A Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Review

Flip Size

Truly Mobile AND Compact!

When I was at a scrapbooking retreat this past fall, I got a chance to see the Flip-Pal mobile scanner.  It intrigued me and the fact that the person who had it was giving it a glowing endorsement also made me sit up and take notice.  I have a flat-bed scanner but the thing is huge, heavy, and tethered to my computer desk and computer.  It isn’t going anywhere.  This little scanner, on the other hand, would be something that I could throw in my purse or bag and take with me on-the-go.  That’s why I put it on my Christmas list and the Commander, er, Santa, stuck it under our tree.  Whee!

First, let me confess that I was waiting for the Commander to help me set it up before I gave it a try.  Well, I got tired of waiting and decided to check out some YouTube videos and the company’s website to see if it would be easy enough for me to take out of the box and figure out on my own.  Let me assure you, it is EASY!  Now that I’ve scanned my first set of pictures, let me tell you what I think of it.

1.  The size and weight are a real plus.  In the picture above, I put a 4″ x 6″ notebook and a 2″ sticky pad next to it to give you an idea of just how big it is.  The scanner measures approximately 10″ long by 6 1/2″ wide.  It weighs about 1 pound, 8 oz.

2.  You can start scanning right out of the box.  The scanner comes with a 2 GB memory card (which is where the scans are stored until you put them on your computer), batteries, and a USB stick adapter that you can put the memory card into, in case your computer doesn’t have a SD card slot.

Scans show up in the Preview Window.

Scans show up in the Preview Window.

3.  A preview window lets you see the scan. The window is small but it’s not there for you to do editing.  It’s there just so you can see that the item was scanned.  There is also a battery level indicator (more on the batteries later) and a counter that shows you how many scans you have remaining that will fit on the SD card.  The stars on the right side indicate what dpi resolution setting you have it set at, either 300 or 600 dpi.

4.  The software program for processing the scans is included on the SD card.  You don’t have to do anything but stick the card into your computer, locate the files, make a few clicks, and the software will load.  If you should ever need to reload the software onto your computer, it’s easy to do at the Flip-Pal website.  Software updates are also made available at the website and registered owners are notified of new updates as they become available.

 

Typical flatbed scanning is a breeze.

Typical flatbed scanning is a breeze.

5.  Scanning pictures up to 4 x 6″ is fast.  I was pretty impressed with how quickly this little scanner scanned my snapshots.  You basically put the picture face-down on the scanning area, close the lid and press the green button on the side.  When the scan is completed, you’ll see the picture in the preview window.

Taking multiple scans of larger pictures.

Taking multiple scans of larger pictures.

6.  You can scan larger pictures and documents using the “Stitch” feature.  If you want to scan a larger document or picture, you pop the lid off and flip the scanner.  Then you start scanning overlapping segments of the picture, using etched guidelines around the edges of the screen to help you overlap your scanned areas.  I found this a tad tedious.  In the above picture, the photo that I was scanning was an 8″ x 10″ photo.  I took six scans to get it all down with proper overlaps.  I have to admit that I was skeptical about the software’s ability to put the whole thing back together again without obvious misalignments or gaps.

The scanned photo, after the software stitched it together.

The scanned photo, after the software stitched it together.

Well, here is the photo after the software did its magic.  Wow, it was pretty amazing.  Still, I think for just scanning around the house, I’d tend to use my large scanner for larger photos and documents.  It would be so much faster than taking multiple scans of one document.  However, I can see where you might be at a relative’s house and not have the luxury of having your large scanner available.  That’s when this Flip-Pal feature would really come in handy.  Or you might be at a library or research center and want to make a quick scan of a document.  Incidentally, the Library of Congress and the National Archives allow you to bring in a Flip-Pal scanner when doing your research.  It is sufficiently low-light that it won’t hurt their resources.  Other facilities are apparently on a case-by-case basis.  Some historical societies and research facilities will let you use this scanner and others won’t, so if you are planning to bring one, I’d call ahead to check on whether or not it will be allowed.

Cons:

1. Battery Life – the manufacturer says that the batteries will last for approximately 150 scans.  The good news is that you can use rechargeable batteries in the scanner.  That’s what I plan to do.  I use a Sanyo Ni-MH Battery Charger along with Eneloop batteries so I plan to always have some charged up and ready to go in my little Flip-Pal carry bag.

2.  Getting the Toolbox software to load is initially a little fiddly.  I’m not a computer genius and I’m afraid that my Windows Install Wizard has spoiled me.  I just figure that when I pop something into my computer or download something, an install window will pop up  that will start walking me through the steps to install.  That’s why, when I put the SD card into my computer, I waited for something to happen but nothing did.  I had to go get the Commander.  He had me follow some simple steps to find the file mentioned in the Quick Start Guide and then, once I did some clicking (can’t ever remember if I’m supposed to double-click or single-click so that’s why I get the Commander), things started happening and my scans showed up and my Toolbox window popped up and we were good to go.    I made the decision to “cut and paste” the scans into a folder in “My Pictures”  on the computer (except for the ones I needed to stitch together) and then I imported them into my Creative Memories Memory Manager program where I did final cropping, rotation, and color adjustment.  The Toolbox program DOES do color adjustment but I just happen to prefer my Memory Manager program.  By “cutting and pasting”, I deleted the scans from the SD card, keeping plenty of space available.

Bottom line is that this little scanner is another handy tool for the scrapbooker and genealogist.  You can take it with you to family gatherings and scan photos right on the spot.  You can scan photos that are in albums, without having to try to remove them and you don’t have to take off any protective plastic covering from the album pages, either.  I’m certainly glad that it showed up under my Christmas tree and am really looking forward to exploring even more of its capabilities in the months ahead.

 

 

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