Person using portable scanner

The Best Portable Scanners of 2021

By Marvin Moreno Accessories

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One of the challenges of working from the road is when the modern digital world intersects with the traditional physical one. While a lot can be done with a laptop these days, boring business tasks like scanning documents remains a challenge. Relying on print shops or business centers isn’t always convenient or cheap, and while you can use your phone in a pinch, the end result just isn’t as good.

If you find yourself needing to scan documents regularly, you’re better off investing in a portable scanner. These light, compact devices allow you to digitize documents and photos on the go. Most are battery-powered, and they can often transfer files directly to your smartphone.

Just like choosing a portable monitor or printer, though, the big differences in specs and features between portable scanner models can make the process challenging. That’s why we’ve put together our recommendations for the best scanners you can buy to complete your mobile office setup in a variety of situations.

Best Portable Scanner: EPSON Workforce ES-300W
  • Dimensions: 11.3 x 3.5 x 2.6 inches
  • Weight: 2.9 pounds
  • Max Resolution: 600 dpi
  • Automatic Document Feeder: 20 pages
  • Output: USB, Wi-Fi

Best Portable Photo Scanner: ClearClick Photo Scanner
  • Dimensions: 11.2 x 2.0 x 1.7 inches
  • Weight: 0.8 pounds
  • Max Resolution: 1200 dpi
  • Automatic Document Feeder: 1 page
  • Output: USB, microSD

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Best Portable Document Scanner: Epson DS-80W
  • Dimensions: 10.7 x 1.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Weight: 0.7 pounds
  • Max Resolution: 600 dpi
  • Automatic Document Feeder: 1 page
  • Output: USB, Wi-Fi

Best Portable Scanner Printer Combination: HP OfficeJet 250
  • Dimensions: 15.0 x 7.8 x 3.6 inches
  • Weight: 6.5 pounds
  • Max Resolution: 600 dpi
  • Automatic Document Feeder: 10 pages
  • Output: USB, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth

Best Portable Book Scanner: CZUR Aura-B
  • Dimensions: 17.4 x 7.1 x 5.1 inches
  • Weight: 3.3 pounds
  • Max Resolution: 300 dpi
  • Automatic Document Feeder: n/a
  • Output: USB

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Best Budget Portable Scanner: Brother DS-740D
  • Dimensions: 11.9 x 2.5 x 1.8 inches
  • Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Max Resolution: 600 dpi
  • Automatic Document Feeder: 10 pages
  • Output: USB

Best Portable Scanner: EPSON Workforce ES-300W

Epson WorkForce ES-300W Wireless Color Portable Document Scanner with ADF for PC and Mac, Sheet-fed and Duplex Scanning

The Epson Workforce ES-300W is everything you’ll ever want in a portable scanner, with impressive speed and portability and resolution high enough to handle most business requirements.

This powerhouse scans up to 25 pages per minute, a rate that few other portable scanners can match. Combined with a 20-page automatic document feeder that works in duplex mode, this is one of the fastest scanners in its class, letting you power through a large number of documents quickly and efficiently.

The scanner’s 600 dpi resolution is enough to scan photos with acceptable quality, and it has a card slot that accepts thicker media like credit cards or ID cards. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) using the bundled ABBYY software can automatically convert documents into an editable and searchable PDF. 

Portability-wise, the ES-300W is a little bulky compared to some of the other models on this list, due mainly to that automatic document feeder. On the upside, it’s flexible when it comes to power and connectivity. You can charge the internal battery via either the AC adapter or USB 3.0 cable, and either plug the scanner directly into your computer over USB or connect wirelessly from your phone, tablet, or computer

The only caveat with the ES-300W is that the Epson Scan bundled software isn’t up to par. Most of its features are unpolished, it has poor OCR output, and simple scanning tasks can be annoyingly difficult to do. Thankfully, you have the included ABBYY software that’s easier to use and delivers better OCR, but it’s still a surprising misstep from Epson.

The scanner also uses software to detect the edges of a page. That’s usually not a problem, but it can misfire and end scanning prematurely when it encounters pure black or white areas on the page.

