Planon’s DocuPen RC800 Color

Back at CES earlier this year I was loaned a novel portable scanner by Planon – the DocuPen RC800 Color, which I will refer to as the “DocuPen” in the rest of this post.

I have since returned the DocuPen, but with a bit of remorse. Not because I was putting it to ample use (I only used it for testing, and nothing more), but more because I keep thinking I might need it at some point and miss having it available for some special occasion.

The $299 DocuPen RC800 looks like a pen on steroids, although perhaps the term “wand” might be more appropriate. The DocuPen needs to be bigger than a pen though, so it can scan an 8.5” wide piece of paper in one pass. The DocuPen is lightweight, has an integrated battery, takes microSD cards for memory storage, and pretty easy to use.

To use it, you press one of the buttons on the device, use another button to cycle through your scanning options (black & white or color; resolution; etc.) and then slowly drag it across the surface you want to scan. It doesn’t have to be a paper – it could be a painting, a poster on a wall, or any subject that is flat and smooth, in any orientation (horizontal on a table or the ground or vertical on a wall, for example).

The maximum speed of dragging is determined by the amount of data being scanned – color, high resolution scans necessarily take longer than low resolution blank & white scans. The number of pages of scans is also determined by the content, as well as the size of the memory card installed in the device.

You can transfer the data from the DocuPen to a PC using either the included super-mini USB cable (smaller than mini-USB) or by removing the memory card and using the supplied external USB reader to read it. I had problems doing the latter on a system without the proper DocuPen software installed even though, theoretically, the memory card should show up as a memory device, but it was also easier to just plug in the cable instead of remove the memory card).

Scans were of good quality, and the software supplied by Planon simple to use. A copy of PaperPort was also included in the distribution I received.

Another cool idea was including something along the lines of a universal charger in the box (which is a nice metal box, incidentally). You use a wall outlet to charge a small battery pack and then use the battery pack to charge the DocuPen. It sounds a bit odd, but once I had this explained to me by Planon’s staff at CES, I was up and running. The box also includes a few additional charger tips for other popular portable electronics devices.

Overall the DocuPen RC800 is a nice, well-featured product.

But, being in my office most of the time, I found my Fujitsu SnapScan to be so much more convenient to use that I never used the DocuPen outside my testing, which reminded me that each thing has its place in the world, and for me, the DocuPen was not an office scanning tool.

What the DocuPen RC800 color is, is an on-the-go scanning tool, and hence my remorse. I’m going on several multi-week trips with my family in the coming 12-18 months, in some cases to rather remote locations (no so remote there’s not a real bathroom present, but remote enough that technology to scan may not be readily available. And in those cases, the DocuPen may well come in handy. Although, even that said, I have found it relatively easy to take digital photos of documents, plaques, etc., for later use. The resolution of a digital camera is not nearly as good as that of the DocuPen, but convenience is an issue.

Even so, the DocuPen RC800 could still have a place – albeit a small one – in my carry-on, just in case.

 

One Response to “Planon’s DocuPen RC800 Color”

  1. Jake Richter says:

    Norman,

    I found my biggest issue with the DocuPen was dragging it at a consistent rate – it takes a bit of practice to figure out what is fast enough to scan smoothly, but not too fast (triggering the red light warning on the device).

    You may also be having an issue with traction – if the rollers which are used to determine when the DocuPen has moved are either too sticky or moving against something that is too slick, you might end up with accordion-like scanning (variable scan density).

    Jake