a computer. All the magic happens over Wi-Fi, with documents syncing to your iPhone or iPad, or in cloud services like Dropbox, Evernote, OneNote, and iCloud.
The included software for Mac and PC makes easy work of syncing scans to your desktop, organizing documents, creating searchable PDFs, and managing your workflow. The Doxie Go is excellent for scanning documents, receipts, business cards, drawings, photos, and more. If there’s a downside, it’s that this device cannot scan the front and back of documents automatically. You must feed your paper in, scan, then flip the paper over to capture both sides. If you don’t mind the minor inconvenience, the Doxie is a genius way to go paper-free.
- Scans up to 400 pages per battery charge
- No need for a computer
- SD card included
- No duplex scanning
Doxie Go SE Wi-Fi
No computer needed
The sleek Doxie scans anything you throw at it and syncs to your iDevice or cloud account, and all without a computer.
Best Value: VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand
If you’re looking to save a few bucks, the VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand is a solid choice. You can drag the tiny wand across a flat page or photo to scan, or attach the wand to the included dock and feed images or documents through the scanner. The docking station also doubles as a charging port for the battery. This is a high-resolution model, outputting images at up to an admirable 1,200 dpi. Files are saved on a microSD/microSDHC 32GB card (not included).
As for downsides, there are two. First, this portable scanner does not have Wi-Fi built-in, which seems downright silly in this day and age. To get photos off the microSD, you’ll need to fire up your computer. Second, the white balance needs calibration when working with color photos. Color saturation is a mess, especially with darkly lit photos, forcing you to bump up the white balance to get a useable image. This takes mere seconds to do, but it’s worth noting.
This speedy little portable scanner imports photo images in less than six seconds. Nice! I love the wand, which allows me to scan photos or documents on a desk, end table, or another flat surface, and the color LCD preview screen gets a thumbs up! If you’re looking for a basic portable scanner that delivers on value, this one’s for you!
- Scans up to 1,200 dpi
- Scan preview viewable on color LCD
- Great battery life
- No Wi-Fi
- No duplex scanning
- White balance needs to be calibrated
VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand
A magical wand
This small unit scans up to 1,200 dpi by wand or dock and features scan previews on a 1.5″ color LCD.
Best Duplex Scanner: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i
The best duplex scanner I’ve found is this model from Fujitsu. You can up to a dozen double-sided color documents in under a minute. Built-in intelligent scan correction software does automatic quality control for you, adjusting colors, removing blank pages, and even auto-rotating upside down sheets. Brilliant! The 10-page automatic document feeder works well when scanning anything from receipts to business cards to extra long pages.
The weight is a downside for the scanner. This model weighs in at twice that of other portable scanners. Luckily, it can be powered by dual USB.
That out of the way, the Fujitsu does an outstanding job of accurately and quickly scanning documents and creating searchable PDFs. The included software is robust yet easy to learn. Files can be scanned to searchable PDFs or editable Word and Excel files and placed directly in the cloud so you can access them from anywhere.
- Double-sided scanning
- Auto color correction
Best Duplex Scanner
Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i
Scan both sides of the page and more
This is a speedy tool that scans double-sided documents, auto-corrects for you, and is small enough to store in a drawer.
Best Do Everything: Brother Mobile DS-720D
Weighing under one pound and just a smidge longer than a piece of paper, this portable scanner from Brother is a lightweight do-it-all dynamo. This cool tool scans eight single-sided pages per minute and five double-sided pages per minute, so it’s no slouch in the speed department. The Brother scanner handles photos, documents, receipts, and long sheets, and can create searchable PDF files.
My only beefs here are the lack of Wi-Fi and this scanner’s inability to scan directly to an SD card. You’ll need a desktop or laptop to use this one as most settings and features are available only via software. That said, Brother’s scanning software is a joy to use.
For those who need a scanner that can handle color and black and white photos as well as receipts and double-sided documents, you’ll be happy with the Brother portable scanner. This is a powerful scanner that comes in a tiny package.
- Windows, Mac, and Linux-compatible
- Duplex scanner
- Small and lightweight
- Lacks Wi-Fi
- Does not support scanning to SD card
Best Do Everything
Brother Mobile DS-720D
Big on features, small on size
A lightweight, versatile scanner than does photos, receipts, artwork, and double-sided documents.
Best for Mobile Offices: Epson Workforce ES-60W
Taking work on the road is easier with the trouble-free Epson Workforce. This portable scanner is one of the smallest and lightest on our list of favorites. Weighing in at just over half a pound, the tiny WorkForce is massive on features. This device creates searchable PDFs and editable Word and Excel files in addition to scanning single-sided documents, photos, receipts, business cards, and more.
On the downside, this portable scanner lacks a few non-crucial things like duplex scanning and memory card support. Also missing, and perhaps more important to most, is that there is no automatic document feeder. That means you must manually insert each page by hand as you go.
Back to the plus side, this outstanding scanner is geared toward professionals who don’t always work in the office. The included software supports uploading files directly to the cloud, a needed feature for travelers. Color reproduction is excellent, as is the speed. This model can scan a single page in four seconds. If you need a good all-around portable scanner, this bag-friendly unit should be part of your office gear.
- Space-saving design
- Micro USB rechargeable
- Good color accuracy
- No duplex scanning features
- No memory card support
- Manual document feeder
Best for Mobile Offices
Epson Workforce ES-60W
Portable office in your briefcase
The ultra-lightweight Epson is a workhorse with an LCD display and intuitive software that whips out a page in seconds.
Best for Creatives: Doxie Flip
The Doxie Flip is a one-of-a-kind tool that’s perfect for photographers, genealogists, collectors, artists, and other creatives. Billed as a cordless flatbed photo and notebook scanner, this unit can capture pictures, scrapbooks, letters, stamps, sketches, pocket notebook entries, and so much more. Included Doxie software keeps digital copies organized on your desktop or in the cloud.
I have two gripes with the Doxie Flip, though neither are show stoppers. First, the Flip takes four AAA batteries. If you spend a few hours scanning anything, be prepared to put in fresh batteries. Investing in rechargeable batteries is the best solution here. Next, this unit only outputs JPEGs. If you need to scan a document and save it as a PDF, you’re out of luck.
It’s worth noting that the Flip comes with software that enables you to do things like crop and stitch photos, drop images into Facebook, and share directly to Dropbox, Evernote, and other cloud services. For the artsy, crafty, and creative, this handy portable scanner is a worthwhile investment.
- Dead simple to use
- Excellent tool for creatives
- Nice size
- Produces JPEGs only
- Runs on four AAA batteries
Best for Creatives
The ultimate arts and crafts device
The ideal tool for artists, this gadget excels at scanning artwork, coins, stamps, notes, and more.
The best portable scanner on the market today is the Doxie Go SE Wi-Fi. With a space-saving design, this scanner tucks away nicely in a drawer or bag, and operates quietly and efficiently via a rechargeable battery.
There’s a bit of room for improvement here. The Doxie supports memory cards only up to 64GB, and that may not be enough room to store hefty PDFs or more than a few albums of family photos. Also, This scanner cannot read both sides of a page, requiring you to flip sheets over to capture two-sided documents manually. Despite minor inconveniences, this portable scanner is an indispensable tool and the one I’ve carried in my backpack for years. It’s durably designed to withstand travel and is every bit as capable as a full-size flatbed scanner.
Credits — The team that worked on this guide
Jodi Owan is a freelance writer and photographer who has been published in print and online. When not climbing mountains with a camera, she can be found testing and writing about technology. Find her on Instagram and her website.
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