Connected: IRIScan portable scanner nearly perfect

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The IRIScan Book 2 portable scanner is as close to a perfect product as I have seen in a long time. Measuring about 12 inches long and narrow, like a long stick of butter, when you slide it over a book or sheet of paper, it magically picks up the images. (Don't try that with butter.)

Unlike that multifunction printer with which you usually scan, it doesn't need to be connected to a computer while you're scanning. So you can take it anywhere your material is. And because it is not a flatbed, you can easily scan books, even if they don't sit flat.

The designers made a terrific decision when they decided to scan directly onto a microSD flash memory card -- the type you find in your smartphone. That gives it plenty of storage for documents and unties the scanner from the computer.

I also scanned while connected to a laptop via USB cable. That's when the microSD card looks to the computer like just another disk drive, allowing you to copy your scans onto any disk on your computer.

The IRIScan Book 2 is powered by 2 AA batteries. Once you drop them in, you're ready to hold down the scan button for a few seconds to turn it on; then for each scan, just momentarily press the scan button again. Press it again to stop.

The IRIScan gives you choices: whether to scan in black and white or color, and whether to scan at 300 dpi or 600 dpi. It's simple to use and gives good scanned output in PDF format.

While the hardware on the IRIScan is great, the accompanying software, ReadIRIS 12, is merely handy. It will help you do optical character recognition of your scanned documents, and convert them into Word or Excel format from PDF. It also works on image files that didn't come from the scanner. And it can save documents in PDF format after you have converted the text.

I found the recognition to be in the 90 percent-plus correct range when I clicked "Recognize + Save" for a typed document that shows right-side up on the ReadIRIS screen. If it was scanned upside down or is handwritten text, the recognition is very low.

The resulting Word document is actually a bunch of text boxes, sometimes in mixed fonts, combined with graphics. Not a bad result, but likely not the way you would have created it from scratch. So you're likely to need to do some editing and proofing if you plan to use the resulting document professionally.

IRIScan Book 2 including ReadIRIS software is available at for $129.


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