Despite these minor flaws, though, the fast scanning speed, quality, and versatility still makes the Epson Workforce ES-300W our top portable scanner pick overall.

Pros
  • Fast scanning speed, with auto document feeder and duplex scanning
  • Flexible power and connectivity
  • Good resolution and OCR support
  • Dedicated card slot
Cons
  • Poor pre-installed software
  • Can have problems with page edge detection
  • Larger than other options
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Best Portable Photo Scanner: ClearClick Photo Scanner

ClearClick Portable Photo & Document Scanner - No Computer Required - Runs on AA Batteries or USB Power - 1.4' Instant Preview Screen

Focused mainly on scanning old photos? This ClearClick model is a compact portable device designed to digitize your photographs quickly and easily.

The advertised scanning resolution of up to 1200 DPI is higher than other portable scanners. The manufacturers don’t make clear whether that’s the optical (ie, hardware) or interpolated (software-enhanced) resolution, but it seems more likely to be the latter. The output of the ClearClick Photo Scanner still isn’t nearly as good as a flatbed scanner in practice, but the quality is good enough for most casual uses.

Other than its potentially higher resolution, this portable scanner has other features that make it suitable for photos. We like the small LCD screen, which lets you preview the scan before saving it. Speaking of saving, scanned images are transferred directly to an internal microSD card (not included), or you can send them to your Mac or Windows PC over instead.

The ClearClick Photo Scanner is powered via either 3 x AA batteries or a USB adapter. Unfortunately the scanner doesn’t ship with a USB wall charger, so you’ll have to buy one separately or use one you already have around the house. 

In general we’d still suggest using a good flatbed scanner for scanning photos if you can, since the quality will invariably be higher. If you need portability, however, this scanner is a useful and practical alternative.

Pros
  • 1200 DPI resolution
  • Small LCD screen to preview scans
  • Can scan directly to an SD card
  • Compact and portable
Cons
  • Resolution quality not as good as a flatbed scanner
  • No USB wall charger included
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Best Portable Document Scanner: Epson DS-80W

Epson DS-80W Document Scanner

The Epson DS-80W is the more portable and compact brother of our top pick, the ES-300W At 1.8 x 10.7 x 1.3 inches and under 11 ounces, this exceptionally light and tiny scanner is barely wider than the sheets of paper it’s scanning. 

Despite that small size, the DS-80W can still scan documents relatively fast, in as little as 4 seconds per page. OCR software is included, allowing this scanner to output searchable PDF files.

As expected with the smaller size, it can only accept one sheet at a time, so scanning large stacks of documents with it can be tedious. It’s really aimed at digitizing essential short documents on the go when you don’t have access to a desktop scanner with a feeder.

The scanner runs on either battery or USB power, and connects to your computer wirelessly or via the USB cable. It works with iOS and Android devices, so there’s no need to drag out your laptop just to quickly scan a document. The LCD screen is a nice touch, displaying wireless connection and battery level information.

The DS-80W does have a less expensive version, the ES-60W. Both have identical features, but the DS-80W has a three-year warranty. Given the price difference is usually relatively small, we believe that the longer warranty makes the DS-80W a better choice, but you can save a bit of money with the ES-60W if you’d prefer.

Pros
  • Very lightweight and portable
  • Versatile operation, including battery power and wireless connectivity
  • OCR support
Cons
  • No automatic document feeder
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Best Portable Scanner Printer Combination: HP OfficeJet 250

HP OfficeJet 250 All-in-One Portable Printer with Wireless & Mobile Printing, Works with Alexa (CZ992A), Black, Normal

The HP OfficeJet 250 is, hands down, the best mobile all-in-one document solution available. It’s a scanner, printer, and copier rolled into one portable package.

The scanner has a 10-page automatic document feeder, and can scan up to nine pages per minute for black and white and 3.6 pages per minute for color. That’s not the fastest on this list, so if super-quick scanning is important to you, you’ll need to look elsewhere. Fortunately, its other capabilities will likely make up for the slower speeds for most users.

