Portable Scanner Wands: 5 Benefits of Handheld Image Capture

When you need a compact, lightweight device that doesn't skimp on image quality, these are the scanner features to look for.

No matter how hard you try, smartphones just don't cut it when it comes to scanning on the go. Natural shadows can obscure important information, and low quality images can make it hard to read the fine print. Enter the portable scanner, a device that unlocks high quality scans no matter where you are. Whether you're in the market for a truly handheld portable scanner wand or just a compact scanner that you can stash in your carry bag, here are the features and benefits you should look for in your new device.

Need to brush up on portable scanning fundamentals? Check out our helpful guide, "Portable Scanners: What You Need to Know to Scan on the Go"

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What is a portable scanner wand?

A portable scanner wand is a device that you wave over the document you want to scan instead of feeding the document through a stationary machine. Those in the market for a portable scanner wand typically prioritize lightweight and compact design, but mobility shouldn’t come at the expense of scan quality. Even though they can be manipulated and moved around easily, many fully handheld scanner wands don’t deliver reliable image quality. That’s why it’s very important to look for a scanner that balances both portability and functionality while also delivering accurate, legible scans.

5 benefits of portable scanners

Whether you end up with a moveable wand or just an extremely lightweight scanning device, here are the top five features you should look for:

#1: Lightweight & compact

Size is the first box a portable scanner must check. The dimensions of the device itself are important, but so is the total footprint of the scanning area. For example, are you moving a scanner wand over the document in question, or loading a stack of papers in a feed tray? Device weight goes hand in hand with size, since you’ll want to be able to take your portable scanner with you wherever you go. Make sure the scanner you choose is light enough to put in your briefcase or backpack without weighing you down.

Did You Know? PCMagazine described the ScanSnap iX100 "one of the most impressive portable document scanners we've ever seen." Click here to read the full review.

#2: Simple scanning

Because portable scanners are designed to be small and lightweight, they should be sturdy enough to get the job done, scanning high quality images and transferring them directly to your file storage of choice. Software can go a long way toward this goal — scan management and cloud connection programs, for example, make it easy to turn that one-touch experience into a robust and secure workflow. That way when you’re back at your desk, you’ll have a whole suite of helpful tools waiting for you even though you only needed one button during the scanning process.

#3: Easy to use

What’s the point of owning a portable scanner if the process of using it is cumbersome and difficult? The device you choose should let you scan documents of all shapes and sizes as easily as possible. If you’re working with smaller items like receipts or business cards, the ability to process multiple documents at the same time will help you complete your scan job faster. For documents larger than a standard letter-size sheet of paper, look for page stitching functionality that will automatically turn two or more partial scans into a complete, full-size image. From a productivity point of view, features like continuous scanning or feeding can detect when one scan is complete and the next one is beginning, even as you move from document to document or page to page.

Did You Know? ScanSnap scanners specialize in versatility and ease-of-use at an affordable price. Click here to learn more.

#4: Wireless connectivity

Size and weight are the key components of portability, but wirelessness is another critical feature. If your scanner is easy to carry and pack but needs to be plugged into the wall or to your computer in order to work, its portability is severely limited. Look for powerful features that keep your portable scanner completely wireless, like:

  • Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities: Your scanner should connect immediately to the internet and your devices, plus remember past configurations so it can reconnect automatically.
  • Rechargeable battery: True portability requires a power source on the go. Look for options like lithium battery packs that are reliable and rechargeable without hassle.
  • Direct-to-cloud scanning: Scanners that connect directly to popular cloud services allow you to leave your computer, laptop, tablet, or even your phone behind.

#5: Image quality

Last but certainly not least, you should never have to sacrifice scan quality for the sake of mobility. Make sure that your portable scanner supports scanning in both color and black and white, and that it has the processing power to enhance images on the fly, delivering crisp, legible, high quality scans of everything from bold graphics to fine print. Another pitfall here is the temptation to trade speed for quality; scanning technology has come a long way, so you should be able to expect your portable scanner to deliver top quality results at high speeds.

Our recommendation: ScanSnap iX100

We know you have no shortage of options when it comes to choosing a home document scanner. We pride ourselves on having spent the last 50+ years designing and developing some of the most beloved electronics in the world, including our line of award-winning, easy to use, one touch ScanSnap scanners.

The ScanSnap iX100 is a powerful portable scanner in a dramatically compact size. Even though it’s not a handheld wand, the ScanSnap iX100 weighs in at 14.1 ounces and is just 10.74" by 1.87" by 1.42". Powered by a rechargeable lithium battery and equipped with USB and WiFi connectivity, the ScanSnap iX100 is a perfect device for scanning on the go. Scan color documents in just 5.6 seconds, use Dual Scan for multiple small documents at the same time, and process oversized documents with automatic image stitching. The built-in GI microprocessor promises the highest image quality, despite the iX100’s compact size. The ScanSnap iX100 also comes with a full suite of scanning software, so all you need to do is touch one button on the go. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of ScanSnap scanners.