Whether you’re running an at-home business or are looking for something that’s easy to tuck away, investing in a great portable document scanner can make life a whole lot easier. The best portable scanners are lightweight with slim designs that you can fit into any work bag or stow in any car, and have the features you need, namely color and black-and-white capabilities, Wi-Fi-enabled capabilities, and duplex scanning for double-sided paperwork.
When searching for a high-quality portable scanner, you’ll likely want something that’s lightweight and easy to store in a bag or briefcase. Every scanner on this list is lightweight to the tune of under 4 pounds, but the exact weight you’re looking for will depend on your needs. Keep in mind that the lighter models tend to offer less functionality, which is a tradeoff to consider.
You also want to consider the features that you find necessary. For example, if you’re dealing with more complex paperwork, you may want to go all out with a duplex portable scanner that can scan two-sided documents. And if you’re often away from your laptop or computer, be sure whichever option you go with has Wi-Fi connectivity that will scan your docs into the cloud for you.
One other important thing to keep top of mind is whether you’ll have access to an outlet when you need to scan. While many of the scanners below can be powered by connecting them to your computer or laptop (or are battery powered), not all of them can.
Not sure which portable scanner is the best? Check out these four options to help you find the best fit.
1. The Most Affordable & Portable Scanner
- Weight: 1.5 pounds
- Dimensions: 11.9 by 2 by 1.5 inches (length by width by height)
- Capabilities: Color and black-and-white scanning
- Requires outlet? No
For an affordable price, you can snag this Brother portable scanner to take with you on the go. It weighs just 1.5 pounds, and it’s less than a foot long, so you can easily store it most work bags. It also scans in high-res color and black and white, and you can use the Brother app to inform your scanner’s software of where to store documents on your computer. To use, all you have to do is plug in this machine to your laptop’s USB port using the included cable and you’re good to go.
If you’re willing to splurge, there may be other scanners on this list that provide more functionality. For example, the Brother scanner here doesn’t have Wi-Fi access, so you’ll have to plug it into your computer to scan things there. And, it doesn’t have duplex, double-sided capabilities. That said, for on-the-go use, the portability and outlet-free experience of this scanner makes it well worth your money.
Glowing Amazon review: “I love this scanner. For Windows 10 the software installation was easy and the scanner works very well.I use it to scan all of my receipts and important documents and 600dpi the digital PDF results are fantastic.”
2. The Expert Pick With The Most Functionality
- Weight: 3.3 pounds
- Dimensions: 11.7 by 3.9 by 3.4 inches (length by width by height)
- Capabilities: Color and black-and-white scanning, Wi-Fi capabilities, duplex scanning
- Requires outlet? Yes
It’s pricier but, when independently tested by Wirecutter, this upgraded Brother scanner offered the best scanning experience and has tons of features that make it a great addition to your mobile workspace. For one, it is Wi-Fi enabled so you can scan your documents to devices, a thumb drive, or the cloud easily. It also has a duplex scanning function that automatically scans both sides of your documents in a single pass, and a 20-page capacity so you can easily scan multi-page and double-sided documents. Its automatic color detection feature optimizes your images to makes your scans crystal clear.
However, there are a few reasons this scanner isn’t higher on this list. First, it is the heaviest scanner on this list. And, you’ll need outlet access to use this scanner. Lastly, while you can also use a micro USB cable to connect this scanner to your computer to scan things (as opposed to relying on Wi-Fi), said cable is not included in your purchase. This is the one often purchased along side this scanner. But, if those aren’t deal breakers for you, this scanner is likely the best experience for you.
Glowing Amazon review: “Excellent machine. So easy to use. Portable. I scan docs in my car after appointments. Saves me a lot of time and hassle. Gives me the opportunity to take more appointments which means more money in my pocket!!”
3. A Lightweight, Wi-Fi Scanner That’s Battery Operated
- Weight: 1.96 pounds
- Dimensions: 12.25 x 2.25 x 1.75 inches (length by width by height)
- Capabilities: Color and black-and-white scanning, Wi-Fi capabilities
- Requires outlet? No
This Wi-Fi-enabled scanner has a blend of features that make it great for on the go use. For one, it is battery powered and can scan up to 400 pages on a single charge, so outlet access is not a factor. Secondly, it can sync up to any available Wi-Fi network and can send your scans directly to your cloud storage space — no laptop required. So if you’re far away from your computer and an outlet, you can still use this scanner, so long as you have Wi-Fi. And, this is the lightest Wi-Fi-enabled scanner on this list. So if Wi-Fi capabilities and portability are your two biggest concerns, this scanner is a fantastic choice. This has both black-and-white and color capabilities, and you can also scan documents via a USB port using the included USB cable.
Glowing Amazon review: “It is definitely one of the best things i have every purchased. I only meant to scan a few receipts and a box of loose photos but it is so incredibly easy and quick i scanned several thousand items in the first week and am now literally digitalizing everything in sight, photos, receipts, documents, letters - everything.”
4. A Duplex Scanner That Doesn’t Need An Outlet
- Weight: 3.08 pounds
- Dimensions: 11.18 by 3.9 by 3.03 inches (length by width by height)
- Capabilities: Color and black-and-white scanning, duplex scanning
- Requires outlet? No
This Fujitsu ScanSnap portable scanner earns honorable mention on this list for a few reasons. Not only does it offer duplex scanning for two-sided documents, but it can hold up to 10 pages at a time, just shy of the expert pick above. It also features “one-touch scanning,” which means you don’t have to continually turn and feed papers into it. Plus, the software automatically cleans up and straightens images while sharpening text to create flawless documents at the touch of a single button. And, unlike the Brother duplex scanner above, this one does not require access to an outlet (though you can power it via the included outlet charger), which is a big perk for scanning on the go. Note: It does not have Wi-Fi capabilities, so you’ll need to plug this into your computer using the included USB cord. Once you download your documents to your computer you can send them to your phone or tablet when you have Wi-Fi access.
Glowing Amazon review: “Scansnap is like some little genie just waiting to help you - if you scan crookedly, it straightens, if you scan sideways or upside down - it's very easy to fix, if you want to add documents to something already scanned - its a snap, if you're scanning one-sided and suddenly want to switch to two-sided, it takes two clicks. [...] Buy one and your life will be better.”