Best portable scanners iMore 2021
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, and 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
- Best value: Brother DS-740D
- Best duplex scanner: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i
- Best for mobile offices: Epson Workforce ES-60W
- Most versatile: Canon ImageFORMULA P-215II
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, one of the best portable scanners on the market. This sleek model 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 sync and scan 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, this device cannot automatically scan the front and back of documents. 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
Best value: Brother DS-740D
You don't have to spend outside your budget to get a reliable, compact mobile document scanner. The Brother DS-740D hits a friendly price point and doesn't skimp on features. If you want one of the best portable scanners in an affordable package, put this in your cart now.
The Brother measures less than one foot in length, so it fits in a laptop bag or backpack with no trouble. Scan speed is 16 ppm with an optical resolution of 600 x 600 dpi. It captures detailed images, ID cards, receipts, and document data with ease and does simplex and duplex scanning.
My one complaint: there's no user guide included with this model. It's not hard to figure out, and instructions can be found online, but it would be nice to have a hard copy of the directions. That out of the way, this is a quick scanner that outputs good image quality for a fraction of the price of other models.
- Scans up to 600 dpi
- Fits in a bag
- Duplex scanner
- Does 16 ppm
- No instructions included
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 with the Fujitsu ScanSnap. 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 ScanSnap. This model weighs in at twice that of other portable scanners and nearly double the size. It's still packable, but it'll take up more room in your bag than some of our other choices.
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 and works on both Mac and PC. 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
- Creates searchable PDFs
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 the smallest and lightest on our list of the best portable scanners this year. Weighing in at just over half a pound, the tiny WorkForce is heavy 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, the Epson 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 cordless and 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 scans 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
Most versatile: Canon ImageFORMULA P-215II
The Canon is the best portable scanner for those who need a unit that can work with all sizes and types of documents. The ImageFORMULA converts paper documents into searchable PDFs and JPGs and scans them directly to the cloud service of your choosing.
This model is small enough to sit on a corner of your desk or slide into a messenger bag or carry-on. It can handle receipts, embossed cards, reports, photos, plastic cards, and even long documents.
This is a duplex scanner that auto-feeds documents. The automatic feeder holds 20 sheets and scans both sides of a document simultaneously, in color, at a speed of up to 15 ppm. The Canon ImageFORMULA is simple to use, works with Macs and PCs, and will keep you organized at home or on the road. It's expensive, but we think it's worth it.
- Dead simple to use
- Automatic sheet feeder
- 15 ppm
- Works with any document
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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