Whenever someone mentions scanners, what comes to mind are the large desktop or "flatbed" models. But as with every other consumer electronics gadget, scanners too have been taking the leap of miniaturization. No longer confined solely to the desktop, some of them are even compact enough to be portable.
We just reviewed the Avision MiWand 2 Wi-Fi Pro mobile scanner, but today, we've another portable unit with a different proposition. The Xcanex from piQx Imaging is portable and also offers many scanning options such as the ability to scan the pages of a book continuously. There are two ways of using the Xcanex - you can either mount it on your laptop or attach the stand so that you can use it on your desktop.
While it’s common to be able to use many products right out of the box without referring to the instruction manual, with the Xcanex, it was a bit more difficult. Even attaching the stand to the Xcanex required a few quick checks with the instruction manual. There are some portable scanners that can work without being connected to a PC or requiring any special software; unfortunately the Xcanex requires both a special software and connection via a PC in order to work.
You will need to install the Perfecapture software, which came on the accompanying installation disc (took us about ten minutes to install). The Xcanex does offer more scanning options though, when compared to the standard wand-type scanners. The downside was that we had to view the video tutorials on the accompanying CD-ROM to find out how to set up the various scanning options and modes. While you can skip the tutorials, it might take longer to get familiar with the scanner’s functions and how it works; there’s a definite learning curve when starting out with this scanner.
Once you’re done with the tutorials, scanning is pretty straightforward. The Xcanex works by using a small camera in its body to snap a shot, which is then transferred to your PC via the Perfecapture software.
The Xcanex comes with a Xcanpad, which is a pad that helps with alignment of the items you’re scanning as well as blocking out the surface of your desktop. And that’s where things start to get slow. With a flatbed scanner, all you need to do is to align the top corner of your document and close the lid before scanning. With the Xcanex, you will need to align all four corners of the document which takes some trial-and-error before you can start scanning.
What the Xcanex excels in is the number of features and scanning options you get. With the Perfecapture software, you can scan a certain number of pages in a book, and save them all in a single PDF file. If you choose the contiguous mode, you can scan all the right pages of a chosen chapter in your book, and then scan all the left pages in that chapter, after which the software will automatically arrange the pages in order. You can also scan pages from a magazine as well as name cards.
Most of the scans were of good quality, but we felt they were still not good enough for record-keeping purposes. Colors were a bit off at times, so color accuracy is definitely not one of the Xcanex’s strong points. The Xcanex software also comes with optical character recognization, and while it’s generally quite accurate, it also depends on the quality of your original documents and if the software can pick out the words (some fonts can be tricky).
The Xcanex is a unique product and while it does have its uses, you will need to consider how frequently you will be using it. It’s portable and thus is handier than a flatbed scanner, but of course it still loses out in terms of scan quality and let’s not forget you will need to lug your notebook around as well since the Xcanex won’t work without the software.
A wand-type scanner is useful if you are intending to scan a few pages at most, but it will get tiring if you need to plough through a few chapters. Xcanex is a handier option in this scenario, but it requires a steeper learning curve and even then, you will need to ensure the pages are properly aligned before each scan for the best capture.
For those who value to advantages of the Xcanex, S$369 may not be such a huge price to pay, but if you don’t see yourself using it frequently or your scans are usually of normal monochrome documents, then S$369 may seem a bit excessive.