Billed in the Guinness Book of Records as the world’s smallest scanner, the DocuPen has a lot to live up to. The length of an A4 piece of paper and the width of a standard HB pencil you can’t disagree on the size, but does that mean a lack of quality? Pocket-lint went undercover to find out.
Designed as a catcher of information, the concept is simple. To scan a page all you have to do is slowly run the scanner over the page that you need scanning. A series of LEDs will let you know whether you are going too fast and all in all it took us around five minutes to start getting decent scans from the unit. Planon, the makers of the DocuPen state that you should be able to scan a page in just four seconds, we preferred a slightly longer time making sure we actually captured all the information on the page. Plugging it in to a spare USB port on your PC allows you to transfer the information back to a dedicated program supplied in the box.
The quality isn’t great, in fact compared to standalone flatbed or feeder scanners it’s quite poor. The scanner has two capture modes - 100dpi and 200dpi, and will only work with PCs and only in black and white. To give you an idea your average flatbed can easily produce 1200dpi in colour without much effort. It’s not something you’re going to be rushing to reproduce on your best printer, but as a data catcher, as long as the page is flat it does the job quite nicely.
However it’s not all bad news. Because of a built-in battery that is charged via USB when you connect the unit to a PC, the unit is very portable. That combined with its size and shape - it is after all very sleek and slender - means that slipping it in a bag isn’t really an issue either.
Why bother then I hear you ask? Well with the ability to hold 100 A4 pages on the unit’s 2Mb flash memory, this unit makes for a great document catcher away from the PC. The R700 is supplied with OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software that allows you to turn your scans into word documents and filing your scans is very easy.
Depending on what you plan to do with the scans depends on what setting you opt for when scanning however in tests we found that if you plan to use the OCR software you can’t really scan less the 200dpi setting to guarantee the results.
The DocuPen is really just a portable photocopier that allows you to capture documents back to your computer when you are out an about. Results are okay, but nothing to write about.
Do you really need it then? Well it depends how much you find yourself having to grab documents when you are out and about that you can't simply make a copy of or borrow to throw into a cheaper, higher resolution flatbed scanner at home. Because of that we have to say that this seems a gadget for the sake of it, rather than being a must-have indispensable accessory for every computer user.