The Flip-Pal was being demonstrated at the Salt Lake Family History Expo today, and I must say that I was impressed. The Flip-Pal is a small, portable scanner. When I say "portable," I really mean it in every sense of the word. In this case, there is no computer required! There are no cables dangling about, no attached computer, no power cord to plug into the wall, nothing. Take a look at the picture above. Click on the image to see a larger picture. Everything required to operate the scanner is shown in the picture. That's one scanner and one human. That's all that is needed.
You don't plug this scanner into a wall outlet (it is battery powered) and you do not connect it to your computer. The images are stored on a Secure Digital card. See the picture below. The Secure Digital card is shown in the person's left hand. It is the same as the SecureDigital cards used in many digital cameras, including my Canon camera that snapped the picture.
Operation is simple: place the photo on the scanner, then press one button. Even I can do that! The photograph is scanned and stored in the SecureDigital card. A tiny, thumbnail image of the photograph also appears on a tiny LCD display screen on the top of the scanner.
While I typically write about scanning photographs and documents, the Flip-Pal is also suitable for scanning drawings, coins, jewelry, and other small objects. It will also scan the details on a section of a quilt, although obviously not the entire quilt at once.
Once the images are scanned and stored on the card, you remove the SecureDigital card and insert it into your computer. If your computer does not have a slot for a SecureDigital card, you can use the included adapter that accepts SecureDigital cards and plugs into your computer's USB port.
The images on the card can be quickly transferred to the computer for further editing or uploading to web sites or for copying to other media.
The scanner can even be turned upside down to scan larger documents or pictures. I guess that is why the word "flip" is in the product name: you can flip the scanner over and make scans of larger documents. Larger documents and pictures are scanned one section at a time, as the scanner only handles a maximum size of 4-by-6 inches. The individual partial images can then be "stitched together" by the included Windows software.
"Stitching" together a larger image from smaller, individual images can be a tricky process with other products. Not so with the Flip-Pal. The software that is shipped with the Flip-Pal is difficult to describe but very intuitive in operation. In short, the included software takes all the work out of the process. You use the mouse to "click-and-drag" the photos to their approximate final locations, then let the stitching software automatically line up the various pieces and then merge, or "stitch," the individual small images into one large image. The process really is easier than it sounds.
In years past, I have tried to stitch images together into larger photographs, using whatever software was available at that time. The result always was "ragged." It looked like something patched together haphazardly and, in fact, that's exactly what it was, despite my best efforts. In contrast, the stitching software included with the Flip-Pal works automatically and, if done properly, the "seams" are invisible. I saw large printouts of pictures that had been made from several individual smaller scans. I would have guessed that the pictures had been made on a very large flatbed scanner. Not so. They were made with the small Flip-Pal scanner.
All the required software is stored on the SecureDigital card that ships with the scanner. There is no need for an installation CD disk. Copying images from the SecureDigital card to a computer should work on a Windows, Macintosh, or even on a Linux system. However, the included "stitching software" is available only for Windows at this time. A Macintosh version is being written, but no delivery dates have been announced.
For other photo editing needs, any photo editor should work well. Anything from PhotoShop down to the free software you received with a previously purchased digital camera should work well.
Color reproduction appears to be excellent. I didn't get a chance to really put this scanner through its paces today, but the examples I saw were impressive. It scans at either 300 dpi or 600 dpi at the user's selection.
OK, here is the best part: the Flip-Pal costs $150. One hundred and fifty smackers. Not bad for a scanner with this capability. That price includes shipping, a SecureDigital card, a SecureDigital-to-USB adapter, batteries, all the required software, and a one-year warranty.
I want one of these!
For more information, look at http://www.flip-pal.com
By the way, I am not compensated in any way for writing this product review or any of the other product reviews in this newsletter. I just happen to like the Flip-Pal scanner and hope to find enough money in my checkbook to purchase my own Flip-Pal before long. However, if you do purchase a Flip-Pal, please let the folks that sell the Flip-Pal know where you read about it. I would love to have the publicity for this newsletter! You “read about it here.”