The skinny on a slim new pen scanner and more product news.
As a practice management advisor, I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting tools that can bring ease and convenience to lawyers’ work lives. One device that recently caught my eye is the Planon DocuPen RC 800 portable color scanner. It is an extremely small, portable, lightweight color scanner that, unlike similarly sized pen scanners, is able to scan a full 8.5 x 11-inch page in a single pass. Sounds good—but does it work? Here’s what I learned when I took it for a test-drive.
The DocuPen RC800 comes bundled with everything that you need to use the scanner and download images to your computer, including a copy of PaperPort SE version 9. The “Quick Start Guide” instructions that come with the package are a little sketchy, but they provide the basics for installing the DocuPen application and PaperPort SE. An accompanying CD-ROM provides useful instructions for scanning. The CD-ROM also includes demonstration videos showing the use of the scanner in different settings, but they would be better if they actually demonstrated how to use the scanner.
The concept behind this scanner is a good one. Rather than scan line by line or stitch together two image halves like the old HP Capshare E-920 hand scanner, the RC800 captures the entire page width using an 8-inch-wide scanning surface wrapped in a compact body. The scanner relies on a series of rollers on its bottom to roll across the page and to provide alignment calibration for the captured image. However, this method does make the unit extremely sensitive to changes in direction and scanning speed, and it took me quite a bit of practice to start getting usable results from my scans. I obtained the best results from scanning flat sheets of paper that had not been folded. I found that scanning paper that had folds could easily interfere with the scan because the rollers had a problem in handling the “bump” caused by the fold. Scanning magazines also proved problematic because of the raised edge caused by the middle fold.
Operation of the unit is simple and relies on two buttons on the top to control the color mode and scanning resolution settings that are controlled by the application software. Using the DocuPen application, you can change the default settings affecting color depth and resolution, which are then uploaded to the scanner. The scanner buttons allow you to select between these saved settings. Scanner resolution varies between 100 dpi to 400 dpi. Using the higher resolution uses more memory—and even more so if one of the two color modes are also used. In black-and-white mode, I had no problems getting more than 50 full-page images on the scanner. However, using the color modes rapidly filled the scanner’s memory with just one or two half-page images. Upgrading the onboard memory will be a must. Luckily, Planon has made this simple by allowing users to add memory through the use of readily available SD Mini cards.
I am definitely impressed with the features that Planon has squeezed into such a small package, and if you don’t have room for a USB-connected sheet-fed scanner, then the DocuPen RC800 may be the answer for your portable scanning needs if you can afford the almost $300 price tag. However, there are things not to like about this unit as well.
Scorecard. So with a maximum possible total score of 20, here is how I rate it:
|Ease of Use
|Quality of Materials
|Value for Cost
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