High-speed desktop scanners are amazing – turning piles of paper, receipts and photos into digital bits that can stored anywhere, then retrieved as needed. Scanning also preserves those documents so they look just as good as the day they were scanned. Problem is that those desktop scanners just don’t travel well, so if you’re away from the office, you’re out of the scanning business.
The next generation way to scan
As one who scans a lot of documents, I was happy to discover a new portable device that far surpasses the other portable devices I’ve used to date. I’ve literally tried a half dozen scanners and while they did a passable job, only the Xcanex from Piqx Imaging has taken their scanner to the next level of sophistication. At under a half pound in weight, this is a definite “go-anywhere, do anything” scanner.
Most people I know satisfy their scanning needs by using the camera on their cellphone. That’s all well and good if it’s one business card now and again, but even those can be problematic. Most people don’t carry tripods for their cellphones, so there’s always a chance of blurring from movement. The other bigger issue is reflections from glossy cards or photos. Unless your light source is properly placed at 45 degrees to the scanning surface, you’re likely to get glare, making a portion of the card or photo unreadable.
That’s just one area where the USB-powered Xcanex has done a fantastic job by approaching scanning differently than everyone else out there. They’ve also worked an algorithm into their software that takes out-of-square images and digitally corrects them while scanning. Thirdly and equally impressive, if you need to use your fingertips to hold a page flat while scanning, Xcanex will digitally remove the tips of your fingers from the image before saving it. Stapled document? It makes those disappear too.
This isn’t rocket science…but it’s pretty darn close.
When you receive your Xcanex, you have two choices. It can mount to the side of your laptop with a small piece of Velcro and a stretch strap, or it has its own stand and can be placed alongside of your computer. There’s also a scanning pad that unfolds to place your scanning documents on.
Depending on your document, you’ll open the head of the device parallel to your page if not glossy, or at a slight angle if the page is glossy and reflective. The software will correct for the skewed image you’ll see if you are scanning at an angle. It can actually identify the corners of your page and will straighten all sides in the final scan.
Next, you can choose from a variety of sources and the software adapts automatically. Set it for individual random pages, books and magazines, business cards, document camera (yep, it acts as a higher res video camera) and as a webcam. It’s also important to set your page type properly – pages with white borders all the way around vs. those where the graphics or the photos “bleed” all the way to the edge.
In many of the modes, it will sense when you have placed a new document and will auto focus and take the scan without any human intervention. That makes it extremely efficient when scanning multi-page articles from magazines or books. There is also software that will automatically align your left and right pages across from each other to give a proper, double-wide page format for magazines and books.
For business cards, you can scan four at once. Once scanned, the cards are OCR’d and the data and image are placed in a business card organizer software program. From here they can be sorted or exported to a VCard file format. Plan to do some editing of business cards as all scanning software is only so intelligent. With the prevalence of graphically detailed business cards, there isn’t a software available anywhere that will interpret every field properly.
Xcanex uses Abby Fine Reader 10 for the OCR portion of the work and it works quite well for magazines and books – less so for business cards. Amazingly, the hardware will scan down to a font height of 1 mm, but OCR isn’t quite as advanced as the hardware. The 8 mega-pixel camera onboard is suitable for all but your highest resolution scanning needs. Even the finest detail in a business card is captured visually.
This scanner won’t be for everyone, but there’s nothing else to compare to its capabilities. If you do research or want to copy lots of data while on the road, you’ll certainly want to have one of these in your bag. Piqx Imaging offers a free 15-day trial, so you can be sure it’s right for you. Hands-on is certainly the best way to make sure it’s right for the work you do.
Active Pixel Count
Video Image Resolution
Document Camera Zoom
Video Recording Frame Rate
Dimension (without stand)
Weight (without stand)
8 Megapixels HD CMOS sensor
3264 x 2448
A4, Letter or smaller
Up to 300DPI
3264 x 2448, 1600 x 1200 (Document Camera)
1304 x 978, 640 x 480 (Video Recording)
Up to 20 fps (VGA)
USB 2.0 UVC
1x White LED
1x Custom Xenon Flash Module
208.6 x 63.2 x 18 mm
200 grams (7 oz)
Output File Formats
Windows 8, 7, XP, Vista
(Mac OS Support available End of 2013)
Auto Perspective Correction
Auto White Balance
Intelligent Text & Graphics Enhancement
Finger Image Removal
Image Noise Reduction
ABBYY FineReader 10 Engine
ABBYY BCR Engine
JPEG, BMP, Multi-Page Searchable PDF,TIFF,
MS-Word, RTF, PNG
Doug Bardwell, based in Cleveland, OH, writes about interesting new travel technology topics, across the country and around the world at DougBardwell.com. Feel free to drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org with suggestions for future products to be reviewed. If you've ever used one of the products he's reviewed, please leave your thoughts in the comment box below. To get his stories delivered to your inbox, click the RSS feed or the "Subscribe" button above or follow him on Facebook , Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+. To read Doug’s disclosure notice, click here.