Okay, I must admit when I first heard about the Docupen, I thought it was a combination scanner/pen, and I couldn’t possibly conceive what I would ever do with it. But they offered to send me one to try out, so I figured I’d give it a shot. As a pen, it performed quite poorly (probably since there is no pen involved), but as a scanner, it’s worth a little look.
The device is about 8″ long, and about a 1/2″ thick, comes with a leather (pleather?) carrying case, a USB cable, and software. It has a built-in lithium-ion battery that nicely charges over USB and according to documentation should last a couple of hundred scans a time, which is more than plenty! It has a single button which is used for both scanning and synchronizing files with the PC, and is basically designed to let you carry around a black and white scanner in your laptop case with no noticeable weight difference.
Using the Docupen
Really easy. Position your piece of paper (“the target”), place the Docupen at the top. It has but one button. Push it, and slowly pull the Docupen down. Stopping motion stops the scanning activity. That’s it. While scanning an eerie green light appears beneath the pen, and some of the 4 status LEDs will light up.
Advanced use: push the button twice, and it’ll scan in higher-resolution (200dpi instead of default 100dpi). Personally, I didn’t really see much difference in the two, but your results may vary.
Here’s where it gets tricky… You have to get good at your timing. If you go too fast, the content will appear a little ‘shrunken’. If you go too slow, it’ll get stretched the red LED flashed when you go too fast/slow). If you tilt left or right, it’ll get a bit swirly. Once you’ve practiced a bit, it gets fairly easy, although I recommend having a ‘vertical guide’ while scanning. Here are a few sample scans:
This next one was an intentionally extremely messed up scan: Reviewing the scans
After scanning, the next key step is getting the photos into the PC. This is where I became a little disenchanted with the product. The USB cable is non-standard, which means you need to keep it with you. I always have a standard USB cable in my laptop case, it works to charge my PPC-6700 phone, gets pictures off my camera, and connects to my 40GB portable hard drive. I really do not like having to carry one extra cable just for this purpose.
Next, the Docupen requires drivers and software installations on my PC. I was really hoping it would work as a standard USB Flash Drive so I could simply drag and drop files out of the memory. Instead it actually operates as a TWAIN device. This is a plus for users of OCR and other scanning software, but a minus for quick and dirty operations.
The bigger minus is that you MUST use the Paperport software (provided on CD), not just anything with scanner drivers (like Photoshop). This meant I had to figure out things like “calibration” (which I skipped) and exporting out of Paperport. I really didn’t like the Paperport application at all, it felt like I was installing something designed for Windows 95. Sure enough, the uninstall did NOT work properly and I had to use another application just to get rid of it! While this isn’t really Docupen’s fault, they did choose to bundle the application, and I hope that changes moving forward.
Overall, Docupen did a decent job at providing a very mobile scanning experience. Frankly, I would like to have a mini-printer to go along with it! The company just launched a new color version, which should probably be considered when you are making a purchasing decision.
- Very easy to use
- Acceptable quality level of all scans
- USB-based charging
- TWAIN-compatibility for scanning software
- Good battery life
- Portable, portable, portable
- Proprietary USB cable
- No USB Flash access
- Awful third-party software
Who should buy it:
- Mobile professionals who need way to scan documents while on the road.