Need a Magic Wand? Get your hands on the DocuPen!

The DocuPen RC800 is certainly a little “magical wand”. It does take a bit of practice, but it’s small convenient size makes it worth the effort.

What is magical about scanning pages and documents in this manner is that the DocuPen is eight inches wide – enough for most pages and books. And you are supposed to be able to scan as much as 36″ down in one motion. And then put the Pen back in your pocket or bag. Heck! I remember when scanners were so big you had to set them on a table and they just LIVED there forever.

The first thing you have to do is make sure the scanner is juiced up. The manual suggests that keeping the device plugged in via it’s USB cable for about an hour should fill it up. There’s no “Light On” indicator or anything to give you that warm feeling that Something is happening. You just have to kinda trust that it’s being powered up. So far I have not run out of “gas”, so I think I can say it works!

Then you have to install the software. And you are asked to do this before you use the scanner and install it in Administrator user. Sigh, Windows can be So annoying. Ah, well. At least PaperPort from Nuance asks where you wish to install. Mostly the driver for the DocuPen is in the C: directory. (I’m one of those people that hates putting everything in C: so I really appreciate polite programs).

So, I’m all ready to start scanning. Like I said, it takes a bit of practice. Fortunately, digital is “cheap” – if you messed up, try scanning again. I decided to try scanning some old photographs – being more of an artist than a lawyer with tons of paper. I found a photo of my dog – who has long since passed this “veil of tears” (to use my father’s expression).

Click on the thumbnail to get the full image (all pics here are thumbsnails that should be clicked on). I saved this as a jpg with no compression so you could see the unadulterated scan. The original photo is slightly blurry and it really looks like that. It only took me a couple of tries to get the feel of slowly rolling down the Pen in the most effective way. You position the scanner at the top of your photo. Turn it on – it lights up. Choose the res, color or B/W. Then slowly and steadily roll the Pen down until you have scanned as much as you want. The lights will flash as the image is saved to memory. Then the lights will go off.

The claim is that the DocuPen can store about 100 pages into it’s 8 megs of on-board memory. This must refer to black/white text because I know I can only get about two color photo scans at high res before I run out of space. I tried sliding a 32 meg microSD card in the DocuPen but I think it only recognizes 128 and 256 meg sizes. It didn’t seem to notice my 32 meg card. Either I installed it wrong or it just doesn’t use that size. I’ll be checking on that. You really need to expand the memory in order to use the DocuPen as a completely portable scanning device. The idea is to be able to scan any paper or picture no matter where you are – and not be tethered to your computer. Scan And Go!

Using PaperPort

The magic continues. Take the included USB cable and plug the DocuPen into your computer. Start up PaperPort. Click Scan and that brings up the Scanner Control window.
Make sure your Pen is turned on and start downloading the scanned image. Even when it’s on, a requester insists on popping up reminding me to Turn On the Pen. Arg. Anyway, Since I have ACDSee associated with image files all I have to do is double click the image that pops up in the Control Window to get a good look at what is in the Pen. If it looks fine I save it to one of the My PaperPort Documents folders.

The image will initially be save in Tiff format. You can then organize your original scanned images into whatever categories/folders/formats that fits your needs.

Yes, those folders are different colors. Your eyes are NOT fooling you. PaperPort lets you change the color of the folders making it easy to identify your important or favorite directory. Now, while this is nice, the feature that REALLY makes me happy is found along the bottom of that window. Please throw your gaze at the row of icons representing a list of programs which exist on my system. I can select a scanned image from the large center area (in this case a dog) and DROP it into the program of my choice. That starts up the program and away I go! In other words, if I wish to save my beagle picture in a pdf, all I have to do is drop it into my Acrobat icon! If I need to image process it, I can drop it in the Photoshop icon.
And what if there’s a program you like to use and it doesn’t happen to be listed? Simply add it in there! Yup! See the ACDSee icon? I actually added it and did all that without even reading the manual. Right click on the bar and a menu shows up which includes the words, “Send to bar > New Program Link”. Browse for the location of your program and Voila! Program icon appears on the bar ready for use.

Now, as an artist I normally use my various image processing programs to do whatever magic I need on my pictures. But for those not so inclined or when you don’t feel like starting up another program, PaperPort has a few simple features to mess around with.

You can crop, alter the balance, rotate, erase parts of your picture, add text, draw something in a variety of colors and do other sorts of things. Adding notes is probably best for scanned documents, but obviously can be used for photos.

If you have scanned text either from a business card or a document, just drop the scan into wordpad or if you have Word and bam! the OCR software makes an instant text or doc file. You may have to make a few corrections – almost all OCR software requires some editing – but it will save you a lot of typing!

I’ll be continuing my examinations of this device so don’t be surprised when I return with another article.

Here’s some important features of the DocuPen I should mention before I leave off:

  • rechargeable lithium-ion battery
  • Optical Registration
  • zippered sheep skin Leather Case for carrying around safely (and, yes, it’s very nice!)
  • dual-roller guiding system – makes it easy to Roll down your photos and papers for an accurate scan.
  • Expandable MicroSD memory slot
  • as an additional accessory you can get a Universal Mobile Charger – in case one is not near a computer with a USB port!

    DocuPen is supported by MAC OSX 10.3.9 and up AND NOW even Mac Intel based machines. I’m very interested in this development and will report as more info becomes available!

    Written by Cecilia