Three years ago, my wife and I moved into our new house ((A move that led to the creation of DocumentSnap, actually.)). In the last few weeks we finally started dealing with all the boxes in our garage, and one of them is a big, heavy box of my old college notebooks. It made me remember the ridiculous amount of paper you have to deal with in school, a phenomenon I am getting a new taste of with a son going into Grade 1.
I’ve always wanted to try out the Doxie, so the folks at Apparent sent me a review copy to check out the Doxie/Doxie U (more on the differences later).
What’s In The Box?
When you go to open the box, you right away see the familiar pink-hearted Doxie logo. Some people don’t like the heart motif, but I’m secure in my scanner masculinity so I’m cool with it.
The Doxie U comes with a manual, a USB cable, and a set of cleaning and calibration sheets. Note that there is no power brick.
As you can see on the back of the Doxie, there is just one port – the USB port. A single USB cable powers and operates the scanner, so you don’t need to mess around with looking for a power outlet. I’m starting to think this is a required feature for a portable scanner.
The Doxie is 11.5″ x 2.0″ x 1.6″ (291 mm x 51 mm x 40 mm) and weighs 10.9 oz (309g). It is very slightly larger than other similar scanners like the ScanSnap S1100 and NeatReceipts, but is lighter than the ScanSnap.
To give you some perspective, here is a Doxie compared to a school binder:
The Doxie’s listed speed is 12 seconds per page. By my math, that is 5 pages per minute. Certainly not as fast as desktop scanners, and not as fast as the ScanSnap, but faster than NeatReceipts.
The 12 seconds a page is their listed speed for 200dpi grayscale. When I scan at 200dpi Color, it takes 20 seconds, which is 3ppm.
My thinking is that if scanning speed is a primary concern, a Doxie is probably not the way you want to be going. That is not a criticism of the Doxie. After all, it is not trying to be an office scanner.
You may have noticed that there is no CD in the box. The Doxie folks have decided (wisely, in my opinion) to go with download-only for the drivers. I personally think that the optical drive is going the way of the floppy, so I have no problem with this move at all.
There are drivers for both Mac and Windows, so you download the one that you need and install.
The first time you plug in the Doxie, it asks you to calibrate the scanner using the included calibration sheet.
To be honest, I found this a little strange and not the greatest out-of-the-box experience, but I had to do it with the NeatDesk as well. I’m not sure why some scanners need this and some don’t, but I am sure some smart DocumentSnap reader will school me in the comments. Regardless, it was a quick process and I was soon on my way to scanning.
I will get into the software itself later, but since I am going through specs now, I’ll go through the scan quality. One great thing about the Doxie is that you have a lot of control over scan quality.
As you can see, you can set it anywhere from 75dpi all the way up to 600dpi. The default is 200.
Since quality is so subjective, I will scan both a color magazine page and a black and white typed page at both 200 and 300dpi, and you can judge for yourself.
All in all, quite good quality to my laser-surgery’ed eyes.
The software is very easy to use and intuitive. Although the design is quite… pink, I always appreciate software with personality and polish, and the Doxie software certainly has that ((If you really hate the pink, you can change it under Preferences to blue or a simplified UI)).
To scan, you start up the Doxie application.
At the top you choose whether you want to scan a document or a photo, and at the bottom you choose the quality and whether you want black & white, grayscale, or color. When you are ready to scan, you either hit the scan button on the application or on the scanner.
When the scan is complete, it prompts you either save your document or, if you have multiple pages, to add another page.
When you save, you can choose whether to save it to your local drive, to another application, or to the cloud (I’ll get to cloud scanning in a moment). Very handily, it saves your last-saved folders in the list so you can quickly scan to the same location.
As you can see, it comes pre-defined with Evernote, iPhoto, and Preview as local applications (on the Mac, anyways). If you want, under Preferences you can add your own application. I tried scanning to Yep and couldn’t get it to work, but in all honesty I didn’t spend much time troubleshooting. Maybe there is a way to do it that I missed.
Scanning to Evernote, however, worked perfectly. The PDF appeared in a new note in my Evernote client, and was then synced up to the cloud.
Scanning To The Cloud
I have to admit, when the Doxie first launched I shared Joe Kissell’s opinion in his Doxie review. The concept of scanning to the cloud didn’t make a huge amount of sense to me.
However, with Doxie U being targeted at teachers and students, I can see the benefit. I am sure lots of students use Evernote and Google Docs both to store their own documents and to collaborate with others. I can see scanning to cloud services being a great feature.
Doxie has its own cloud service “Doxie Cloud” that you can upload documents to, or you can add your CloudApp, Flickr, Google Docs, Picnik, Scribd, Tubmlr, or Twitter accounts. Some of these are clearly aimed at uploading photos, but let’s look at scanning to Google Docs.
To scan to a cloud service, you scan normally but instead of scanning to a local client, click on the Cloud icon in the top left, and choose your service (in our case Google Docs).
When it finishes uploading, you’ll get a direct URL to your uploaded document.
And here it is, in Google Docs:
What About OCR?
To be honest, I really like the Doxie, but I really dislike the fact that it doesn’t come with OCR software. As you will know if you have been reading this site for any length of time, I am a big believer in making your PDFs searchable if you are going paperless. I think this is especially useful if you are a student or a teacher and want to track down your material. Yes you can use Evernote Premium or Google Docs’ OCR capability, but I think the company should reconsider their stance on this one.
The good news is, the Doxie is much less expensive than most other equivalent scanners, so you can do what this guy did and pick up the Doxie and an inexpensive OCR package if that is a feature that is important to you.
What About TWAIN?
One decision that I do agree with Apparent about is TWAIN support. So, before someone asks, no the Doxie does not support TWAIN. Like the ScanSnap, they are focusing on user experience at the expense of TWAIN support, and I have no problem with that at all. It is an important thing to know if you need to use an application that requires a TWAIN scanner, however.
What Is The Difference Between Doxie and Doxie U?
Great question, I was wondering that too. Here is what Apparent has to say about it on the Doxie U page.
Doxie U. is a specially priced scanner just for teachers and students. It’s functionally equivalent to Doxie, the amazing scanner for documents in both the scanner and included software. The differences are price and accessories: the regular model comes with a carrying case, while the Doxie U. academic version does not. Academic credentials are required to purchase Doxie U. – teachers and students are eligible, worldwide.
So basically, the scanner is the same, the software is the same, but it is only available to academic customers and doesn’t come with the carrying case ((Too bad, the case is quite nice.)).
I really like the Doxie U scanner, and I wish I had something like it back when I was an eager young Accounting student and swimming in paper.
I wouldn’t recommend it as an office scanner (even a small office). In that case, you are going to want something with a document feeder and something much faster. However, a student or a teacher that wants something portable with a dead simple interface could get a lot of benefit out of it.
If you are an academic user, you can buy the Doxie U for $119 through the Doxie website. They’ll ask you for your institution and verify academic credentials.
If you’re not a student or teacher, never fear. You can still buy the regular Doxie. If you want to buy me a beverage, you can buy it through Amazon, or if you don’t (that’s cool too), you can buy it through the Doxie store.
Do you use a Doxie? How do you like it?