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DocuPenDocu-Pen Scanner a "Going" Concern

By Jim Bray

Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a scanner small enough to haul around with you wherever you might go, yet big enough to scan entire pages at a time rather than just a few lines?

I mean, who hasn't been in a public library (or doctor's office or wherever), and seen a document, ad, or something  else that you wished you take back to your home or office with you without stealing the original document?

Well, thanks to Planon, of Mississauga, Ontario, there is such a beast. It’s called the DocuPen, and it's a cute little, hand held, full page scanner that looks like a little windshield wiper blade. The DocuPen measures about eight and a half inches long, about the same width as a typical page and is small enough to fit easily into your pocket, purse or briefcase. You can use it to scan pages right into its 2 megabytes of onboard memory, so you don’t even need to have your computer with you to make it work.

DocuPenThe model I tried was the DocuPen R700, which the company claimed can scan a page in 4 seconds and store up to 100 pages in memory. I’m not sure I agree with the 100 pages claim, since two meg doesn’t go far with the type of large picture files that are traditionally what you get from a typical scan (plus I never tried to load it up completely), but other than that the DocuPen seems to work pretty much as advertised.

The R700 sells for about $200 (there's also a $99 base model and a $299 color version), and comes with a nifty rechargeable feature that sends juice to the thing’s on board rechargeable battery when you plug it into your computer’s USB port.

Via the USB port is also how you download your scanned pages, and to get any text you've scanned back into editable form the product also comes with Optical Character Recognition technology – the plagiarist’s secret weapon.

OCR technology works best if the scan is very clean, of course, and that means you need a steady hand on the scanner as well as on the page being scanned. Otherwise, the DocuPen can get annoyed and throw up its virtual hands in disgust.  This is where I ran into the most difficulty; a lack of patience translated into too-fast hand motion and this screwed up a lot of my scans.

But you can't blame the product for that!

The DocuPen isn’t perfect, of course. For example, I think they could have found a better place to put the on/off button on the R700 than on the top of the unit. It would be okay if you didn’t have to mash the button so hard to turn the thing on, but as it is right now the best way to activate the DocuPen is to wrap your hand around it and I think that over time this might cause excessive wear on the little rollers on its bottom surface that you drag across the page.

Maybe that’s Planon’s strategy for maximizing new sales over the years!

On the other hand, they've also given you a way of keeping the scanner in good shape over the long term, thanks to a nifty little leather carrying case with which it comes bundled.

Even though I have trouble holding the DocuPen steady enough to maximize its performance, I’m quite impressed with the product and the idea behind it. It could be just what the doctor ordered for those times you need quick, convenient scanning while you’re away from the home or office.

After all, who carries a scanner around with him under normal circumstances? Where would you put it? Yet the DocuPen is small enough to accompany you anywhere except, possibly, when you go swimming or SCUBA diving.

And just think about the potential for people involved in industrial espionage!

Jim Bray's columns are available through the TechnoFile Syndicate.

We welcome your comments!