No computer required: The Doxie Go portable document scanner reviewed

August 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Every thing you Need to Know

The Doxie go portable document scanner. Andrew Cunningham

One thing that struck me when I covered Consumer Electronics Week back in June was the amount of paper still being passed around. for all of the tech-savvy people attracted by this exhibition, the most common way for vendors and journalists to swap information was by handing out pamphlets, spec sheets, and business cards. Cover a show for a couple of days and you end up with an unruly stack of paper you can barely jam into your laptop bag, and that’s to say nothing of the business receipts that can pile up.

This is precisely where portable document scanners can come in handy. Stick a business card into one, and you’ll quickly have a digital copy that you can use to keep the stacks of paper at a manageable level. The concept of a small, portable document scanner you can connect to your computer isn’t new, but the Doxie go makes it simpler by eschewing the computer. You can turn this battery-powered scanner on, feed a few documents in it, and turn it off. The scans will be saved to either its internal memory or a connected SD card or USB stick, ready to be copied to your computer the next time you’re at your desk. Doxie sent us one of these scanners for review—let’s see how it works.

The $199 Doxie Go is a 10.5″ x 1.7″ x 2.2″ piece of plastic that weighs a little less than a pound, similar in size and shape to other mobile document scanners like those in Fujitsu’s ScanSnap lineup or Brother’s DSmobile 600. like the scanners in these competing products, the Doxie Go’s maximum resolution is 600 dpi, but it usually defaults to 300 dpi. by my count, it takes about 8.5 seconds to make a 300 dpi scan of a standard 8.5” by 11” sheet of paper, and around 33 seconds to scan the same sheet at 600 dpi. Bundled accessories include a small implement for cleaning the scanner slot, a cloth bag, and a scanning sleeve into which you can place fragile or glossy photos before feeding them through the scanner.

Andrew Cunningham

The go includes about 512MB of internal memory, which the company claims will hold about 600 documents or 2400 photos scanned at 300 dpi. This storage is expandable using either the unit’s SD card slot or its USB port—when extra storage is inserted, the scanner will automatically save scans to the external media rather than its internal memory. Both SD cards and USB sticks must be FAT formatted to work with the scanner.

Andrew Cunningham

The scanner’s internal battery, good for about 100 scans at 300 dpi, can be charged using either the provided mini USB cable or a $10 international power adapter. It takes around two hours to get a full charge. The mini USB port is also used to transfer scans from the Go’s internal memory to your computer using either a photo importing application like the Windows Photo Viewer or iPhoto, or the included Doxie software that we’ll talk about more later.

The Doxie go feels a bit fragile—it’s all plastic, and there’s quite a bit of bending and flexing going on even if you gently squeeze the scanner. Given that the scanner is intended for use on the go, I worry about the implications for heavy travelers. The $29 case accessory seems like a good investment. The glossy white and black plastic casing also attracts fingerprints and smudges, though these are less noticeable on the white plastic on top than the black plastic underneath.

Andrew Cunningham

After charging the scanner, you’ll first want to insert the included calibration sheet. after calibration, the Doxie go can be used to scan letter and legal size documents, receipts, business cards, photos, and other miscellaneous pieces of paper. Thicker objects—things like driver’s licenses or heavier card stock, for example—will also go through. The Doxie does, however, lack a duplex feature—you’ll need to look into something like Brother’s DS700D if you want simultaneous two-sided scans. like most other document scanners, the Doxie also lacks a multi-sheet feeder tray, so you’ll have to scan items one at a time.

If you’re scanning something narrower than an 8.5” by 11” sheet of paper, insert it on the left side of the Go’s paper feed slot. There’s a small plastic slider you can use to guide the paper and make sure your scan doesn’t come out crooked.

Andrew Cunningham

Tapping the power button switches the scanning mode—if the light at the bottom of the button is green, you’re scanning at 300 dpi, and if it’s orange you’re scanning at the Go’s highest possible resolution of 600 dpi.

That’s all you have to do to scan documents. If you’re happy with the JPEGs that the Doxie will drop into your SD card or its internal memory, there’s not much else to do. If you’d like to save documents as PDFs or perform any other more advanced features, you’ll need to do that using Doxie’s scanner software.

The Doxie software is available as a free download for both the PC and the Mac, and you’ll need it if you’re doing anything other than simple JPEG scans. like most scanner software, it can be used to view, tweak, and import scanned images, but it also includes some more advanced functionality. My favorite is its ability to “staple” multi-page documents together.

The Doxie software can “staple” multi-page documents together.

The software also you to save your scans as PNGs, PDFs, and PDFs with ABBYY OCR. The software can also pass scans to other locally installed software, like Adobe Acrobat Pro, Adobe Photoshop, or Evernote, or to cloud services like Dropbox, Google Docs, or Doxie’s own Doxie Cloud. The lists of applications and cloud services can be adjusted in the software’s preferences.

The Doxie software can send scans to locally installed applications and also to cloud services like Dropbox or Google Docs.

