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Whether you’re conducting business from home, the office, or a hotel room, you will at one point or another find yourself needing to scan an important document. In this age of remote work, we need portable scanners that are as flexible as our schedules. As established a technology as the scanner is, the advances that have allowed them to pack the comparable functionality of a full-size desktop size machine into a diminutive portable device is remarkable. We've researched the top options for a variety of different purposes.
Here you will find the best portable scanner to aid you in your professional pursuits.
Best Overall: Canon ImageFormula R10
It’s hard to beat Canon when it comes to imaging products. Their brand is synonymous when it comes to professional photography and printing, so it should come as no surprise that you can expect a similar level of quality from their scanners. The Canon Imageformula R10 offers professional scans in a portable package at a remarkably affordable price point. It allows you to easily digitize everything from receipts to legal documents and business cards, and it provides a range of export options for those scans.
The Imageformular R10 is fast, too; it’s able to process 12 pages per second fed through its automatic feeder, which is capable of holding up to 20 pages at a time. Add to this a sleek, modern design that yields a confident a professional image and you have the ideal portable scanner.
Best Handheld: IRIScan Book 5 Wi-Fi
A handheld scanner is perhaps the easiest scanner to use on the go, and one of the most versatile. The IRIscan Book 5 Wi-Fi is battery-powered and easy to use to scan documents at up to 1,200 dpi simply by sliding the scanner over them. It’s perfect for harmlessly scanning things like books and magazines. It can connect via Wi-Fi to your Android or IOS device or just store scanned documents on the included MicroSD card. The Book 5 Wi-Fi is particularly ideal for doing research in a library or otherwise capturing information on the fly from just about any kind of document.
Best for Photos: Plustek ePhoto Z300
For scanning printed photos on the go, the Plustek ePhoto Z300 provides up to 600 dpi high-quality scans of photos up to 8 x 10 inches in size. It’s a great way to scan both important images for work and to preserve old family photos. It’s small and compact, making it ideal for travel, and takes as little as two seconds to scan a single photo. Included software helps you to quickly enhance and restore faded images, and the scanner is extremely simple to use. Keep in mind that it’s PC and Mac only, so it won’t work with your smartphone.
Best for Ease of Use: Canon CanoScan LIDE 300
A truly wireless option, the Doxie Go SE lets you scan anywhere without needing a computer. Easily scan full-color paper, photos, and receipts in just eight seconds at up to 600 dpi. At the size of a rolled-up magazine, this 12.2 x 2.2 x 1.8-inch portable scanner features a rechargeable battery that lets you scan up to 400 pages per charge. Even more, you can store up to 4,000 pages in the scanner's included memory. The included Doxie app also syncs scans, sends them directly to your apps, and can even convert them into searchable PDFs. Its super-compact size also means you can tuck the scanner in your bag for easy travel.
Best Standalone: Doxie Go SE
One of the fastest portable scanners in the market, the Epson WorkForce ES-50 can scan a single page in as little as 5.5 seconds. And despite its small size at 1.8 x 10.7 x 1.3 inches, the single-sheet-fed scanner can handle documents up to 8.5 x 72 inches, as well as ID cards and receipts. Use Epson's ScanSmart software to easily scan, see, and save your documents. You can even combine multiple pages of scans into one file with its automatic feeding mode. Compatible with Windows and Mac computers, the USB-powered scanner can also scan to cloud services, including DropBox and Google Drive.
Related: The Best Document Scanners
Best for Speed: Epson ES-50
Like Canon, Epson is a trusted name in the world of professional printing and scanning, and the Epson ES-50 is no exception. This portable scanner is capable of scanning large documents 8.5 inches wide and a whopping 72 inches long through its mobile single sheet feed system. What’s even more impressive is its ability to scan large documents in as little as 5.5 seconds. This means that you can take this compact device on the road and scan documents in a wide range of sizes without losing much time. It’s perfect for people traveling professionally with limited time in which to conduct business. The ES-50 is also USB powered from your computer, can create searchable PDFs, and can scan documents and upload the files directly to the cloud.
