Pentax DSmobile USB Scanner – Is It Worth It
If you’re looking for a way to ditch the pile of dead trees that weigh you down on the road, you need a scanner. And in an ideal world, your scanner would help you get everything into your computer digitally without weighing more than the pile of paperwork you’re trying to reduce. The DSmobile USB from Pentax is more prince than a frog, but it has some warts that you should know about before you jettison your file folders for good.
The DSmobile is nice and compact, fitting easily into a case with a notebook computer. Even better, the machine draws power from its USB cable instead of an AC adapter, which means one less cord to leave behind on your next business trip.
The unit’s scanning performance ranged from decent to barely passable in our tests. Photos show decent color balance and tone but suffer from minor streaking. Text is legible down to 8 points but lacks crispness. Magazine pages generally come out well, although there are some moiré problems with background colors that make the pages hard to read.
The Pentax comes with Presto PageManager 6 for Windows, which is a decent scanning package. It is easy to set up and work with, but the interface for sorting and printing scans manages to be juvenile-looking and confusing. Thankfully, the DSmobile is TWAIN-compatible, so most other image programs, including Photoshop, can use the scanner without a hitch.
PageManager lets you save a scan to a PDF, which is useful if you want to share it with others. Unfortunately, we can’t recommend the program’s built-in OCR engine — it makes far too many errors to be of much use.
The DSmobile isn’t ever going to replace a high-quality flatbed scanner when image quality is paramount, especially since its hardware resolution is only 300 dpi. But if you’re out of the office, it’s an inexpensive way to move documents from hard copy to digital easily. Just keep in mind that it’s a sheet-feed scanner, so you’ll have to be willing to disassemble anything you want to send through it. -Mark McClusky
Best Feature: Mobile scanning for less than 100 bucks
Worst Feature: Image quality is poor
Pentax DSmobile USB Scanner
Weight: 12.6 ounces
Size: 11 x 1.9 x 1.6 inches
Specs: 300 dpi optical resolution; 36-bit color; 8-bit grayscale