We all know there’s no such thing as the paperless office, but there’s plenty of paper in the outside world as well. That’s why the crowded category of document scanners includes so many portable models like the $198.85 Raven Compact Document Scanner seen here. The Raven Compact is a well-equipped, accurate device for use at front desks and in small offices and workgroups, as well as on the road, but it lacks some of the features of our 2017 Editors’ Choice award winner, the Epson WorkForce ES -300W—including a battery for remote, unplugged operation. Between that and Raven sending us the USB-only model rather than the version with Wi-Fi, this scanner misses the brass ring, though it accquits itself well enough in our testing.
Multiple Sheets Are a Cinch
While Epson, Brother, Canon, and several other vendors offer multiple portable document scanners, Raven sells just this one, available with ($234.85) and without Wi-Fi. Our test unit’s USB-only interface means it lacks support for most mobile devices like smartphones and tablets, unlike its Wi-Fi competitors including not only the Epson ES-300W but the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1300 and S1300i and the Brother ADS-1250W and ADS- 1700W, to name a few. In fact, some portables like the Fujitsu S1300i support not only Wi-Fi but peer-to-peer wireless protocols such as Wi-Fi Direct, Bluetooth, and Mopria.
Before we examine the Raven in detail, it’s important to note there are two basic kinds of portable scanners: multi-sheet, like the Raven Compact and Epson ES-300W, and single-sheet, like the Brother DSmobile DS-940W and the Epson DS-80W. The main difference between them is that with single-sheet devices, you must load pages manually, one after the other, while multi-sheet scanners provide automatic document feeders (ADFs) for hands-off handling of multipage documents.
Single-sheet portable scanners like the Brother at left handle one page at a time, while multi-sheet models like the Raven Compact offer ADFs for holding multiple pages.
Most portable-scanner ADFs hold 20 pages, as do the ES-300W’s and the Raven’s. (The ScanSnap S1300i holds only 10.) With its ADF and paper trays closed, the Raven Compact measures 2.9 by 11.8 by 4.1 inches (HWD) and weighs 3.3 pounds; All the portables mentioned above are within an inch or so in all directions and only a few ounces lighter or heavier.
When closed and out of service, the Raven Compact takes up very little space.
The Epson WorkForce ES-300W, for example, weighs about half a pound less than the Raven Compact, despite being the only scanner mentioned so far with a built-in battery that allows operation without being plugged into USB or another power source.
The output slot dumps pages onto the desk or countertop.
As with most portables, the Raven’s footprint increases only a little with its trays open and ready to go to work. As you can see in the image above, there is no output tray to speak of; scanned originals slide out onto the desktop.
ID cards, business and credit cards, and similar items are fed through a dedicated slot in back.
You can scan ID cards, business cards, driver’s licenses, and credit cards via a specialized slot at the rear of the chassis. The scanner comes with software for processing data from not only business cards but various financial documents such as receipts, bank statements, and invoices. You can initiate scans from either the control panel on the right side of the device or the Raven Desktop software provided (more on it in the next section).
The control panel lets you select and execute workflow profiles.
You can’t set up and execute scan jobs from the control panel, but you can scroll through and select preset workflow profiles. The scanner interacts with the software, which allows you to create and maintain presets containing all aspects of your scan jobs, from resolution, format, and file type to the scan destination (a local drive, email, FTP, one or more cloud sites, document management software, and so on).
As I said, the Raven Compact’s ADF holds up to 20 pages; The scanner’s maximum resolution is 600dpi and its daily duty cycle an ambitious 3,000 pages. Keep in mind that to push the scanner that hard, you’ll have to load it 150 times per day or around 20 times an hour. In other words, you won’t be doing much else. If you really need to scan thousands of pages per day, you’re probably in the market for a desktop scanner instead of a portable.
By comparison, the Epson ES-300W’s daily duty cycle is a meager 500 scans. The Brother ADS-1250W and ADS-1700W are good for 1,000 scans per day, while the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1300 is rated for 3,500.
Raven Desktop Software and Accessories
Like most sheetfed document scanners, the Raven Compact has a “one touch” feature that, when you press the Scan button on the control panel, hands the job off to the Raven Desktop software. The software processes it according to the current workflow preset. You can scroll through and select presets from the 1-inch screen at the top of the control panel.
The Raven Desktop software runs on both Windows PCs and Macs.
In addition to standard document management features, Raven Desktop exports to numerous file types, including image and searchable PDF; Microsoft Word, OneNote, and Excel; Neat accounting software; and a slew of cloud sites including Raven Cloud, which gives you free unlimited document storage.
In addition to the USB and USB/Wi-Fi versions of the scanner, Raven offers a bundle that adds a black nylon carrying case, a rubber stamp, and a box of 60 cleaning wipes for about $245. I found the case itself on Amazon for just under $30.
For a few extra dollars, Raven offers a bundle that includes a carrying case, wipes, and a rubber stamp.
Testing the Raven Compact: Portable Performance
As for speed, Raven rates the Compact Document Scanner at 20 one-sided pages per minute (ppm) and 40 two-sided or duplex images per minute (ipm, where each image is a page side). Aside from the Fujitsu S1300i, rated at only 6ppm and 12ipm, all the other scanners discussed here are 5ppm to 10ppm faster. The Epson ES-300W and the two Brothers are rated at 25ppm and 50ipm, and the Fujitsu iX1300 at 30ppm and 60ipm.
I ran my tests over a USB connection to our Intel Core i5 PC running Windows 10 Pro and Raven Desktop. First, I clocked the Raven Compact as it scanned our one-sided 25-page and two-sided 25-page (50 sides) text document and converted and saved the scans as image PDFs. The Raven captured and saved the simplex scans at 23.1ppm and the duplex scans at 40ipm.
As expected, this trailed all but the S1300i (7.1ppm and 14.9ipm). The ES-300W managed 27.3ppm and 54.5ipm, while the ScanSnap iX1300 led the way at 33.3ppm and 63.2ipm. The Raven may not be close to the fastest, but it’s plenty quick enough for everyday applications.
As I’ve said in other scanner reviews, optical character recognition (OCR) accuracy has improved greatly over the last five or six years and has been consistently excellent for the last couple. The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i scanned our Arial font test page without errors down to 4 points and our Times New Roman page down to 5 points. The Raven Compact didn’t do quite as well, proving error-free at 6 points for both fonts, but you’ll be hard pressed to find real-world documents with text that small.
Frankly, it doesn’t get any better than this. Most people can’t even read 6-point type without assistance. Of the other models discussed here, the Epson managed only 8 points without mistakes for both fonts, but even that is smaller than you find on most documents. Besides, those tests were running several years ago, and there’s no question that the Epson Scan software shipping today is more accurate than it was in 2017.
To see how well the Raven Compact and Raven Desktop software gleaned and archived data from business cards and receipts, I scanned a few stacks of each. Performance was equal to what I’ve seen from other scanners; the cleaner the design and the better physical condition of the document, the more accurately the software was able to extract the proper data and populate the appropriate database fields. In other words, the fewer fancy design elements on business cards and the clearer the type of receipts and invoices, the better your scans will be.
Wish We Had Wi-Fi
There’s a lot to like about the Raven Compact Document Scanner, but the base model’s missing Wi-Fi (and, less important, the lack of a batttery) cause it to pale somewhat compared to its most rivals. The Raven Compact is a fine portable document scanner and a decent alternative to our current favorite, though we look forward to testing the wireless version.
Raven Compact Document Scanner
The Bottom Line
Raven’s Compact Document Scanner performs well and accurately, making it a good fit for front desks, small offices, and workgroups as well as for travel.
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