For most of us, the paperless life remains just a dream. We’re awash in memos, documents, photos.
It would be far more convenient, not to say environmentally friendly, if we could keep everything neatly organized and accessible on our various devices. But in an increasingly mobile and wireless world, most scanners remain stationary and tethered to a computer.
I’ve been trying out one alternative: the Doxie Go + WiFi. It’s a compact, portable color scanner that, in exchange for putting you through one-time set-up pain, provides a significant gain by allowing you to easily digitize paper documents and wirelessly transfer them to an iPad, iPhone, Android device or online service, as well as a computer.
The Doxie Go + WiFi, which is made by North Carolina-based Apparent, costs $249; minus the Wi-Fi, it’s $199. It measures 10.5 inches long, 1.7 inches tall and 2.2 inches deep -- roughly the dimensions of a Saran Wrap box -- and weighs under a pound. There’s no multi-sheet feeder, so you’ll be putting things into Doxie’s slot a page at a time.
The Easy Part
Half the set-up process -- the part involving the scanner itself -- is simple. You’ll need access to an Internet-connected Mac or Windows PC to download the Doxie software, and then connect the scanner with the included USB cable to charge the battery. Apparent says the unit is good for about 100 scans between charges; you can also use the cable with a mobile-device wall charger.
The Wi-Fi is where things get a little ugly. Instead of integrating the function, Apparent merely provides a four- gigabyte Eye-Fi card. That’s the same thumbnail-sized adapter sold for use in digital cameras to allow instant uploading of photos. The Doxie manual tells you how to configure it for use in the scanner’s SD slot.
Those instructions include: plugging the Eye-Fi and its card reader into a Mac or PC, installing still more software, configuring that software, ejecting the reader, plugging it back in and dealing with three more set-up screens.
Things are a little less complicated if you use the Doxie with a computer instead of an iPad or iPhone. But they’re a little more complicated if you also want to connect your documents with online photo-sharing or note services like Yahoo (YHOO:US)’s Flickr, Google (GOOG:US)’s Picasa or Evernote.
After setting up the scanner in under 10 minutes, it took me another 45 or so to get the Wi-Fi installed and properly functioning.
Not surprisingly, all the futzing left me somewhat cranky. My attitude changed once I was actually able to begin using the Doxie.
For one thing, it couldn’t be easier. There’s only one button, to turn it on and off. It also glows either green or amber to tell you whether you’re scanning at a resolution of 300 dots per inch, which takes about 10 seconds for a standard 8.5- by-11 inch sheet, or 600 dpi, which takes about 35 seconds.
Using both modes, I scanned a variety of items, including a receipt, old photos, a handwritten memo, a vintage baseball card and a magazine cover. Since the Doxie and my destination device, an iPad, were on the same Wi-Fi network, the documents showed up with no more effort than opening an app.
No Network, No Worries
No Wi-Fi network? No worries. In that case, the Eye-Fi creates its own local wireless connection. I simply selected it from the list of available networks on the iPad, then launched the app. Since my iPad has cellular data service, I didn’t even have to give up my Internet connection during the transfer.
To the iPad, the Doxie appeared to be a camera, so its images showed up as photos in the camera roll. From there, my options were almost limitless. I could e-mail the tax receipt to my accountant, crop and edit the photo using Apple (AAPL:US)’s iPhoto app and add a scrawled memo to an Evernote archive.
In addition, because I use the PhotoStream feature of Apple’s iCloud service, my scans automatically showed up on my iPhone and my desktop iMac. The Doxie desktop software, available for both Mac and Windows, allows you, among other things, to save documents in Adobe (ADBE:US)’s PDF format, where their contents can be searched.
Doxie isn’t the only mobile scanner to use the Eye-Fi scheme. Xerox (XRX:US) and Visioneer sell a similarly priced and equipped device. While I haven’t had a chance to try it out, it isn’t as lightweight, and has two buttons to Doxie’s one.
In my book, simplicity counts for a lot. Now if only Doxie could extend that concept to the Wi-Fi setup.
(Rich Jaroslovsky is a Bloomberg News columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.)
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