ONE OF THE DRAWBACKS of sketchnoting events is that while I would love to bring my Canon LiDE flatbed scanner to capture sketchnotes on site, it's just too big and bulky to carry along. I've adapted to using my iPhone to take pictures, then scanning my high-resolution artwork when I get back home.
For the last week and a half, I've been testing out the new Doxie Flip scanner—a new, $149 portable flatbed scanner, sent to me for review by the folks at Doxie. It's small, light, runs on battery power, and makes use of an SD card to transfer scans between itself and PCs or other devices.
The scanning bed is slightly larger than a Pocket Size Moleskine notebook—perfect for a portable sketchnote scanner. Because it runs on batteries, you don't need a wall wart, and the SD card eliminates the need for a cable.
I love this little thing. Let me tell you why.
Simple and Effective
I love that the Flip is simple. The small size combined with battery power and SD card use offers a refreshing simplicity in a market where most devices are more complex than they need to be.
It reminds me of the old Palm Pilot devices I used to love—simple, effective and made for a specific task. The Flip is designed for scanning on the go.
Run out of battery? Carry 4 spare AA batteries, or use 4 rechargeable AAs. Worst case, you can stop at nearly any store or gas station for batteries.
Need more storage? Bring a few spare SD cards, or buy a new one. If someone needs a scan, I can put images on their SD card, no problem. The scanning capacity is limited only by the size of your card.
I can scan books, photos, papers—whatever—in traditional flat bed mode, using the little white cover to keep light out while scanning.
Or I can remove the scanning lid and flip the Flip over to scan. Because the back of the Flip is glass, you can lay it on top of the thing you want to scan, see through the device and scan. What you see is what you scan.
Sketchnoting & Illustration Uses
Having the Flip along on a sketchnoting gig or travel experience is the perfect tool for the job. It provides immediate, high-resolution scans I can import into my Mac or iPad or share with clients or friends. Or I can skip the Mac altogether and view scans on the iPad with an SD card adapter.
For illustration work I often escape to a local cafe to work and wait to get home to scan pieces for an illustration. With the Flip, I can bring my MacBook Air along, scan immediately and work on the illustration—all at the cafe.
The 600 dpi scan option is the resolution I typically use for illustration work because it captures enough detail for either pixel work in Photoshop or to capture the inked feel of my work with Vector Magic and Illustrator.
The Flip is compact (10.23" x 6.46" x 1.34”) which is just slightly larger than a Large Moleskine notebook (5" x 8.5"). It's light (1.26 lbs) with a 4" x 6" scanning bed that's ideal for Pocket Moleskines and Field Notes notebooks. It's powered by 4 AA batteries and uses a 4GB SD card (both included).
It's roughly the size of a hardcover book—not bad for hauling around, particularly when compared to my bigger Canon LiDE flatbed scanner.
The Doxie Flip features a small screen to display scans on the card, access to settings, battery level and a preview of your scans. While the preview is pretty tiny, it works well enough to verify you have everything you need on your scan.
The Doxie software for Mac and Windows reads the SD card and provides a stitching feature, in case you need to scan larger sources in multiple steps.
The Flip can create JPG or PNG files at either 300 or 600 dpi. The included software works nicely with Dropbox, Evernote, Facebook and Ancestry.com as well. It's easily downloaded from the Doxie site.
The ability to capture and stitch multiple smaller scans together with the Doxie desktop app is a handy feature. Of course, any app that can read PNG or JPG images can extract or modify scans from the SD card. I typically do my work in Photoshop for editing or stitching together images.
Pricing & Value
The Doxie Flip is $149. If you need a flatbed scanner for sketchnoting, capturing book pages or other items on the go, it's a good value.
When compared to the $80 Canon LiDE 210, the Flip is expensive, so if you don't have a huge need for portability, the Canon would be the better value.
Buying tools means balancing trade-offs. If you need a small, portable scanner, you can't beat the Doxie Flip.
Doxie Flip Brief Video Overview
Here's a 5 minute video I made to show you the size relationship to my sketchbooks and some of the interesting features and uses for the Doxie Flip:
The Doxie Flip is a great tool—simple, light and effective. It's perfect for portable flatbed scanning where a bigger device is impractical and a phone camera isn't good enough for clean, high-resolution scans.
While $149 isn't cheap, for the right person The Doxie Flip a valuable tool that will pay for itself in use after use on the road.
Here are a few links that may help your research on the Doxie Flip: