Best Portable Scanners

Updated August 2019
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
Bottom Line
Pros
Cons
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

14 Models Considered
6 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
193 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
We may earn a commission if you purchase a product through our links.

Buying guide for best portable scanners

Last Updated August 2019

With so much of our lives lived online and on computers, phones, and tablets, it's never been more important to have an easy way to transfer paper documents to digital devices. A portable scanner can help you do this without taking up too much space or being fixed to one location.

If you know you want a portable scanner but are stuck trying to find a quality model, or you’re still unsure if a portable scanner is right for you, the team at BestReviews can help you find the answers you need. Read on for our full guide to portable scanners. If you’re ready to buy, check out our recommendations to see which portable scanners we think stand out from the rest.

If you regularly scan two-sided documents, choose a portable scanner that can scan both sides at once – a huge time-saver.

Key considerations

What do you use a portable scanner for? And why would you want one instead of a desktop scanner? These are just some of the benefits of owning a portable scanner:

Versatile: Portable scanners are perfect for all kinds of scanning tasks, from documents to photos to receipts.

Bluetooth connectivity: If your portable scanner connects via Bluetooth rather than a USB cable, you can scan documents straight to your tablet or smartphone.

WiFi delivery: Portable scanners with built-in WiFi can deliver photos straight to the cloud service of your choice.

Compact: You can use a portable scanner anywhere, since they're small and light enough to carry around.

Handy: Portable scanners are great for freelancers or those who don't work in an office because you can use one at home, in a coffee shop, in a shared workspace, or anywhere else you might be getting some business done.

 

Versatile and speedy

Weighing in at just 14 ounces, the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 is light enough to take anywhere. The maximum 600 dpi resolution means you can capture every detail when scanning in photos. OCR technology lets you create searchable PDFs and editable Word and Excel documents from written documents.

Portable scanner features

Size and weight

For a scanner to be truly portable, it must be compact and light so you can easily carry it around. Some options marketed as “portable” might be more compact than desktop models, but they're still too heavy and bulky to toss in a bag or briefcase and tote around all day. The most compact models weigh less than a pound and measure less than a foot across.

Connectivity

The level of connectivity you require will depend on how you intend to use your portable scanner. If you want to scan documents or photos straight to the cloud, your chosen model must have WiFi capabilities. If you want to scan to your phone or laptop, choose a portable scanner that can connect via Bluetooth.

Power

Battery: Some portable scanners are battery powered, which is useful if you want one you can use absolutely anywhere without worrying if you're near an outlet. If you choose a battery-powered option, check the total battery life.

USB: It's also nice to have an alternative backup power source in case the battery runs out of juice. Other portable scanners are powered by a USB cable plugged into a laptop or desktop computer, which is fine if you only need to scan straight to a computer, but it isn't ideal for those who want more freedom.

Mains: The last of the common power options is standard mains power. Although you'll never need to worry about how long your battery will last, it's no use if you need to scan documents somewhere without access to an outlet.

Consider the scanning speed of your chosen portable scanner. The more documents you want to scan at one time, the more important it is to be able to scan quickly.

Storage

Some portable scanners save images directly to an SD card or internal storage. You can then later transfer the documents to your computer. This is a great option if you want to be able to scan images anywhere – even when you don’t have your computer with you – but you ultimately want to put the scans on your laptop or PC rather than a smart device or cloud storage. If you choose a model with internal storage, check how much is included and whether it’s sufficient to meet your needs. If you choose a model that takes an SD card, check whether it's included or you need to purchase it separately.

Resolution

The resolution, measured in dots per inch (dpi) is the quality of the documents scanned by the  portable scanner. You don't need to worry too much about resolution if you'll only be scanning text documents, but if you want to scan photos, we'd recommend a minimum resolution of 450 dpi. Ideally, 600 dpi or more is better, particularly if you want to enlarge the scanned image.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some portable scanners can upload scanned documents straight to popular cloud services, such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

Portable scanner prices

Inexpensive: We found some extremely basic portable scanners for as little as $30 to $50. However, these don't tend to be especially reliable and may not give great results. If you can afford it, we'd recommend spending a little more.

Mid-range: You can find some excellent options around the $60 to $100 mark. These might not have all the features of a more expensive model, but they're perfectly functional.

Expensive: Expect to pay between $100 and $300 for a high-end portable scanner. As a rule, the more you pay, the more features you'll receive, such as an automatic feeder and WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity.

Scan on the go

Since the Brother mobile scanner is powered by USB, you can plug it into your laptop – no outlet required. While it doesn't have WiFi capabilities, it's great for users who want to scan straight to a computer. The 600 dpi resolution is enough to scan photos without losing detail.

Tips

  • Do you need an automatic document feeder? Some portable scanners come with an automatic document feeder (ADF), while others require you to manually feed in each sheet. If you'll be scanning a large number of documents at once, opt for the automatic feeder.
  • Do you need to scan offline? Some WiFi-compatible portable scanners don't give you the option to scan while offline, which can be frustrating.
  • Do you need to scan searchable and editable documents? Portable scanners with older technology scan documents as images only, meaning you can't edit them or search them. However, newer OCR technology can scan documents as editable Word files or searchable PDFs.
  • Do you need compatibility with particular devices? Check that your chosen portable scanner is compatible with your devices. Wireless options should work with both Android and Apple devices, but wired models may have limited compatibility.
EXPERT TIP

If you want to work with photos or color documents, check that your chosen scanner can scan in color, not just black and white.


Staff  | BestReviews

Other products we considered

Our product matrix features our top five portable scanners, but there are some other excellent options that almost made the list. These are some of the other products we considered that we think are worth a look. Take the Doxie Go SE Portable Scanner. This compact, self-contained device can scan up to 400 pages on a single charge with no need for a computer. Choose between WiFi and no WiFi, sheetfed and ADF. What makes the Iris USA IRISCan Anywhere 5 Portable Scanner stand out from the crowd is the little color screen on the body that lets you preview documents. It can scan onto an SD card or straight to the cloud and features an impressive maximum 1,200 dpi. Finally, we love the Brother DS-620 Mobile Color Page Scanner for its cheap and cheerful approach to portable scanning. It might not have the wide range of features that some more expensive models have, but it's affordable and made by a well-respected brand, which goes a long way. An excellent option if you don't need anything too fancy.

Think about the size of the documents you want to scan and check that your portable scanner can accommodate them.

FAQ

Q. Can portable scanners scan smaller items, such as business cards and receipts?
A. 
That depends on the model you choose. Some don't manage smaller items particularly effectively, but others feature special slots or accessories to help scan small documents.


Q. Are portable scanners loud?
A. 
The vast majority of portable scanners are extremely quiet, much quieter than desktop scanners.
 

Q. What type of batteries do battery-powered portable scanners use?
A.
Most use built-in batteries that require recharging by plugging the included charger into the unit. Others use AA or AAA batteries, either rechargeable or standard.

The team that worked on this review
  • Bronwyn
    Bronwyn
    Editor
  • Eliza
    Eliza
    Production Manager
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Lauren
    Lauren
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor
  • Steph
    Steph
    Web Producer

BestReviews wants to be better. Please take our 3-minute survey,
and give us feedback about your visit today.

Take Survey