The Best (?) Portable Document Scanner

Genealogists tend to collect a lot of paper, including photocopies of all sorts as well as hand-written notes, print-outs of email messages, and much more. Of course, this creates problems: how to organize and maintain that pile of paper?

I recommend going paperless. That is, digitizing and then securely saving the digital images of that paper. Using today’s computer tools, organizing images of paper documents is much easier than organizing the original papers. Saving everything as digital images offers more security, saves space, is better for the environment, and reduces costs when compared to storing paper.


I went paperless several years ago and hope to never go back to filing cabinets, 3-ring binders, and constantly-lost documents. For a list of my past articles about going paperless, start at:

I have written before about using my favorite scanner that stores the images directly in any of a number of cloud-based storage services. However, it is a rather large and heavy scanner that requires power from a wall outlet. Now Ben Keough has written a review in the Wirecutter web site called The Best Portable Document Scanner that should interest anyone contemplating the purchase of a PORTABLE scanner.

NOTE: (a division of the New York Times) is one of the few web sites I trust to publish accurate and impartial reviews of all sorts of products. The articles on are not influenced by paid advertisements.

Ben Keough writes:

“We’ve spent more than 130 hours researching and testing portable document scanners since 2013, and after our latest round of testing we’re convinced that the Brother ADS-1250W provides the best balance of usability, performance, and portability you can find. It accurately recognizes text, produces good-looking results, works wirelessly with computers and mobile devices alike, and scans quickly.”

The same article has links to non-portable scanner reviews as well.

NOTE: While it is lightweight and is called a “portable” scanner,  the ADS-1250W does not operate from batteries. It requires 110 or 220 volt power from a wall outlet. You can carry it almost anywhere but you will still need to find a wall outlet to power it.

I am not going to purchase a new portable scanner as I already own two of them and they work well. I don’t see any need to replace them. However, if I was in the market for a new portable scanner, I would read Ben Keough’s article and carefully consider his findings.

You can find The Best Portable Document Scanner at:


I purchased the Brother ADS-1000W three years ago. I am very pleased with its ease of use and portability. I highly recommend the Brother scanners.


This article is nearly 2 years old. As with all technology, I’d look for a more current review.


On seeing this, I followed the link to Amazon. It is highly recommended that one checks out Amazon customer reviews on this item. Not quite as favorable as Wirecutter.


For many many years I traveled for work, finding that many accounts didn’t have scanners that worked well was a frustration. Since I must keep copies of all my documentation (healthcare provider) I purchased a similar scanner and it fit comfortably in my briefcase. I copied the documents and mailed them to myself rather than carry paper. What I do now is use the scanner in my iPhone and email to myself, lighter and faster.


I have several scanners for different applications and had a hard time getting going on scanning. And, I believe it was you who said that you should start with today and then work your way back. I have also organised my papers into projects for scanning. For example – hand written notes on everything from playbills, Christmas Cards, scraps of paper and so on. Then there are Family Group Sheets that I sent out and were returned with changes from relatives. Aside from bills, etc. I have now scanned 10cm/4in of handwritten notes and named them so that I can find them easily!


I generally scan from my Epson printer when I am at home. I find it works great. When I am out and about, I simply take a photo of the document I need with my IPad, download it to my computer when I return home and then put it wherever it needs to go. What I don’t like about the portable scanner mentioned above is that you can only do “flat” papers, not anything that is “bound”. Since there are several books written about my family, I have photographed the pages I want for insertion into my family tree. Also, when I was in the manuscript room at the New York Public Library about a year ago, I was able to photograph a number of pages from bound family history documents (this is permitted as long as a flash is not used). I also photographed quite a few pages of a New Amsterdam family “ledger” from the 1600’s at the New York Historical Society. All of the photographed information turned out clear and distinct and I printed many of them for family tree binders (I have no intention of ever going completely paperless!)


Unfortunately they are all sheet feeders which aren’t recommended because they can damage items feed through especially photos.


    I don’t use my Brother portable scanner for photos. My Flip-Pal scans my smaller photos and the flatbed scanner is for larger photos. I have not had any documents damaged when scanned with my portable scanner. Just take care to set the documents in the scanner correctly.


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