The best portable scanner
Gone are the days of bulky office equipment. Rarely does anyone ever need to run to the business center of a hotel or an office supply store to create copies or print necessary documents anymore. Technology has shrunk over time and given people on the go the ability to quickly scan, print, and copy. A portable scanner is a convenient travel-ready tool. With the push of a button, you can get tasks done without being tethered to your physical office.
Read our buying guide to learn more about portable scanners and the convenience they provide. Our favorite, Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100, has a small desk footprint and helps declutter your workspace.
Considerations when choosing portable scanners
Portable scanner benefits
Here are a few reasons to consider a portable scanner:
Versatility: Scan virtually anything with a portable scanner -- documents, photos, receipts, business cards, etc.
Portable: The most obvious benefit of a portable scanner is that it's easy to use anywhere. Don't have a physical office space? A portable scanner is ideal for those who frequently work out of coffee shops or shared workspaces.
Compact: The small size is perfect for tiny office spaces or for those who aren't keen on cluttering up their workspace.
Connectivity: Bluetooth connectivity means you have fewer cables to deal with. It also allows for easy wireless transfer of documents to your computer, tablet, or smartphone.
Size and weight
Some "portable" scanners are marketed as such and may be great for small workspaces, but they aren't quite compact enough for travel purposes. Try to find a compact model that weighs less than a pound if you intend on regularly tossing it into your briefcase or bag.
Portable scanners are powered by a battery, USB, or outlet. Battery-powered models are great for those who never know if they'll be close to an outlet. A USB-powered scanner may utilize your computer as a backup power source or may be powered entirely from your laptop or desktop. Portable scanners that require an outlet to function don't require battery babysitting, but you're a little more limited when selecting a workspace with this type of device.
Portable scanners are typically Bluetooth or WiFi-enabled. To scan documents and send them straight to your smartphone, Bluetooth is your connection of choice. Some WiFi devices don't allow users to scan documents while not connected to the internet, so check the model specs before settling on a particular scanner.
Check whether a scanner features an SD card slot. If not, determine if the internal storage is enough for your needs. Not all scanners have onboard storage capabilities, which is a problem if you're laptop-less or away from your desktop computer while scanning.
Resolution is measured in dots per inch (dpi). It points to the quality of the resulting scanned documents. Resolution matters little if the bulk of your scans consist of text-based documents. For photography scans, however, a minimum resolution of 450 dpi is recommended.
Automatic document feeder
An ADF is useful for those planning to scan multiple documents in one sitting. Otherwise, a manual feed model should suffice.
Expect to pay between $30 and $300 for a portable scanner. Inexpensive models are ideal for quick scans where quality is not particularly important. On the higher end of the price scale, scanners have a greater number of features and produce higher-quality scans.
Q. Is a portable scanner noisy?
A. Most portable scanners produce a lot less noise than traditional desktop scanners.
Q. Can I scan smaller items like receipts using a portable scanner?
A. The majority of portable scanners can handle a variety of document sizes, but specific models feature special slots that accommodate non-standard documents.
Portable scanners we recommend
Best of the best: Fujitsu's ScanSnap iX100 Wireless Mobile Scanner
Our take: A reasonably priced, fast-scanning portable model that produces high-quality scans.
What we like: Scans in black and white and in color. Scanning takes less than six seconds. Wireless and compatible with a variety of devices and platforms. Easy to use menu. Lightweight. Excellent battery life.
What we dislike: No onboard memory for offline scanning.
Best bang for your buck: Brother's DS-720D Mobile Duplex Scanner
Our take: Cost-effective mobile scanner perfect for tiny desktop environments.
What we like: Ability to scan double-sided pages. Decent scan quality for such a low-priced option.
What we dislike: Not battery-powered; needs to be connected to a computer to run.
Our take: Versatile miniature scanner that's incredibly easy to operate.
What we like: Color scanning available. High-quality scans up to 600 dpi. Automatic document feeder. Great battery life. Compatible with multiple mobile devices, PC, and Mac.
What we dislike: Some users report issues with mechanical failure and software.
Steph Coelho is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. BestReviews and its newspaper partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.