Copying has been a big part of research and development for centuries. Through the use of quill pens and ink, monks copied every scrap of literature in order to pass information from one generation to the next. Chroniclers recorded the escapades and business of kings and generals and passed them on to their descendants through hand copying. But in 1938, Chester Carlson applied for a patent for an electrophotography process. Through his persistence, the copying machine came in to existence with the help of the Haloid Corporation and Xerox machines were born. Today we have many different forms and types of copy machines. The portable document scanner is one of the more personal types of these machines.
Many researchers find themselves in contact with documents, forms, cards, and books that need to be copied for their research, but there is no copy machine available. The portable document scanner provides a simple means to making important copies for research without removing the documents.
A laptop computer is the basic workmate for the portable scanner. The newest scanners use the power of the laptop to energize the scanner through a 2.0 USB connection. The scanner itself is about the length of a common twelve-inch ruler with some of the smaller ones having dimensions of 2-inches x 2.5-inches x 12-inches. They easily fit into a backpack, computer bag, or even an attache case.
Special software is loaded into the host laptop to facilitate the digitizing of document scanning. The document is either passed over by the scanner, or it is channeled through the device. A DCR (Digital Character Recognition) pickup scans the document and sends the digital data to the laptop where the software converts it to an image viewed on the display monitor.
Some criteria to consider when choosing a portable document scanner includes but is not limited to the following:
- High resolution – provides for a better scan and less blurring of the copied document
- Document size variability – a scanner that is capable of handling several different sizes and is able to recognize the difference
- Sheet feeding mechanism – provides a hands-free function freeing the user to do other things while the document is fed through the machine
- Auto image correction – makes for better scans and deletes any blank pages or large sections of blanked sheets. This feature also helps collate the copied documents and makes automatic adjustments to the copy based on the size of the original
Research often demands a great deal of information that cannot be removed from its storage area. The portable document scanner is not only handy, but it is priceless in saving time and money for the researcher.