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Product Review: Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner
2/22/2011
The Flip-Pal's whole shtick is that it's a scanner that you can flip -- it weighs barely more than a pound. Who ever heard of such a thing? And would its scans be worth flip? We tested it to find out.
Looking for a scanner that's small enough to take with you to the library? The Flip-Pal mobile scanner is a new option from a Colorado company that has received accolades from the Craft and Hobby Association. The Flip-Pal's whole shtick is that it's a scanner that you can flip -- it weighs barely more than a pound. Who ever heard of such a thing? And would its scans be worth flip? We tested it to find out.
Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner
Price: $149.99
Manufacturer: Rocky Mountain Ventures Co., (888) 420-3484, Flip-Pal.com
Power source: four AA batteries (included)
Storage method: SD or SDHC cards (2GB SD card included)
Operating systems: compatible with any computer with a USB port
Biggest draws: a flatbed you can flip; scanning resolution of 300 or 660 dpi; ability to scan textured objects
Drawbacks: only saves to JPG format; maximum individual scan size is 4x6 inches

Ease of use

After opening the box, I was scanning within minutes. Because the Flip-Pal saves your scans to a memory card, you don't have to attach it to a computer or install any software before you get going. When you turn it on the first time, it'll ask you to set the date and time, and then you're ready to scan. Put what you want to scan under the lid; the clear back panel lets you see if your photo is lined up correctly in the scanner. Or if you want to flip it, just squeeze the corners of the base of the lid, and it pops off so you have uninhibited access to the scanning area. Press the green button to scan, and voila -- your image will display on the tiny screen, and it's saved automatically.

When you're ready to transfer your images to a computer, just remove the included SD memory card from the Flip-Pal and insert it into your PC's memory card slot, or plug in the provided USB card reader to your computer. If you worry that you'll fill up the 2GB card on your next research trip, you can always buy more -- SD memory cards generally cost less than $20. A counter on the scanner's screen tells you how many more photos the card can store. When I started with a fresh 2GB card it was more than 1,000, so you'd have to be a very busy beaver to run out of space.

If the object you want to scan is bigger than 4x6 inches, you can use the included stitching software to create a larger image. Note: That software is only compatible with Windows computers, but Mac users can opt for a third-party image stitching software such as DoubleTake.

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