Friday, July 22, 2011

Portronics Scanny 3

Now you can scan wherever you are, whenever you want

SmilePortable; Lightweight and compact; Good scan quality; Very easy to use; Bluetooth transfer; USB mass storage device capability; Software bundle with OCR
Sad smileNeeds a steady hand to avoid skewing; Needs a flat surface for best results

Portronics Scanny 3
MRP: Rs 6,499
Street price: Rs 6000 (approx)
Whenever you think of a scanner, the image that comes to your mind is of a large glass platen scanning surface which is part of a bulky device called the scanner. Well, how about a scanner you could carry right in your coat pocket and scan anywhere, anytime? Portronics has made this possible, thanks to their product called the Scanny 3. This lightweight battery-powered scanner is capable of scanning an A4 size document in as less as 2 seconds by just swiping the device over the document and the length of the document can be as up to 127 cm, which is not possible for any flatbed scanner. It can scan in full colour mode in two preset resolutions of 300 dpi and 600 dpi, which can be toggled on the device. In addition to USB, this device also supports wirelessly transferring the scanned documents via Bluetooth. Let us see how well this scanner performs in real-world situations.

Portronics Scanny 3
USB cable
Battery charger with USB interface
User's manual
White balance calibration paper
Software CD
Wiping cloth
Leather carry pouch
As you can see, the Scanny 3 comes with basically everything you would want, except the memory card, which you would need to buy separately to be able to use this scanner. It is sensible of the company to provide a wiping cloth to clean the glass scanning surface because using just about any cloth can produce scratches, and reduce the scanning quality. The white balance calibration paper needs to be used only if you suspect that the scanner's white balance setting needs to be corrected.
Design And Features
For those who remember the Planon Docupen scanners from a few years ago, the Scanny 3 may seem a bit bulkier, as against the pen-like design of those early portable scanners. At the same time, I must emphasise the fact that the build quality of the Scanny 3 is much better with a body mostly made of metal. The Scanny 3 is almost like a 26.3 cm long bar with a rectangular cross section of 2.34 cm x 2.27 cm. Weighing just 140 grams, this device is considerably lightweight and easy to carry around and handle.
Almost the entire body is cast in a metallic casing with a black matte finish with sparse shiny pixie dust finish. The portion on the other end of the device away from the display is made of plastic and is in fact the cover where the 3.7 V 800 mAh Li Polymer rechargeable battery is housed. This cover can be slid out to replace the battery when necessary. A large SCAN button is situated just adjacent to this cover, and this also acts as a Bluetooth transfer button when that mode is selected.

Turning our attention to the top side of the display, there are is a slider button, which can be slid two notches. When slid to the first notch, it switches on the device, while moving it to the second notch turns on the Bluetooth mode to enable wireless file transfer. There are tiny entrenched buttons to set time and to format the memory card, located just besides the slider button. These buttons are entrenched away from easy access to avoid accidental format or setting of time, but you can use them by means of a paper clip or a pin. A microSD memory card slot is present just besides these buttons. This can accept memory cards with capacity up to 32 GB. The device does not have any internal memory and therefore, a memory card is necessary to get it working.

Moving to the other side of the device, there is a C/BW button located at the extreme end, which lets you toggle the scanning mode between Colour and Black & White. Next to it is a DPI toggle button using which, you can set the scanning resolution to Low (300 dpi) or High (600 dpi). A microUSB connector is situated adjacent to this button. You can use this to transfer files from the device to your computer, and also to charge the battery. The sides are neatly marked with guides to indicate the scanning width of the scanning element is aligned correctly with the document to be able to scan it properly.

The monochrome LCD displays all the necessary information such as the currently selected scanning mode and resolution, the status of the memory card, battery meter with three level indicator bars, and also the number of scanned documents already present on the memory card. To the left of this display, there is a set of indicators backlit with LEDs. The top indicator marked SCAN, glows green when the scanner is in the ready-to-scan state, while the indicator marked ERR glows red when there is some error in scanning (such as when you swiped too fast or too slow) or any other scanner error. It also glows when the battery is being charged. There is also a BT indicator with blue backlit LED on the right of the indicator to indicate Bluetooth activity.

The line scanning element consisting of A4 colour Contact Image Sensors (CIS) with 5136 dots present below the device is housed inside a protective glass casing and is entrenched around a millimetre inside the surface to avoid it from making contact with the surface being scanned. This also makes sure that the scanning surface remains clean. There are four rubber rollers on an axle at one side to facilitate easy movement of the device over the surface being scanned.

Scanny 3 comes with ABBYY Screenshot Reader, which is an OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software. It is capable of converting the scanned documents to Word, Excel, image file or even an email attachment. In the tests, I found that it works consistently well in conjunction with the Scanny 3.

For the performance test, I scanned a few documents to find out how well this scanner can scan. I then scanned the same documents using a flatbed scanner to compare the results. Expectedly, I did find some amount of skewing in the document scan results from Scanny 3. The problem increases if the surface on which you are using the Scanny 3 is not flat. That being said, with a little practice and some patience, considerably good results can be obtained. It took me around half a dozen times, before I found the right way to get the best possible scans.

The results from Scanny 3 are still not as good as a flatbed scanner, but it is a trade-off for the sake of portability and convenience. Overall, the colour reproduction and sharpness is almost on par with what I had achieved using the flatbed scanner. It takes around 10 seconds to achieve a 600 dpi colour scan, while monochromatic scan takes less time.

To transfer files via Bluetooth, you first need to move the slider button to the second (Bluetooth) position and pair the Scanny 3 with your computer. You can then push the files from the scanner by selecting the file number using the DPI and C/BW buttons to go up or down, and then pressing the SCAN button to begin file transfer. The BT indicator keeps flashing while the file transfers. One drawback of this method over USB is that you can only transfer one file at a time, but if you don't have many files to transfer, this way is very convenient. No driver installation is necessary to transfer the files in either way.
The battery is capable of handling 400 scans before it runs out of gas. This is good enough for most practical purposes.
The Portronics Scanny 3 is a very good scanner. The colour reproduction and sharpness are on par with a flatbed scanner. That being said, it is not as good as a flatbed scanner, but it still gets the job done quite well, and you can master its use with a little practice and a pair of steady hands. Built ruggedly, it looks good with a black and silver body. Operating on lightweight rechargeable battery, this portable scanner is small and light enough to carry in your coat pocket and the leather carry pouch gives it adequate protection. Along with USB, it has a convenient way of transferring files via Bluetooth to any compatible device such as a computer or a mobile phone. The provided ABBYY Screenshot Reader OCR software converts scanned documents into word-processor editable documents and it greatly increases the value of this product. The skewing problem is also taken care of by the software to some extent, while practice can solve it completely.
Who would want to use this scanner? Probably James Bond 007? Jokes apart, this scanner has several applications if you look at it from a practical point of view. You can scan reference books in libraries which you are not allowed to take outside with you. You can scan brochures at a shop and later mail them to a friend. You can scan charts, time tables, maps, hotel menus, and several other things and you can do all this wherever you go, as long as you take this portable scanner along. Overall, I liked this innovative product and it is priced at Rs 6,499, but you can get it for Rs 6,000 in the market, which is a lot less than what the Planon Docupen was priced at when it was launched. It comes with a one year standard warranty and the manufacturer claims to be able to replace or repair the product within 4 work days.
Features: 4/5
Design & Build Quality: 4.5/5
Performance: 4/5
Value For Money: 3.5/5
Mojo: 4.5/5
Overall Rating: 4/5


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