Planon DocuPen R700

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, January 2006
Published by: Planon System Solutions, Inc.
Requires: Windows 98, Me, 2000 or XP; 32MB RAM, 60MB free hard drive space, available USB 2.0 port
MSRP: US$199.99

If I never again see another printed document that has to be somehow sent instantly halfway around the world (and no fax machine in sight), it won't be too soon. Give me a tool that can quickly scan and digitize a couple of pages from a contract, reference or research report, and I'll show you a product that I'll buy on the spot. As a matter of fact, if you can make the product portable—I mean small enough to literally toss into my briefcase—I'll buy lunch for everyone too. Oh yes—no power requirements either; it has to be completely self-contained. Egad! I think I've just asked the impossible, unless of course you consider the Planon DocuPen R700. It's a portable scanner designed to function as a quick and simple tool which can be used almost anywhere to swipe over a flat surface in order to capture a B&W scan.

The DocuPen is a USB 2.0 device. It's an 8.5" long stick, activation button on a flat top surface, scanner and guide rollers on the bottom surface, supplied with a proprietary USB connection cable which plugs into one end of the DocuPen, and a leather slip case for storage and protection while carrying the scanner in a bag or briefcase. The scanner itself is completely self-contained, with an internal battery that recharges whenever the DocuPen is connected to a compatible USB 2.0 port. Charge time appears to be about 2 hours. The DocuPen has two scanning modes: 200x100 DPI and 200x200 DPI. I installed the DocuPen and its bundled PaperPort software on my 3 year old Dell Inspiron Pentium II running Windows XP (SP2), and on a brand new Toshiba Satellite Tablet PC.

With 2MB of internal memory, the DocuPen is capable of scanning and storing between 90-100 text-light US letter size pages. In actual use however, I found that RAM was full after 20-30 typical pages scanned from more densely printed and illustrated research documents. The DocuPen is simple to use. Plug it into any compatible USB 2.0 port and wait for the internal battery to charge. Disconnect it when ready then scan whatever you want. A single button on the spine of the device controls all functions including the aforementioned 100 and 200 DPI settings (press & hold the button once for 100 DPI; twice for 200DPI). Downloading scans from the DocuPen to the computer is accomplished by means of its supplied proprietary USB cable and the bundled PaperPort software for Windows XP.

I carried the DocuPen R700 for about six weeks. During that test and usage period I scanned over 200 pages of various descriptions, including everything from business cards to tear sheets, ads to product listings, dozens of selected pages from research documents, invoices and everything else I wanted to copy. Because the scanner is basically an instant-on device, it was often faster and simpler to scan a few pages rather than leave a meeting (for example) to walk over to a photocopier (and generate yet more paper to carry around). The DocuPen caught the attention of everyone who saw it in use and generated a gratifying amount of interest. In fact, it was the ability, in meetings, to scan a page from a printed report and then only a minute later incorporate it into a PowerPoint slide for viewing by a room full of people that drew most of the appreciative whistles.

Cons: The documentation is sufficient, cheerful and direct, but it's not always helpful. For example, on the back of the Quick Start card it states ". . . a red blinking LED indicates a [scanning] speed that is too fast—therefore slow down" but doesn't mention that most scans that are too fast also come out at least partly unreadable. In other words, if that LED blinks at you it's better to stop completely and start from the beginning. The DocuPen needs more RAM—8MB total should do it—because it was too easy to fill up the current 2MB during the course of long research meetings. The scanner button on the spine of the device requires a bit of effort to push and hold in order to start and complete scans, so as you scan multipage documents you may find the scanner turning on and off accidentally (which of course ruins the scan). You really have to carefully follow the advice provided in the documentation about how to properly grip the DocuPen. I recommend two hands for beginners.

Pros: It works and it's remarkably accurate. Text is scanned clearly enough to keep TextBridge and other Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software happy most of the time. As a highly portable scanning solution mated to a laptop as needed, the DocuPen makes a great tool that fits into a corner of your briefcase. Sized right, it handles US Letter, A4 and US Legal paper with ease and with sufficient internal memory for a useful amount of scanning. Well built and hardy enough to stand up to all of the abuse I put it through during the course of 6 weeks of daily scanning and transport. Scan quality is consistent once you get a feel for the DocuPen and start handling and operating it confidently. The small guide and tracking rollers on the bottom of the scanner have held up well even through some mildly dirty, gritty environments and show no signs of loading up with filth, mistracking or any other glitch. Scans instantly—no warm up required as with full size scanners. The device is a time saver in meetings because you don't have to run to the photocopier every time you need to copy something. Maybe the DocuPen R700 brings the dream of the paperless office one step closer to reality? Here's hoping! The DocuPen R700 is a genuinely handy and easy to use portable pen scanner that should see lots of use at business meetings, conferences, shows, exhibitions, project sites, classrooms and so on. Recommended.

Comments? Questions? Qualms? Technical problems? Send an e-mail!





© Copyright 2000-2006 All rights reserved. legal notice
home | previous reviews | hot news | about us | search | store | subscribe


Forums Search Home Previous Reviews About Us Store Subscribe