The Best Portable Scanner

The article I published yesterday on Converting My Personal Library to Digital has already generated a number of comments at the end of the article and also private email messages to me. The most common questions are:

“What are your thoughts on the best receipt scanner that I can go between iPhone, iPad and PC?”

and

“What is the best portable scanner for use in libraries or archives where it isn’t convenient to carry a full-sized scanner?

scanner-appMy answer is the same for both questions: “Your present cell phone’s camera.”

Your cell phone probably is also your cheapest solution as most people already own a cell phone with a built-in camera of rather good resolution. That wasn’t true a few years ago when the cell phone cameras were lower resolution and produced somewhat grainy images. However, most of today’s cell phones produce high-quality 8-megapixel or even higher resolution images. My new cell phone has a 12-megapixel, phase detection autofocus and laser detection autofocus camera with f/2.0 aperture. It produces gorgeous images even when used close-up to the document being scanned… uh, captured. Most other cell phones these days have similar specifications or something approaching those specs.

I have written before about using a cell phone camera as portable scanner. You can find my past articles at:

The Scanner in Your Pocket or Purse 

The Best Scanning Apps for Android and iPhone

Turn Your Cell Phone into a Portable Scanner 

Scanner Pro 6 Will Turn Your iPhone or iPad into a Portable Scanner 

Microsoft Releases a Document Scanner App for iPhones and Android 

Admittedly, a cell phone camera will not do a very good job of digitizing those long strips of paper receipts you get at the grocery store and other retail outlets. However, I doubt if many genealogists have a big need to store grocery store receipts.

Cell phone cameras usually work well on individual pages from a book or old documents.

If your present cell phone camera isn’t high enough resolution for use in digitizing documents and pages from a book, I do have a suggestion: Shouldn’t you be asking Santa for a new cell phone?

Besides, that is probably cheaper than buying a new scanner anyway!

7 Comments

I don’t recall if you have ever touched Qroma. It combines the good camera of the iPhone et.al. with a fixed position, LED lighting and sound recognition. One can “scan” then label by voice. It was originally a Kickstarter project. See it at qroma.net.

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Thomas A. Montgomery December 16, 2016 at 1:09 pm

What about these big journal/ledger books? About 12 X 18. Too large for the Standscan Pro box’s focal length. Need something to hold the cell phone steady and high. Lighting often a problem (I could email photos).
What about just using the TurboScan, ScanPro or CamScanner+?

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When you want to capture a long, skinny grocery receipt, just cut it in two or three and place side by side. Unless your goal is to run OCR, you’ll get the job done fast!

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What about the Flip Pal…I used it to scan pages from my greatgrandmother’s Bible. I did each page in sections and the software stitched them together nicely so I could print it on my large format HP printer.
Pat Heaton

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    Hi Pat,
    I accidentally upon this site, so my reply is unrelated.
    I was wondering if your HEATON family comes from Kentucky. My mother’s people have deep Kentucky roots, and her maiden name was ATON, with her great-great grandfather, Nelson Hamilton Aton, marrying Margaret? Heaton, his second wife. He had most of his children with her, so I would have many half-relations in the Heatons.
    Can we correspond to find our possible connections?
    Thanks,
    Jane Reed
    janewreed@gmail.com, or genieowlogy@gmail.com

    Like

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