HARRY POTTER'S SCANNER

We took a look at the latest version of DocuPen, and as the Beatles song puts it, it’s getting better all the time.

Eight inches long and a half-inch wide, this magic wand weighs less than 2 ounces and can be used to scan more than 100 pages of text if you move it steadily across each page. It does not need to be connected to a computer. A tiny red warning light on the top of the wand tells you if you are moving the DocuPen too fast. This is very important because you do have to get into a habit of using a steady hand or you’re going to have a lot of trouble reading what you get.

Other indicator lights on top of the DocuPen let you select changes in resolution and color. Two control buttons allow you to toggle between high resolution or not, color scanning or not and 32-bit, high-quality color scanning.

Docupen What you want to use depends on what’s important to you in the scan. If the color pictures are what’s important, then obviously you would go to high resolution and 32-bit color. If it’s text that matters, you can go right to monochrome, which is just black-and-white.

If you scan in high-resolution color, the DocuPen can hold only about two pages in its 8 MB (megabytes) of memory. If you scan in black-and-white, the DocuPen can hold 100 to several hundred pages, depending on the resolution you select. The default scanning resolution is 100 pixels per inch (ppi); high-resolution scanning is 400 ppi.

The choice of resolution matters a great deal if you are going to move the scanned text into an OCR (optical character recognition) program that will actually “read” the scanned words so they can be edited. If a page is regular black type on a clean white background, low-resolution scanning is usually sufficient. If the pages are faded or the type is an unusual design, then you would need high resolution. The DocuPens come with either PaperPort OCR software, which works fine, or Abbyy Fine Reader, which works even better.

The Docupen  we worked with is model RC 800. It has a list price of $300, and we found it for $280 at AmazonPlanon, the manufacturer’s Web site, recommends using a 1 gigabyte Transflash card from SanDisk to increase the capacity of the DocuPen to scan hundreds of pages. This extra memory comes with the DocuPen if you buy the $400 executive kit. But we found this memory card selling for less than $10 at Amazon andother discounters, marked down from $80. Flash memory is getting incredibly cheap. 

 

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