The printing quality of the OfficeJet 250 is fantastic for a portable printer. It has better output than many desk-bound inkjets, which says a lot. It supports wireless connectivity (both Bluetooth and W-Fi) and has a rechargeable battery for portability so that you can use it without needing wires.

There’s a handy 2.65″ color touchscreen for controlling the device and viewing its current status, and the ability to print directly from a USB stick comes in very handy when you’re in a hurry. You can scan to iOS and Android mobile devices using the HP Smart app.

Unsurprisingly, the OfficeJet 250 is bulkier than dedicated portable scanners. It’s very reasonable for an all-in-one device, though, and is an unbeatable option for taking your office on the road.

Pros
  • Portable all-in-one solution with excellent printing quality
  • 10-page automatic document feeder
Cons
  • Bulky compared to scan-only options
  • Slower scanning speeds than dedicated devices
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Best Portable Book Scanner: CZUR Aura-B

CZUR Aura-B Book & Document Scanner, Auto-Flatten & Deskew Powered by AI Technology, Foldable & Portable, Capture Size A3, Compatible with Windows & Mac OS

The CZUR Aura-B is an excellent alternative for scanning things that can’t fit into or are too fragile for a scanner feeder, such as old documents, magazines, and books.

You simply lay the book or document below the Aura-B, and the three built-in lasers get to work. Using AI technology and a proprietary algorithm, the scanner software can digitally “flatten” the book by taking the page curvature into account. Scanning speed is roughly two seconds per page, which is impressive.

The Aura-B also doubles as a reading light when not in use, giving it added utility beyond just being a scanner. There’s an important caveat, though: at 300dpi, the scanned output isn’t as clear and accurate as some of the other portable scanners on this list, and the device isn’t as compact or portable either.

As a result, we’d recommend the CZUR Aura-B specifically for those who need to regularly scan things like books and magazines that typical portable scanners struggle with, rather than for general document scanning. It’s easier to use and has better output than most wand-type scanners, and gets the nod from us as a result.

Pros
  • Can scan books, magazines, and other difficult documents
  • Doubles as a reading light
Cons
  • Bulkier than other options
  • Output not as clear as other models
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Best Budget Portable Scanner: Brother DS-740D

Brother DS-740D Duplex Compact Mobile Document Scanner

The Brother DS-740D is one of the most inexpensive portable scanners you can buy, and at less than a foot long, one of the most compact on this list. It’s comparable in size to the Epson DS-80W mentioned above.

The DS-740D has a scanning speed of 16 pages per minute, coupled with duplex printing, OCR software support, and a dedicated slot for card scanning – all impressive features at that price point. The 600 dpi resolution also ensures decent quality output.

The biggest trade-off, and the one thing that limits the portability of the DS-740D, is the need to always have it plugged into your computer via USB when you’re using it. That’s because it doesn’t support wireless connections, nor does it have a built-in battery for standalone operation.

As a result, this scanner is only appropriate for laptop or desktop computer users, not those who want to scan to a mobile device. At such a low price, however, the DS-740D is still a steal for what it offers.

Pros
  • Low price
  • Compact size
  • Relatively fast scanning speed for the money
  • Supports duplex mode
Cons
  • No battery power, so you need to plug it via USB or AC outlet
  • No wireless connectivity
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Wrapping It Up

For the best portable option that combines features and performance, you won’t regret getting the Epson Workforce ES-300W. The 20-page automatic document feeder, duplex scanning, and fast 25 ppm speed put it at the top of our list.

If portability is the biggest concern, then the Epson DS-80W is the better choice for documents, while the ClearClick Photo Scanner works well for photos.

Budget-conscious entrepreneurs will find that the Brother DS-740D gives excellent value for money, and finally, if you’re looking for the best all-in-one solution for your mobile office, we highly recommend the HP OfficeJet 250 printer/scanner combination.


Main image via Shutterstock, product images via Amazon

About the Author
Marvin Moreno

Marvin Moreno

Marvin is a tech writer and email copywriter based in Manila. A former web developer turned wordsmith, his travel dreams include a month-long cross-country Japan trip, a ride on the Trans-Siberian Railway, and exploring Patagonia. He's also a craft beer brewer and can talk about alcohol all day.