Battle Test: DocuPen RC800

The DocuPen RC800 is a full color 24-bit scanner that looks like pen — hence the name. It is capable of producing full page scans from its compact case. It includes a conspicuous looking carrying case intended to protect it during travels.

The design allows you to select from black and white, standard color or high 24-bit color. It also has resolution options ranging from 100 to 400 dpi. The included Paperport software is reasonably intuitive and allows you to grab scans from the DocuPen without much hassle. Its onboard memory can store up to 100 lesser quality images, but it has a MicroSD expansion slot for larger storage capacities. When you’re ready to upload your scans, the device connects via an included USB cable. It is powered by a rechargeable lithium-Ion battery that is charged via USB.

I know people tend to think that reduced size and increased portability is always a good thing — I was one of those people — but it really became something of a issue here. The problem exists when attempting to scan documents. With a flatbed scanner, one simply sets the document on the bed and hits the button. There is no attempting to steady a device while manually dragging the scanning mechanism. That was a huge issue for me here. It’s difficult to keep a document straight while moving the DocuPen appropriately. I found that I often botched several scans before finally getting one down correctly.

Another problem that I have with this device is the flimsiness of its design. Sure the scanner works, but the DocuPen does not feel sturdy in the slightest. I was not comfortable toting it in my bag for fear that it wouldn’t survive a trip In its defense though, it was never destroyed, but I’m not sure if that’s a testament to its durability or I was just uncommonly unbrutal those particular days.

I carried it around for about two weeks, expecting to scan stuff, but I only ended up using it to scan a handful of documents on the go. Now, it’s not that I never had anything to scan, it’s just that whenever I found myself in situations that needed scanning, there was almost always a flatbed scanner on hand. And given the problems I explained about documents shifting around while using the DocuPen, I can’t see ever opting for the DocuPen over a flatbed.

The DocuPen RC800 from PLANon is a product of dubious utility. I have to question whether there is a huge demand for such a product. It seems to me that if you’re scanning papers, you could just use a normal flatbed scanner. If, however, you’re in the niche group that absolutely needs a portable scanning device, this is probably the best option out there. The scan quality isn’t bad if you can figure out an effective way to brace what you’re scanning—I never could.

It is available in two models: the standard for $299.99 and the pro for $349.

DocuPen RC800