Document scanners, with their automatic document feeders (ADFs) and workhorse builds, are great for offices where they can sit in one place and churn through paper, but they're far too clunky to be anything but stationary. Sometimes you need to be able to scan documents while on the road – that's where portable sheet-fed scanners come in. These lightweight scanners, which come in sizes ranging from a deck of cards to a box of crackers, are designed to fit into a backpack. Most are USB-powered, so you won't need to lug around ax extra power brick everywhere you go. Typically they require users to feed one sheet through at a time, and their scan quality and capabilities are limited compared to their fully-featured desktop brethren.
In this category, the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 (Est. $180) gets excellent reviews. Its very small foorprint comes at the cost of a document feeder, and there are no duplexing capabilities – but it does have a continuous feed feature. While this only allows you to feed one side of a document through at a time, you can save multiple scans as a single file. Reviews indicate that this function works adequately. Scan quality for black-text documents is very good overall, though Laptop Magazine's Dan Howley reports that the ink has a "a slightly hazy look to it." Howley adds that color scans came out "excellent."
Judging from reviews, one caveat is the lack of driver support for third-party applications. The included proprietary driver limits you from scanning from any other software than what's included in the box – something many experts and owners grouse over. The included ScanSnap software does let you scan directly to PDF format and a variety of Microsoft applications, as well as cloud services like Google Docs or Evernote. Among portable scanners, durability is a chief concern considering these models must also brave the wear and tear of the road. User reviews suggest the ScanSnap S1100 is great on this mark, though some care in handling is suggested. The ScanSnap S1100 is compatible with both PC and Mac computers.
For true portability, however, it's hard for any scanner to top the Xerox Mobile Scanner (Est. $185). This portable document scanner doesn't need to be tethered to a computer. It comes with a Wi-Fi-enabled Eye-Fi memory card, which lets you transmit scans wirelessly to Android and iOS devices; PC and Mac computers; and to cloud storage via a variety of services. You can also save files directly to an SD card or USB flash drive. These features alone earn it much praise from experts and owners alike. It maxes out at 300 dots per inch (dpi) – half of what the 600-dpi ScanSnap S1100 offers – though scan quality is adequate for text documents as well as things like business cards. If true standalone portability is top priority, this is an excellent choice.