Wired on ScanStik Pen-Sized Scanner by Jonathan Liu


ScanStik SK600: Ultra-Portable Scanning
By Jonathan H. Liu Categories: Electronic Geek, Toys and Technology
Wired on ScanStik Pen-Sized Scanner by Jonathan Liu!
ScanStik SK600 ó a little bit bigger than a Sharpie.

I remember the first time I got to use a scanner: it was during high school, and the photography teacher had the only one in the school. I was able to scan a few things during art class, and then tried to teach myself Photoshop with some grainy versions of a photo. Then, in college, one of my roommates got himself a handheld scanner. It had a cord, could only handle things up to about five inches wide, and was it wasnít small. Plus, you had to move really slowly and it was easy to get a crooked or warped scan.

Wired on ScanStik Pen-Sized Scanner by Jonathan Liu!
ScanStik accepts Micro SD cards.

Since then, flatbed scanners have gotten much cheaper ó Iíve had stand-alone scanners and the integrated all-in-one printers. Itís nice having a flatbed for the stability and size, but they take up a lot of desk space (especially since you need to be able to lift the lid). For doing a quick scan of a small item ó say, to grab an image of a few cards for a board game review ó it would be nice to have something a bit quicker.

Weíve had a few reviews recently of portable scanners, like the ScanSnap and the Doxie Go. Hereís one more portable scanner to consider: the ScanStik.

Wired on ScanStik Pen-Sized Scanner by Jonathan Liu!
Bottom of Scanstik, showing the image sensor and rollers.

Itís slightly thicker than a Sharpie and maybe twice as long (9.3″), but it can scan a letter-sized sheet of paper in about 4 seconds, at up to 600dpi in full color. Itís battery operated, and the Micro SD slot can handle cards up to 32GB (though youíll need to provide your own). Once youíve scanned things, you just plug the scanner into your computer with the included USB cable, and download images from there.

Wired on ScanStik Pen-Sized Scanner by Jonathan Liu!
Slim leather zipper case.

The software included, which has OCR for converting scanned images into text, is Windows-only, so I wasnít able to try that out on my Mac. For Mac users, the scanner simply shows up as a removable drive, and you can copy the images from it to your hard drive. Having the OCR would be a nice bonus, but I donít currently use any for my flatbed scanner, either.

Also included is a slim leather zipper case. I suppose itís better to keep the image sensor covered when not in use, but the case is kind of weird-looking, with a little loop that you can snap onto something. You should probably expect to get a few ďIs that a scanner in your pocket, orÖĒ jokes the first time you pull it out. I do wish that there was some way to carry the USB cable in the case, too ó right now itís just an extra thing floating around with no place to put it.

Still, itís pretty cool to be able to scan anything (well, anything flat) with this little wand. Iíve been testing it out on a few things: my online bank lets me deposit checks by scanning them and uploading them, so I donít have to fire up the flatbed for that anymore. Iíve also scanned some of my kidsí artwork, and Iím thinking about using Jim Kellyís activity book idea for some on-the-go stuff, maybe the Monster Doodle Book.

Wired on ScanStik Pen-Sized Scanner by Jonathan Liu!
A little doodle to try scanning.

Of course, portability still isnít cheap. The ScanStik retails for $159.99. PlanOn has a few others like itó monochrome scanners, and the DocuPen X line which has Bluetooth capabilities but runs a bit pricier. (Iím not sure where this DocuPen RC850 fits in Ė itís older, but similarly priced and seems to have similar specs.) It is a little cheaper than the Doxie Go, but since you move the scanner yourself instead of having the paper fed through it, it can be a little fiddlier. It is, however, incredibly lightweight (about 2 ounces) and quite portable.

It may take a little practice to perfect the scanning technique. For one, larger sheets which wonít shift as much may be easier than smaller ones. I tried scanning my little robot doodle (which is on a bit of cardstock), and you can see from the side-by-side scans below that there are a few bits here and there that got distorted:

Wired on ScanStik Pen-Sized Scanner by Jonathan Liu!
Two scans of a doodle show slight discrepancies.

The blue robotís antenna and the corner of its head, for instance, got a little tweaked, probably since it was close to the top edge of the scan and I may have tipped it a bit going over the cardstockís edge. I havenít seen similar issues with scanning full pages yet, and so far Iíve only tripped the ďtoo fastĒ indicator once.

My one other gripe about the ScanStik is that the auto-shut-off is a little too quick. If youíre scanning multiple pages, you better have them lined up and ready to go, because youíll have to turn the device back on if you wait too long. That requires pushing and holding the power button for a second, so doing that multiple times in a row can get to be a pain. Iím sure itís meant to conserve battery power, but I wish it would wait just a little bit longer.

PlanOn has several other portable-office gadgets as well: the PrintStik is a portable printer, and the credit cardĖsized SlimScan looks pretty slick, too. For more info, visit their website.

Wired: Full-page, full-color scanning that is extremely portable and quite speedy.

Tired: OCR software for Windows only; wiggling too much can distort scans.

Disclosure: review sample provided by PlanOn.



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