Related: The Best Photo Scanners
Best Scanner/Printer Combo: HP Officejet 250
When you’re traveling for business, you may well find yourself in need of both a printer and a scanner, and the HP OfficeJet 250 performs both those tasks in one convenient, portable machine. The Officejet 250 is built tough and compact to easily fit in a car or backpack, and it’s battery-powered so you don’t have to worry about finding an outlet.
This all-in-one device is capable of printing up to 8 x 10 documents and is fully wireless with Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capability. Its 10-page automatic document feeder is convenient for scanning or printing multiple pages without having to feed each through individually. The only downside is the cost, which is significantly higher than the simpler scanners in this roundup, but it’s worth it if you need to have the ability to print as well as scan when you’re on the road.
Best Mouse Scanner: IRIScan Executive Mouse 2
This is just about as small and portable as a scanner can get, and if you already carry a computer mouse with you when you travel, it adds absolutely no extra weight or bulk to your bag. The IRIScan Executive Mouse 2 incorporates a fully featured scanner into a fully functional mouse, so when you’re not scanning documents you can use it to control your desktop or laptop as well. It can scan documents up to A4 size and is ideal for scanning documents that would be difficult to scan with a traditional scanner. Another advantage of this design is that you can use it to capture a smaller portion of a document, such as a single quote from a book or a particular article from a newspaper.
The absolute best portable scanner for most purposes is certainly the Canon ImageFormula R10 (view at Canon). It’s a remarkably well-rounded device that is capable of providing high-quality scans at a high rate of speed by utilizing its automated feeder. This portable scanner certainly lives up to Canon’s excellent reputation for high-end imaging products.
If your top priority is portability though, you may want to consider a more unusual device. The IRIScan Executive Mouse 2 (view at Amazon) offers a compelling hybrid between a scanner and a mouse. Its small size and dual functionality give it a big advantage over larger, bulkier portable scanners. It’s the sort of tool that you could easily pack along while traveling for business, even if there’s a chance you might not need it, but you want to be able to scan an important document should the need arise.
What to Look for in a Portable Scanner
Resolution when scanning and printing is typically measured in terms of dpi (dots per inch). 300 dpi is the baseline resolution you should expect from any scanner, though some scanners are capable of as much as 1,200 dpi. The more resolution, the higher the detail in the scan, though higher dpi results in larger file sizes and can mean longer scanning times.
When choosing a scanner, it’s important to keep in mind which devices you plan to connect to it, if any. Some scanners have only USB connections and are generally only compatible with PC and Mac computers. Others feature Wi-Fi and can often be connected to mobile devices instead of computers. Some are designed to function without the need to connect to another device at all with onboard memory for storage.
A wall outlet may not always be available or convenient, especially when you’re traveling. Look for portable scanners that draw their power via USB from your PC or are powered by a rechargeable battery.
How fast are scanners?
Speed varies based on the quality of the scan, the size of the document, and the type of scanner. For a larger 8 x 10 document, five seconds is good, less for smaller documents. If the printer has an automated feeder, it will go faster as it won’t be delayed by the time it takes for you to manually feed documents into it.
Do I need a handheld or sheet-fed scanner?
Handheld and sheet-fed scanners can fulfill many of the same functions, but both excel in different areas. Sheet-fed scanners are fast and automatic, ideal for scanning single sheet documents, business cards, and other such media. Handheld scanners are slower and require more effort, but make up for this with their ability to scan awkward and bulky objects that wouldn’t be compatible with a sheet-fed printer.
How much do portable scanners cost?
Expect to pay between $60 and $200 for a high-quality scanner. If you want printing capability as well, expect the cost to go up significantly, particularly in a portable device.
Meet the Expert
Andy Zahn has over a decade of experience writing about technology, consumer products, and more. His work has appeared in Lifewire, Seattle Backpackers Magazine, and more.