Despite the proliferation of apps capable for turning an iPhone camera into a handheld mobile scanner, nothing quite beats the quality of dedicated imaging hardware. Combined with an auto document feeder (ADF), document scanners convert business cards, invoices, and other paperwork into digital equivalents in a jiffy.
No AC required
The Epson DS-320 ($249; available on Amazon) checks off nearly everything on a potential portable document scanner buyer’s wish list: It’s small (11.3 x 3.5 x 2.0 inches), lightweight (2.4 lbs.), and high quality, thanks to the three-color RGB LED capable of scanning documents at up to 600 dpi optical resolution. It’s fast, too, with a 20-page auto document feeder for scanning color, grayscale, or black-and-white sheets up to 44 inches long at 25 pages per minute using the most common 300 dpi setting.
The DS-320 also scans both sides of a page in a single pass (better known as duplex mode) while consuming a modest 8W of power while in use. The latter is important, because it allows the DS-320 to be used without AC power from a single USB 3.0 connection to a MacBook or PC. (A USB cable and AC adapter are included in the box.)
Unfortunately, Epson has somewhat hindered the portability of this model. Unlike cheaper models in Epson's lineup, the DS-320 has no wireless connectivity of any kind. There’s also no internal battery, so this won’t replace the likes of Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX100 ($229 MSRP; available on Amazon) for those who prefer scanning to a smartphone or tablet. For that, look to Epson’s ES-300W ($299 MSRP; $250 on Amazon), a slightly thicker model with nearly matching specs at the same retail price, along with the ability to scan wirelessly.
Although slightly larger, heavier, and more expensive than Fujitsu’s popular wireless competitor, the DS-320 works more like a traditional desktop scanner. The latch on the front allows the top of the unit to open revealing the input tray, which extends upward into a V-shaped paper guide to comfortably support longer pages.
The flimsy adjustable plastic edge guides are the only potential downside to the hardware. When stored, they lie flat against the input tray, flipping into position when you press on the small tabs; often they just get in the way. There’s also a card slot on the front, enabled by sliding the mode selector to the left and inserting cards face up, but in my tests, my scans frequently wound up crooked.
Scan quality is quite good, exceeding that of both all-in-one Epson models in my home office and on par with the ScanSnap iX500. I was impressed with scans of artwork and graphic-rich documents, but the results were less fabulous with color photo prints. Epson bundles a full complement of software with the DS-320, including the company’s own quite capable Document Capture and the cumbersome Epson Scan. The hardware is TWAIN and ISIS compliant, making it compatible with a wide range of software.
Although the lack of wireless scanning and mobile device support is a disappointment, the Epson DS-320 otherwise scores high marks for quality, speed, and convenience in a home or small office environment.
Epson DS-320 Mobile ScannerMacworld Rating
- Compact, lightweight portable document scanner
- Auto document feeder holds up to 20 pages
- Powered by single USB cable connected to Mac or PC
- No wireless or mobile scanning capability
- Flimsy adjustable page guides
- Same cost as Epson’s equivalent wireless scanner