While a paperless university remains a fantasy, it’s certainly the case that there has been increased interest in paperless workflows. We’ve had a series of posts on paperless apps and devices here at ProfHacker, and David Sparks’s excellent e-book, Paperless galvanized many workflow discussions. (A recent good one is Chris Holscher‘s.)
One of the devices we looked at last year is the Doxie Go, a portable scanner by Apparent that tries to unbundle scanning from computers. You could scan anywhere, saving the scans either to internal memory or to an SD card, and then sync later. You could even use an Eye-Fi card to sync wirelessly to your computer. I liked the device, but Konrad, who travels to archives a bit more than I do, didn’t like the fact that the device doesn’t work while it’s charging.
This year, Apparent is back with a new model of Doxie Scanner: the Doxie One, which partly addresses Konrad’s concern. Like the Doxie Go, the One is a single-sheet scanner that is both portable and inexpensive. Indeed, the Doxie One is $149, which is an excellent price for the portability, ease of use, and quality of the product. It even resembles last year’s Go:
Doxie will also cheerfully sell you skins that let you add some color to your scanner.
The Doxie One addresses Konrad’s concern by removing the internal battery altogether. Instead, it’s powered by a regular AC outlet, or by 4 rechargeable (not alkaline) AAA batteries. (Like the Go, the One will not scan while connected to a computer.)
Another reason the Doxie One is $50 cheaper than last year’s model is that there’s no internal storage. Scans are saved directly to an SD card. Doxie includes a 2GB card with the Doxie One, but it’s not an Eye-Fi card, so it doesn’t support wireless syncing out of the box. You can sync scans to a computer either directly from the SD card or with the included USB cable. You can also sync to an iPad, if you have one of Apple’s SD card reader adapters. (On the iPad, the scans open in iPhoto, rather than in a native app.)
It’s also the case that the Doxie One only supports 300dpi scans, unlike the Go which can also support 600dpi. (If higher quality scans are your priority, then you are probably not in the market for a $150 ultraportable scanner.)
The review unit I’ve been playing with works exactly like last year’s Doxie Go: it’s a dead-simple single-sheet scanner, capable of scanning a letter-size sheet in 8 seconds. As I said last year, this is a scanner you’ll want to use to process the daily onslaught of paper, not to reduce your archive of photocopied journal articles to .pdfs. The software is intuitive, allowing for edits, for combining sheets into one PDF, for sharing with Evernote/Dropbox (or, on a Mac, via AirDrop or iMessage), and more.
If price and space were not constraints, then the David Sparks-endorsed Fujitsu ScanSnap would be the scanner to buy. But it’s more than $400! Even Fujitsu’s portable models are in a different price range than the Doxie line. But the scanner that works best is the one you have with you always, and the Doxie scanners are portable and affordable enough to be a useful tool in digitizing paper–possibly even in the classroom.
Not everyone will want a scanner like this. After all, there are in fact apps for that, which turn your smartphone’s camera into a scanner, some even offering OCR. While I have used them in a pinch, right now I find the apps a little annoying to use–I’m always worried about the light, or the background, or holding my hand steady, or whatever. A simple little scanner that grabs the paper, runs it through, and gives you a nice digital copy is just the thing. And the Doxie Go and new Doxie One make it trivial to get rid of the paper cluttering up your office, home, or car–or to keep it from getting there in the first place.
Photo “Lila on a Messy Desk” by Flickr user Laurie Avocado / Creative Commons BY-2.0