A scanner the size of a pen

PLANon's portable scanner looks great - but its images don't.

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By Jeff Krall, FSB Magazine


(FSB Magazine) -- When I heard about the Docupen RC800, I thought it was a no-brainer. Trade in my flatbed scanner for one the size of a small cigar? Gladly! As the owner of American Roof Preservers (cedarcare.com), a firm that cleans and preserves cedar-shake roofs in Illinois, Indiana and Wisconsin, I could see using the DocuPen to scan documents or collect helpful news articles on the go.

Manufacturer PLANon Systems Solutions (planon.com) advertises the RC800 as a full-color scanner capable of recording 100 pages, each in as little as four seconds. I was excited to test it.

I removed the DocuPen from the box, loaded the bundled software CD onto my computer, and charged the pen for 50 minutes. Then I set DocuPen to scan at its highest resolution with full color, figuring that even though I was scanning a black-and-white document, I wanted the best possible quality. I set the scanner on the page, pushed the power button and rolled the pen toward the bottom.

About three-quarters of the way down the page, all the lights on the scanner began flashing, and it shut off. I repeated the test, but each time the results were the same. Oddly, the software help menu offered only technical specs on the software itself. (Later I realized that there was a second help menu in the separate Paperport document viewer - all a bit too complicated for my taste.)

Then I tried uploading. I connected the DocuPen to my PC with a USB cable and pushed a button. But midway through the upload, DocuPen lost its connection to the computer. I tried three different computers, with the same result.

I left a message with tech support and was pleased to get a call back within the hour. The technician told me to close out of the software and restart it. I'm not sure what that did, but it worked. He also confirmed that while the RC800 is a full-color scanner and can scan 100 pages, the two don't go together - in color it scans only about one page.

While I had the technician on the phone, I e-mailed him a PDF of my abortive scan. He confirmed its quality was appropriate. I was surprised. To me, it had the resolution of a garden-variety fax; I would hate to read 100 pages of such blurry type.

I set the DocuPen to black-and-white mode and scanned in 100 pages. At the bottom of each page, two lights blinked when the page had uploaded, and then the scanner shut off. I moved it to the top of the next page and repeated the process.

After I had finished 100 pages, I found that only 90 had been scanned; I'm not sure why that was, and I could find no mention of it in the manual. I also tried scanning a color page in full color. I found that the colors did reproduce accurately, but the image quality was only fair.

Bottom line: Given the image quality, minimal storage and technical glitches, I'll stick with my flatbed.  To top of page

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