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By Ryan Noik 11 September 2017

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Scanners, much like printers, are the unsung heroes of the digital world. And portable scanners, are all the more appealing for the fact that they are designed to be easily transportable, powered by the USB port on one’s PC rather than an external adapter. Epson’s DS-30  scanner is a case in point, measuring just 27 cm long and weighing a scant 325 g. It’s easy to slip into a notebook bag or backpack. But would you want to?

To start with, the portable scanner is certainly capable. It can scan up to A4 size pages, and resolution wise, can do so at up to 600 dpi. It is also straight forward to use. However, you do need to install the necessary drivers and software before you plug it in – it cannot be powered on without these being present. Speaking of power, the advantage that portable scanners have over their desk bound counterparts is that they don’t require another power brick. Rather, the scanner draws its juice from a single USB connection.

The included software to perform the scanning is similarly easy to use, offering some standard image adjustment prior to scanning, adjusting brightness, contrast, removing punch holes and descreening. With it, you can also select whether you want to scan in colour, grayscale or black and white, as well as choose to enhance or diminish red, green and blue colour values of an image. Finally, the software enables you to select the orientation of your scan, rotating the source document 90, 180 or 270 degrees before you even insert a page into the scanner. It’s a nifty feature actually, and saves some time in post processing.

Going low and getting high

Output wise you get a decent selection, of formats, including jpeg, multi tiff, and pdf, and you can specify the compression level from high, medium and low. Alas, there is no PSD option. Of course the latter yields larger files than the former, with an A4 size page scanned as a JPEG weighing in at 1 MB for a 200 resolution scan and 22 MB at 600 dpi. Bumping the resolution down to 300 yielded a more manageable 7 MB file, although the sweet spot, size wise, seemed to be 400 dpi. With the quality still set at maximum, this gave a 10 MB file – not that much bigger than 300 dpi but still half the size of a 600 dpi scan with a bit better quality.

That, however, was for JPEG output. What about TIFF? On 400 dpi, the scan was a much bigger 42 mb, while the 200 dpi gave a 11 MB file. Scanned at the maximum resolution, 600 dpi, the same scan weighed in at 98 MB.

Finally, a single sheet 400 dpi PDF was 1 MB, but gave one the option to add additional pages before rendering as a single PDF file, so naturally the more pages one added, the higher the final PDF size would be.

A few extra features

Also worth mentioning, particularly for business users, is that the scanner comes with Epson Document Capture Pro software. With this, users can scan directly to the cloud, SharePoint and the web. It’s a nifty addition, and shows how integrated cloud is to everything, that even scanners have a cloud component.

I was also quite pleased with how the scanner handled colour. With no post processing or brightness, colour or contrast adjustments being made in the software itself – it still replicated an array of colours quite well, from bright yellows to rich greens and even subtler lavenders.  

There were two issues I did find with my review unit, a minor one and one that was more serious. With regards to the former, I found that sometimes the scanner wouldn’t take to rough edges – I other had to break out my scissors prior to scanning, and cut away ragged edges of documents, or use the bottom of a page to feed the paper through.

The glaring issue I had though, at least on my review unit, was a single black line running down  the page. To its credit, Epson does pack the scanner with a cleaning kit – a small dry strip of paper which you run through the scanner in maintenance mode. Unfortunately this didn’t solve my issue, but I was advised that it was more than likely a fault with my review unit. Finally, I was a bit disappointed to discover the scanner cannot do both sides of a page simultaneously, a time saving feature that I would have liked to have seen included.

The final analysis

Returning to the original question, would you want to include this portable scanner in your gear arsenal, my answer is it depends. I could certainly see it serving two groups of people very well – the aforementioned business users, at whom the device is actually aimed, and artists. For the former, it can certainly serve as a viable way to share and backup hard copy documents, with results that are far better than just taking a snapshot of a document using one’s phone.

For artists, it also offers a convenient way to save their artwork, and offers a quick way to get their sketches into their computer for further processing. For these two types of users, I would say yes, the DS-30 would certainly make a valuable companion to one’s gadget arsenal. The device has a retail price of R2 100.

PROS
Easy to use, Portable, Offers several output formats
CONS
Bit fussy when grasping pages, Doesn’t offer double sided scanning
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