Published on July 31st, 2013 | by Greg0
Scandock: Great Scans, With Your Smartphone
If you scan a lot of documents, you’ve probably pondered their flaws. Flatbed scanners are great, unless you want to keep a document flat, or are working with something glossy, or want even lighting. Automatic document feeders are great, like the one in any multi-function printer, unless you are working with any size or type of paper that isn’t typical or don’t have a computer available. Both have other drawbacks as well- they can render your documents fairly well but pictures and graphics often lose something in the reproduction.
That’s why the Scandock was invented- a true alternative to the other options on the market, and a natural descendant of the heavy-duty scanners called BookDrive that companies like Google use for mass digitization. Those scanners can cost over $10000, but Atiz, the firm behind them, has created a new and unique sort of scanner that relies on some sleek hardware to give your smartphone a major imaging upgrade and turn it into an instant high-quality scanning machine. Originally a Kickstarter project, they were successfully funded last year and we’ve been looking forward to checking out this new take on scanning.
They call it the “post-PC” scanner, and that’s an interesting marketing angle. For the most part, we still want to utilize computer applications with our scans, whether we’re trying to use Photoshop on a picture or work in Adobe Acrobat for a document PDF. But if you’re the kind who wants to quickly send out scans from your phone, there really is no better option out there. And even if you do need them later, you can get your scans easily into the cloud, and the quality is truly top-notch, far better than we expected from our smartphone. Part of the secret is the nifty, futuristic-looking unit which basically consists of a dock for your phone, four special lights, and an excellent flatbed surface that’s slightly adhesive to ensure that even folded documents can stay flat for your scans. Build quality is great, though the unit is fairly large and bulky.
The other part is the app, freely available for both iOS and Android devices. The dock can hold most smartphones; we used primarily an iPhone 5 for testing. Simply download the Scandock application and you can choose between either single-document or a unique multi-document mode. This could be a killer app, since it allows you to put your various business cards or receipts on the scanning tray and then the app will magically identify, crop, and separate up to 10 items in a single shot. Of course, most document scanners offer OCR technologies, which take the text that you scan and create editable forms, but you are limited with the Scandock to non-searchable PDFs. Using the app does take some getting used to- it was a little awkward and poorly-explained, and was quite slow with some operations, taking more than a minute to process at times.
Scan quality, though, was impressive- their pictures say it all. We didn’t face issues with glossy reflections, and appreciated the color correction options. The Scandock app does a fantastic job of creating professional-quality, accurate scans with great contrast, true blacks and sharp whites. For text, results were more mixed, and if your primary need is limited to text scanning, we’d suggest looking more towards a model like the excellent Fujitsu Scansnap or the portable, sleek Doxie One. Everyone in need of a mixed-use flatbed scanner should consider the Scandock, available now for around $400.