On scanning and the DocuPen RC800

The following is my humble entry to Rob Bushway’s “Win your own DocuPen RC800” contest.

I think the problem with most of the comments I’ve read so far is that they all focus on why scanning is good.  A lot of what has been mentioned already can be done with existing scanners.  This is the Docupen RC800 from Planon, folks! It is significantly different from every other scanner released to date!

So I’m going to be a little different here.  Rather than just talk about how living the portable paperless lifestyle is good, I’m going to comment more on why the DocuPen RC800 appears to be, in theory, the first nearly ideal scanner for this purpose.

I spent a couple of days digging into portable scanners about a month ago. None of them really met the bar for me. The DocuPen was closest, but lacking in some areas.

First of all, previous iterations of the DocuPen have been substandard in that the scans were in black and white (NOT greyscale) and were limited to 200dpi and tiny amounts of memory. 2MB? Come on. 300 dpi is also usually recommended for OCR scanning. You would have real trouble scanning for OCR or trying to get a high quality grab of anything with a picture in it with older versions of the DocuPen.

Now that the DocuPen RC800 is out, we have a whole new ballgame. It scans at 400dpi and in true color. In addition, it has the ability to accept a MicroSD card so that it can actually hold a decent amount of scans. Like its predecessors, it charges via USB so that you don’t have to lumber around with an extra AC adapter. Wow! As you can see, they knocked the ball out of the park spec wise, as you now really have, in theory, a portable high quality scanner that can fully accessorize your tablet with a minimal travel size and weight impact.

The pen form factor is extremely important as well, and one thing I haven’t seen mentioned. Folks, this is so very important. Most portable scanners nowadays are sheet fed. That means you can feed paper through, but if you want to scan a magazine or page from a book, you are up the creek without a paddle. This is why the release of the RC800 could be a watershed event for portable scanning. The hand scanner pen format allows you to scan virtually anything you want. Not just loose single sheet paper.

There is one area where the DocuPen RC800 falls short, mostly by practical limitations. And that is high volume scanning of magazines or books. If you have a need for both portable scanning and heavy duty scanning work, then you might need both the RC800 and a dedicated scanner at home for books and magazines. I don’t view this as a knock on the DocuPen RC800, since it has a specific purpose in life and it has the potential to do that job very well.

So in summary, yes, I want to live the paperless lifestyle just like everyone else. I would use the DocuPen RC800 to scan printed meeting notes from others, important mailings, brochures at conferences, and interesting pages from books and articles from magazines when I’m at the bookstore. I would use the power of the computer to organize, consolidate, and backup that information in a far better fashion than regular paper ever could. The trick is knowing why the RC800 fits the bill so much better than previous attempts at this vision.

Finally, if I had a DocuPen RC800, I’d write a full review on my blog examining whether the RC800 lives up to the potential it holds, or if it ultimately gets held back by other details that one often assumes should work, but don’t in a new product.

Written by rkuo[AT]snapstream.com.

Thanks for listening. I was planning on writing this anyway at some point, so it was a good reason to get my butt in gear. =)

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