Fully wireless scanning
A big hit at the Consumer Electronics Show last month was the Xerox Mobile, a battery-powered scanner that transfers documents wirelessly to a computer or tablet. I’ve been hankering for an unobtrusive scanner to use at my desk and in the field, so I decided to look into this one.
I soon discovered that there was an alternative. The Visioneer Mobility is the same as the Xerox Mobile minus wifi*. Right now the street price on a Visioneer MobilIty scanner plus an Eye-Fi Connect X2 4GB is about $40 less than the Xerox Mobile ($245). Being cheap, I went with the Visioneer.
Whether you have the unified model or my two-piece package, it helps to think of this as a two items: a scanner and an Eye-Fi card. Otherwise, setup can be a hassle (It’s not very intuitive). Set up the Eye-Fi card first. No setup is required for the scanner unless you want to use their software.
The Eye-Fi card was originally aimed at digital cameras and only transfers JPG files wirelessly. You need to plug the card into a computer to transfer PDF files. The biggest advantage of the Xerox Mobile is that has a special Eye-Fi card and CAN wirelessly transfer PDFs. That alone may be worth $40 to you.
If you want to save scans onto an iPad, you need the Eye-Fi app. You’re going to make a direct wifi connection between the card and the iPad, so you don’t need another wifi connection. You can use it anywhere: classroom, office, or library – in the field or lab – while traveling or conducting research. Here’s how you scan to the iPad:
- Scan the image. The Eye-Fi card turns on when it has a new file to share.
- In the iPad’s network settings, connect to the Eye-Fi card
- Open the Eye-Fi app and wait for the image.
The scanner itself is just what I was looking for: small, no wires, and easy to use. It scans at 300 dpi, which is fine for most purposes. The device only comes with Windows software, but that is not an issue for me. The files transfer to a Mac and open just fine; I have other software I can use to work with the scans.
If you don’t need wireless file transfer, you can plug a normal SD memory card into the device or use a flash drive. That last option makes this a great scanner for sharing in a classroom. Here are some items a college professor might scan:
- Student writing sample or math work
- Completed worksheet or lab report
- Consent form or release
- Historic artifact or official certificate
- Handwritten letter or notes
- Business card or political mailer
- Newspaper article or editorial cartoon
- Sheet music or a drawing
- Old postcard or photo
- Receipt, invoice, or ticket
- Descriptive flyer or map
- Product spec sheet or instructions
It’s important to note that this is a sheetfeed scanner. You feed a single sheet paper into a slot on one side, then it is drawn through and comes out the other. You can’t use it to scan a page from a book or magazine, and some places will not let you feed certain documents through them – the pressure can be detrimental. You will still need to use a flatbed scanner or a digital camera on some occasions.