I can’t say it enough – I love my job!  I get to test and evaluate so many fun, useful and functional products. This little $200 Brother DS-700D scanner is another fine example of just such a product.

Here is a portable and lightweight duplex scanner that works with Windows PCs and Macs.  As has been my experience with Brother products for several years, all that is necessary for enjoyment and success is to follow instructions to install the software, connect the product and start using it.  Maybe it will be necessary to update software, but there will be a reminder (with Internet connection).

Once connected, the last thing needed is calibration using a supplied sheet for this purpose.  That’s it. Ready to rock!

Supplied software includes Presto! BizCard 5 and Presto! PageManager 9 for Brother.

The former is launched when the mission is scanning business cards.  The latter is for scanning the other things, including paper, photos, card stock, insurance cards, driver’s licenses and laminated sheets.  And as indicated above, this baby scans in duplex – BOTH sides in one pass, a unique and beneficial feature in its size and price class.

Business card scanning is almost magical.  The software reads the scanned card and attempts, usually with a high degree of accuracy, to use optical character recognition to discern the card content based upon name, address, phone number, and company name along with additional pertinent fields as chosen by the user.  Once scanned, the user can correct any errors and then send the info to most popular contact managers or address books in Windows and Mac environments.

Imagine being able to quickly scan through that stack of business cards you’ve been meaning to organize and actually use, and then keep current with subsequent cards as they are received.  The Brother DS-700D gobbles up the cards, one by one.

Scanning the rest of the paper possibilities, Presto! PageManager 9 for Brother allows users to scan natively up to 600dpi in 48-bit or 24-bit color or 16-bit (gray scale) monochrome up to 10 pages per minute.  Choose to scan to PDF, Microsoft Excel, Word or PowerPoint formats, Adobe Acrobat, and more.

The scanning interface affords a high degree of customization. Settings allow saving to a file type, auto cropping of business cards or pictures and selection of document types (Photo, doc, business card, letter, even magazine page with photo only or text and photo).  Choose scan mode of color, black & white or gray scale, resolution from 72-800dpi, and a few more tweaks.  If it can’t do it, you don’t need it!

Powered solely by the host computer’s USB using the supplied cable, the little scanner is truly portable.   It even comes with a handy travel sleeve.

Where does this gem fit in among the continuum of competitors?  Two other portable scanners come immediately to mind.

On the lower end of the scale, but not a low-end product, is the handy Doxie scanner, a $149 one-side-only slower scanner without business card software, but worthy in every other way.  Doxie epitomizes simplicity and is targeted at consumers, teachers and students.

On the high end is the Fujitsu S1300 at about $255 online. It’s much larger and slower, can be powered by a supplied AC adapter at up to 8ppm or by USB only at up to 4ppm.  USB connection requires TWO inputs on the host computer – one for power and one for data communication.  In reality, scanning is usually slower, BUT, with its size and configuration, this device includes an automatic document feeder (ADF) capable of 10 pages at a time.  When that stack finishes, software asks if there is more, enabling multiple stacks of scanned pages to be saved as one continuous PDF, for example.

Fujitsu is known for its scanning expertise and robust scanning products that have proven to be heavy-duty business-class workhorses.  Using the ADF, documents are “staged” for scanning with near perfect alignment virtually every time. The company has tried to deliver many of the features found on its larger, more fully featured and bulletproof desktop models. The size of this device is about double that of the Brother DS-700D, making it conveniently portable for only the serious business traveler who simply MUST have along a workhorse scanner like this.

I have both of the other models and both perform very well, targeting different markets.  The DS-700D is at the sweet spot in the middle of the pack, with a good price and superior speed of up to a screaming (for a portable scanner) 10 pages per minute, but remember, that is 10 pages, each one manually fed.  You won’t realistically get 10 pages scanned, unless it is a race to complete such a task in the least amount of time.

The Brother model is easily portable and only a little bit larger than the Doxie, offering the kind of true portability and performance that most users wanting both a home and travel scanner will like.  For example, while traveling, I can scan my receipts in preparation for expense reports.

Another somewhat competitive entry deserves mention, as well.  Neat Receipts, from The Neat Company, has carved out a successful niche for business and home users with their $200 portable NeatReceipts device.  This portable scanner is oriented for business and home users with the emphasis on receipt and document scanning.  Receipts are scanned in preparation for expense and tax management while documents are scanned with an emphasis on organization (think digital filing cabinet).  NeatReceipts does not directly compete with this Brother portable scanner, as it is not what one would want for more all-around scanning capabilities.

In my tests, I placed the Brother scanner nearby to my laptop while working here at Gadget Central.  I’ve gone through a test stack of business cards with about 95% success. That is, about an estimated 95% of the time, I have not had to correct what the scanner “sees” before each card’s data is sent to my Mac’s Address Book program.

As with all single-sheet sheet-fed scanners (the DS-700D is one), sometimes the object scanned is slightly off kilter, a bit crooked, known as “skewed.” This occurs despite the best of intentions and care, placing the object hard right and squarely against the right “wall” of the scanner opening. Within the settings for Mac scanning is a check box called Skew image that tells the software to try and automatically straighten out the image, if needed.  Windows users can perform this magic after the scan through the Windows software. There is no “de-skewing” capability I know about in the Doxie, but it is built in to all Fujitsu scanners.  Doxie and Fujitsu also allow users the ability to scan to whatever file type (JPEG, PDF, etc.) is needed for both Mac and Windows users.

Best pricing for this new Brother scanner is not much different than its suggested “street price” of $200.  You know I looked in your behalf and normally find Amazon about the best. At least there is currently free shipping from Amazon.  Do your own search to find what is best at the moment.  I expect that there will be at least some price erosion in the weeks and months ahead, but why wait, just to save a few bucks.

The bottom line is that the Brother DS-700D, at its price and as a portable, speedy scanner, is just right for the average consumer who wants to cut down on paper clutter AND scan photos to keep or send to others.  It’s another winner from Brother!

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