If you need a portable scanner, and can’t decide between a lightweight wand scanner and a somewhat bulkier, manual-feed scanner, take a look at the Ambir MobileScan Pro 100 . Like The Pandigital Portable Wand Scanner with Feeder Dock (PanScn09) that I reviewed earlier this year, the MobileScan Pro 100 is a wand scanner that can snap into a dock to let you manually feed pages. With or without the dock, it’s highly portable. And despite some shortcomings, it can be attractive choice.
As is typical for wand scanners, the MobileScan Pro 100 can scan without a computer, scanning to a microSD or microSDHC card instead. Like most wand scanners also, it lacks the Wi-Fi capability that earned the VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Wi-Fi PDSWF-ST44-VP Editors’ Choice. With the PDSWF-ST44-VP, you can connect to your smartphone or tablet by Wi-Fi to send scans to it, so you can check quality while you can still rescan if you need to. With the MobileScan Pro 100, you can’t see the scans until you get back to a computer.
The good news is that you won’t get poor scans very often. If you go too fast when you scan by hand, you’ll get an error message on the scanner’s LCD. This doesn’t guarentee good quality, but it cuts down on unpleasant surprises. Keep in mind too that the MobileScan Pro 100 shares this limitation with most wand scanners. To some extent, it’s the price you pay for the convenience of being able to scan without a computer.
Basics and Setup
Trying to describe all the different ways you can use the MobileScan Pro 100 is a challenge, because this scanner is nothing if not flexible.
In addition to its dock, it comes with a 4GB microSD card, a microSD card adaptor, a USB cable, and a customized version of the document management program Presto! PageManager 9.21. It also comes with three non-rechargeable AAA batteries for the scanner but no batteries for the dock, even though you can run the dock from six AA batteries if you like.
To use the scanner without a computer, you have two choices. For maximum portability, you can carry just the scanner, which weighs about 7 ounces. If you want the added convenience of a manual feed, you can mount it in the dock and add batteries to the dock, which brings the total weight to 1.5 pounds.
With either choice, scans get saved to the memory card. You can move them to your computer later, either using the microSD card adaptor or by connecting the scanner by USB cable and letting your computer recognize the memory card as a USB drive.
You can also scan directly to your computer. However, because Ambir doesn’t provide a general-purpose Twain or WIA driver, you’re limited to scanning to the version of PageManager that comes with the scanner. Here again, you have two choices. You can use the USB cable to connect the scanner itself to your computer, or you can put the scanner in the dock and plug the USB cable into the dock.
Note that you don’t need batteries for scanning to a computer. If you take the batteries out of the scanner and connect it directly, it will get all the power it needs over the USB cable. Similarly, if you put the scanner in the dock and connect the USB cable to the dock, both the dock and scanner will get power over the USB cable.
Setting up the scanner varies somewhat depending on how you plan to use it, but it’s simple enough in any case, with some combination of inserting the microSD card into the slot on the front of the scanner; inserting batteries into the scanner, dock, or both; installing PageManager on your computer; mounting the scanner in the dock; and connecting the USB cable.
Scanning with the MobileScan Pro 100 is also simple. When you’re scanning to a microSD card, you can set the resolution to 300, 600, or 900 pixels per inch (ppi), set the color mode to color or black and white, and set the file format to JPG or image PDF. When scanning directly to a PC, however, you’re limited to 300 ppi, color, and JPG format.
To use the scanner by itself, you position the scanner on a page, press the Scan button, then scan down or across the page. When you’re using the dock, you feed the page far enough for the rollers to grab on to it, and then let go of the page. Both choices work as promised, with the manual feed taking about 6 to 8 seconds for a page. The only issue I ran into when scanning by hand was at 900 ppi, where it’s easy to go too fast and get an error message, so you have to scan again.
Given the program the scanner comes with, the only two applications I could evaluate it for were optical character recognition (OCR) and document management. It didn’t score very well on either.
For OCR, the combination of the scanner and PageManager worked reasonably well at the narrow task of recognizing characters correctly. However, character spacing and other formatting issues were so far off the original at all scan resolutions that the results were essentially useless for editing. It doesn’t help either that PageManager won’t let you save multiple scanned pages into a single text file.
For document management, the lack of an automatic document feeder or the ability to duplex (scan both sides of a page at once) limit the maximum possible score, but note that PageManager can convert scanned files into searchable PDF format and put multiple scanned pages into one PDF file.
I also scanned some photos to get a sense of the scan quality, even though the scanner doesn’t come with any photo editing software. The results were roughly snapshot quality. However, it’s hard to roll the scanner over a 4-by-6 evenly as a wand scanner, which distorts the image somewhat. Keep in mind also that putting a photo through a sheet feeder, or even running rollers over it with wand scanning, can damage the original.
Much like the Pandigital Portable Wand Scanner with Feeder Dock (PanScn09), the Ambir MobileScan Pro 100 is a potentially useful tool for document scanning on the go, but it could be a lot more useful if it came with better OCR software. As with the Pandigital scanner, if you have to buy additional programs, you should add the extra cost to the price of the scanner to come up with the real price. That said, if you already own a program that can do a better job of recognizing text and can also combine multiple scanned files into a single text document, you may well consider the Ambir MobileScan Pro 100 a good value.
More Scanner Reviews:
|USB or FireWire Interface||USB|
|Automatic Document Feeder||No|
|Maximum Scan Area||Legal|
|Maximum Optical Resolution||900 pixels|
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc