Planon DocuPen RC-800 review

Price when reviewed

Hailed by Planon as the world’s smallest handheld colour full-page scanner, the DocuPen RC-800 looks an ideal tool for mobile workers fed up with using standard pen-style models. At 210mm long, the RC-800 is more of a wand than a pen, but does incorporate an 8in 24-bit colour scanner.

Planon DocuPen RC-800 review

The RC-800 comes with a leather case, which we’d recommend using. Build quality isn’t that great and we’d have expected to see metal rather than plastic at this price. Nevertheless, it incorporates a rechargeable battery, a USB port and its meagre 8MB of flash memory can be upgraded with a standard MicroSD TransFlash card. Again, though, the pop-off cover that protects this card is a flimsy affair.

To use the scanner, you power it on with a button on the top; use the same button to select either standard or high resolutions, and for mono, document or photo image quality use the second button below. A useful status display below this shows what settings have been selected. Then, with a steady hand, you sweep the scanner smoothly down the page – and you do need to practice at this, as it’s all too easy to distort the resultant image. Usefully, the pen incorporates a movement sensor that detects when a scan has started, while a warning indicator tells you if you’re going too fast. On occasion, we found the sensor a little too sensitive, as even the slightest pause during a scan would cause it to stop and download the image to memory even though we hadn’t finished.

The bundled DocuPen utility provides quick access to memory contents and allows you to view stored images, copy them to a folder of your choice and erase the pen’s memory. The ScanPort software also links up with the TWAIN driver, so you can download images directly from the DocuPen, organise them and save them to a range of formats including PDF.

If you plan to scan lots of images when out on the road, make sure you upgrade the standard memory with a TransFlash card. When scanning an A4 colour photograph at the highest resolution, we found the integrated memory was unable to accommodate the entire image and would stop scanning when around three-quarters of the way down the page. On the lower resolution, the same scan was completed successfully and the image occupied around 5MB of memory. We loaded the DocuPen with a 1GB card and found that once it had been formatted via the utility, we had plenty of storage space for 80 to 200 pages.

Note also that if you run out of storage space, you can only erase the memory contents when the DocuPen is connected to a PC. One other irritation was that whenever an image download or memory erase was complete, the DocuPen would power itself off. Even so, we did find image quality to be surprisingly good, although this will depend how steadily and smoothly you swipe the DocuPen down a page. Mono documents were clear and easily readable, while photographs, particularly at the highest resolution, had good colour balance and were sharp enough for the task at hand.

Despite the niggling issues we encountered and the tiny amount of integrated memory, the DocuPen RC-800 works well enough. It could be a useful tool for mobile workers who need a compact full-page portable colour scanner.

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