To get an idea of the Doxie’s scan quality, I fired up the HP Deskjet 3050 all-in-one in my home office and made a few 300 dpi scans. This is hardly a top-of-the-line flatbed scanner, but it should be indicative of the scan quality you’ll get from the cheap all-in-ones sitting in most homes and offices.

The first sample image is from one of the inserts included with the scanner, and it depicts an anthropomorphic Doxie scanner enjoying a beverage by a swimming pool.

The picture as scanned by the Doxie go. The same picture scanned by the HP Deskjet 3050.

The Doxie scan’s colors are more saturated (and to my eye, a bit more accurate), but it’s also decidedly softer and noisier than the scan made by the HP printer. also note the shadow at the bottom of the Doxie scan—that’s coming from a place where the sheet was folded, and the lid of the HP printer did a much better job of flattening out the crease and eliminating that shadow. This was pretty consistent with any folded or wrinkled paper—the Doxie captured more of these imperfections while the HP was able to smooth them out.

A Google Play receipt as scanned by the Doxie go. The same receipt scanned by the HP Deskjet 3050.

In a text document like this Google Play receipt, the Doxie’s softer and noisier image quality is again evident. also notice that the HP scan has higher contrast by default, which will be helpful if you ever need to re-print this document. Do note, however, that the Doxie’s software includes contrast controls that can help rectify this issue.

The Doxie Go’s scan quality is perfectly usable for its intended purpose, but it’s not something you’ll want to use to convert precious family photos. for that, you’d be better off with even a cheap all-in-one flatbed, at least if our comparisons are any indication.

For an additional $30, Doxie will throw in a 4GB Eye-Fi SD card, which is a standard size SD card with integrated 2.4 GHz 802.11n wireless. These cards aren’t new—we first covered them all the way back in early 2008—but when inserted into the Doxie go they enable wireless transfers of your scans directly to your PCs and Macs, or Android and iOS devices.

Andrew Cunningham

The Eye-Fi comes with a small USB card reader that can be used to read the card, but you can just as easily insert it into your computer’s integrated SD card slot if you’ve got one. either way, you’ll need to plug the card in to configure it before you can start using it. once the card is mounted, navigate to the “Start Here” folder and install the Eye-Fi software on your Mac or PC.

After installation, the software will make sure your computer’s firewall isn’t going to inhibit its operation, and then the Eye-Fi Center program will launch and prompt you to create a username and password. Do this, and then choose whether you want the images you can to come to your computer or your iOS or Android smartphone running the Eye-Fi app, and whether you want the scans sent to your online Eye-Fi account for access from the Internet. Later, you’ll also be given the option to upload the photos to a number of online services, including Facebook, Flickr, Picasa, MobileMe (RIP), or an FTP server of your choice. Finally, you’ll be asked to connect the Eye-Fi to your network, and you’ll be ready to go. Insert the Eye-Fi into your scanner (or camera, if you’d like), and it will automatically transfer photos to the Eye-Fi Center, the web, and your configured online services. Doxie also offers directions for linking the Eye-Fi software directly to the Doxie scanning software that you can follow if you’d like.

Connecting the Eye-Fi card to a wireless network.

If you think the Eye-Fi card sounds like it would be useful, it’s compatible with just about anything with an SD slot. The 4GB version is available for $40, with two different 8GB models available for around $80 and $100. The more expensive model adds RAW uploading and WiFi geotagging along with the expanded storage space.

I encountered no issues using the Eye-Fi card with the Doxie Go—after configuring the card, scans were quickly transmitted to my computer over the wireless network. There’s not much else to say about it. If you think the functionality is worth $30, add the Eye-Fi card to your order when purchasing the Doxie go. Otherwise, the scanner works just as well when connected directly to your computer over USB, or when using standard SD cards and USB drives.

The Doxie go doesn’t have all of the features of some of its competitors. Its scan quality, while certainly good enough, isn’t quite as good as the consumer-grade flatbed scanners integrated into most all-in-one printers. That said, its ability to be used without a computer—especially when paired with a wireless SD card like the Eye-Fi—is a potentially killer feature for people who travel frequently. If you like the Doxie Go’s software and features but don’t see a need for its computer-free operation, Doxie also offers a cheaper computer-connected version called the Doxie that goes for $149, or $119 if you’re a teacher or student.

The good

  • Easy to use
  • Doesn’t require a computer to scan items
  • Can use any SD card or USB flash drive to expand its internal storage
  • Doxie software is lightweight and useful
  • Eye-Fi wireless SD cards are still pretty cool

The bad

  • Other document scanners, like the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 or the Brother DS700D, have more capabilities and list for the same $199 price
  • If you don’t mind using a scanner with your computer, scanners with the same feature set can be had for less money (Brother’s DSmobile 600 and Doxie’s own just-plain-Doxie both sell for $149, for instance)
  • As in most mobile document scanners, multi-sheet feeding and duplex scanning isn’t possible
  • Scan quality is only OK

The ugly

  • Somewhat flimsy plastic gives us concerns about its ability to stand up to the abuse of frequent travel

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