How to choose your portable scanner

Portable scanners are very small devices that allow you to scan business documents and images. Here's how to choose the perfect one

Technological advancement has led many devices to become much smaller so that they can easily be carried inside your bag. Just think of cell phones, which in recent years have decreased in size, improving and adding new features.

Another device that has become much smaller than in the past is the scanner. A tool that has almost disappeared from the desks of Italians, it is still widely used inside offices. Despite being replaced by smartphone apps, some nostalgic people are still looking for a scanner to use in times of need. But if you don't have the space to put the scanner on your desk at home, don't despair. You can always purchase a portable scanner. Just a little larger than a pen, the portable scanner allows you to scan documents and images and transfer them to your computer.

There are hundreds of them on the market and choosing the portable scanner that best suits your needs is not easy. You have to take into account several features: the model, size, resolution and scanning speed, what sheet size it supports and whether it connects to your home Wi-Fi line. Here's everything you need to know before buying a portable scanner.

How a portable scanner works

Before going through the features to consider when choosing a portable scanner, you need to understand how these devices work. To use them you don't need to connect them to your PC: just turn them on, swipe them over the document and immediately the file will be saved inside the microSD card present in the portable scanner. To process the saved document and read it from the computer you need to use an OCR software, usually provided with the scanner.

Which portable scanner to choose

Scanners are divided mainly into two categories: flatbed and sheetfed. Flatbed scanners are the classic scanners found on office desks: they have a cover and a glass tray where the document to be scanned can be placed. Sheetfeds, on the other hand, are the real portable scanners. They have very small dimensions and have an automatic or manual loader. There are, however, also portable flatbed scanners, which have a very compact shape. But if you want to buy a portable scanner, you will always have to choose a sheetfed device.


Portable scanners vary depending on the model. But they are all very lightweight and can be carried easily in your bag. Before buying one, however, it is advisable to check the weight and size.

Scanner Resolution and Speed

The resolution is related to the quality of scanning that the portable scanner can offer. Among the features to consider before buying the portable scanner, resolution is one of the most important. The resolution is expressed in DPI (dots per inch): the higher it is, the higher the quality of the scan. Usually portable scanners offer three different options for scanning: 300 DPI, 600 DPI and 1200 DPI. The speed, on the other hand, is related to the number of pages the portable scanner can scan in one minute.

Sheet Size

All portable scanners support sheets of A4 size and smaller. If you need to scan larger sheets, you will have to look for portable scanners that offer this feature.


Documents scanned by the portable scanner need to be processed by an OCR program to make them editable by the computer. Usually, the companies themselves offer users OCR software, but this is not always the case. In fact, in some cases the program is only free for 30 days, after which you'll have to buy it. If you don't want to spend money, you can use free software developed by third parties.


The latest portable scanners also support Wi-Fi. If you need to share scanned pages with your smartphone and tablet, having Wi-Fi support is essential. The portable scanner will cost a little more, but the file transfer will be much faster.


Some portable scanners also have a small screen with which you can set options for scanning. Moreover, thanks to the display you will also be able to understand the quality with which you are scanning the documents.