PLANon DocuPen R800

Pocket sized scanners have been available on the market for some time now but they are often devices that scan a few words at a time, making full page documents or images impossible or difficult to capture. PLANon believe they have the solution to this problem with the DocuPen 800, but we shall see!

Specification

The R800 features a 24-bit colour scanner built in to the bottom section of this wand-shaped device. Covering the entire base of the scanner, you can pick up resolutions from 100 to 400 dpi in black and white or colour.On the device, you can select three settings with Black and White, 12-bit colour and 24-bit colour. With each of those settings you can also select low or high resolution options.Storage comes in the form of a built-in 8MB flash memory chip which I found fills up very quickly. Read on to find out just how quickly!

PLANon state that you can store 100’s of pages, this is only possible when you scan at the lowest resolution in black and white or if you expand the memory using a Micro SD card, which can be cleverly fitted and concealed inside of the R800. Scan using the maximum quality settings and you will only find room for one scan.

Inside of the R800 is a built in lithium ion battery which charges when you plug it in to the USB port of your computer.

Features

Dual rollers on the underneath of the scanner allows for an easy and smooth glide action as you run the scanner over the subject you’re trying to capture.Operation of the scanner is very simple with just two buttons for selecting the two categories of quality settings. The button on the left selects the colour mode you want to be in and the button on the right selects the quality of the scan. To initiate the scan all you have to do is place it on a flat surface and start to glide it down the page and you will see the light from the optics appear. If you scan it too quickly, the red cross will flash indicating you need to slow down.

The claimed 4 second scan per page is very ambitious because the rate that I was able to do a reasonable scan for an A4 document takes between 10 and 15 seconds. However the beauty of this device is that you can scan any size subject you want, anything from business cards to full A4 documents.

Software and an in-depth menu is included on the CD and both Windows Vista and Mac OS X are supported. Vista users should visit the PLANon site to get the latest drivers.What I don’t understand is why PLANon didn’t just include a driver for the DocuPen and then allow Windows or OS X to see it as a USB flash storage drive because the software application for file management just doesn’t cut it. It takes about four minutes to transfer a colour scan weighing in at 6MB. That’s an excruciatingly long time to be waiting for one document to download. The deleting process is just as bad, taking nearly as long to delete the file as it does to download it!You connect up the DocuPen using the supplied USB cable then power it up, at that point you click the button to download the scans and it prompts you to make sure that the device is powered up (because by the time you get to this point and click OK, the DocuPen has already powered down). So you have to power it up again before it starts to download, but even when using only the 8MB of on board memory to download a 6MB scan, it took over four minutes to complete.

Included in the box is a leather case which includes a belt clip, but to be blunt, I would never want to be carrying this thing on my belt or leave it on my desk in plain view, it’s simply not a cool device when it comes to designer chic gear.ConclusionHardware is only half the story, and whilst the R800 is very simple and effective at what it does, it only makes up for half the story with the poor driver and application support.Concept wise it’s perfect, it’s what people prefer to have over the alternatives available on the market, and since this is a unique product it should not be an excuse to lapse in software support.

On board memory at 8MB is not nearly enough storage considering the cost of this device, rendering it unusable unless the owner has a spare Micro SD card or is prepared to fork out more money. I expect to see at least 32MB if not more flash memory integrated for some decent number of scans but you can’t even get by with what’s included.With a ticket price of £200 for a mobile scanner, when compared against the cost of a flatbed scanner that lives in your office costing as little as £20 and is able to deliver better results, you have to question whether you really need to have a mobile scanner or whether its easier to just snap the document using a decent camera phone or wait until you get back to the office to do a proper scan.

2007-09-12 Onwah Tsang

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