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Vendor Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: Flip Pal Mobile Scanner

Reported by Rachel Johnson

Years ago, I worked for an art magazine, and scanning fine art images was a big part of my job. Since I had access to a professional grade scanner at work, I never got around to purchasing a scanner for home use. Since nearly all of my photography is digital, I mostly got by without one, but there were always instances when I wished I could scan an old photo or an illustration. It just never seemed worth it to go buy a huge, desktop scanner/printer combo for just a few projects or photos. It was a constant conundrum — I wanted to scan things, but I didn’t want to own a bulky scanner that would just take up room on my desk.

The Flip Pal Mobile Scanner solved my conundrum! The Flip Pal is a mini, battery-powered scanner that you can take anywhere. It is approximately 10 inches wide, 6.5 inches tall, and about an inch thick. It weighs about 1.5 pounds. It comes pre-loaded with batteries and a 2GB SD memory card. All you have to do to start scanning is take it out of its packaging. You don’t need to hook it up to a computer or plug it in; just switch it on, and press the scanning button! Magic!
The Flip Pal also comes with a simple instruction booklet and a handy thumb drive “SD to USB converter” that you can use with the SD card to load the scanned photos onto you computer. The thumb drive also contains special Flip Pal photo software that runs on Windows computers and can help you edit photos and stitch together large photos from multiple scans. However, I use Mac computers, so I was not able to access the software. Instead I used iPhoto and Photoshop to easily edit all my scans.

I got married long, long ago in the age of analog photography, and for years I have been meaning to scan some of my wedding photos. A perfect project to test out my new Flip Pal!
The scanning surface is 4 x 6 inches and can scan at a 300 dpi or 600 dpi resolution. Three hundred dpi is a standard print resolution, and scans made at that size can be printed at their original size. Scans made at 600 dpi resolution can be successfully printed up to twice their original size. Many professional scanners work at much higher scanning resolutions, but for nearly all hobby and craft purposes, 600 dpi is plenty large. Plus, each scan is very fast! I scanned over 80 wedding photos and didn’t even use up half of the battery power!

Each scan is displayed on the scanner’s small screen after it is completed. The digital display helps you make sure you positioned the scanned item correctly and allows you to review all of the scans you have made during a session.

Another great feature of the Flip Pal is that you can remove the cover and “contact scan” larger pieces or things that will not fit under the cover. Once the cover has been easily pulled off, you can flip the Flip Pal over and scan… well, really anything!

The clear back allows you to position the scanning surface correctly. I scanned a few of my large wedding photos and also a few older photos that are affixed to a scrapbook this way.
It was incredibly easy to import the scans onto my computer. You simply put the SD card into the USB converter and plug that into your computer. Then, you can import photos just as you normally would off of a digital camera. If you have an SD slot on your computer, you can use that instead of the USB converter. I imported my scans into iPhoto and did a little bit of cropping and editing. The whole scanning process was completely user friendly and easy.

I am thrilled that I finally got some of my old photos scanned, including the two above of my grandparents. I love my new Flip Pal!
Pros:
  • Small size makes it completely portable and easy to store.
  • User friendly and extremely easy to use.
  • No set up – simply open it up and start scanning!
  • Patented flip-and-scan technology – literally flip it over and scan anything!

Cons:
  • The included Flip Pal software only works on Windows computers.
  • The scanning surface is small – 4 x 6 inches.
  • Maximum scanning resolution is 600 dpi – some project may call for a higher res.

Giveaway!
The fine folks at Flip Pal are giving away a Flip Pal Mobile Scanner to one of our lucky readers. Just leave a comment on any Vendor Spotlight: Flip Pal Mobile Scanner article (there will be 2) answering the following questions:


Have you ever used a portable scanner, like the Flip Pal? What projects would you complete if you had a Flip Pal?

One comment per person, per article, please. You have until Monday, December 20th at 6pm CST to enter.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

Pandigital One Touch Photo Scanner

Reported by Jessica Ripley


If you’re a scrapbooker like me, chances are you have more photos on hand than the average person. We travel everywhere with our camera, and ignore the odd looks from passersby when we start snapping pictures in the grocery store, at the gas pump, etc. We know these everyday moments must be documented! Of course, thanks to digital cameras, we can take hundreds of photos anywhere, easily save and organize them on our computer, and then print them out when we’re ready to scrapbook.

But what about all those traditional film photos?

  1. They need to be scanned into a computer for preservation since they will eventually fade.
  2. Since you should never scrap an original photo, scrapbooking those on film takes extra time to scan and print copies first. My time is precious!

While photos on film that I, myself, have taken only range back to high school or so, I have rescued countless numbers of them from family magnetic albums. Also, when I got married, I asked for a few photos of my new husband’s family past and present. I was promptly presented by my sweet mother-in-law with thousands (yes, thousands) of photos in a huge Tupperware container with a sense of “here, you’ll give them a good home.”

“Yikes,” I thought, “this will be a lot of scanning.”

So, that was 8 years ago and I have barely started. Scanning photos in a traditional bed scanner just takes so much time! Open lid, carefully place as many photos will fit (3 or 4 tops), close lid, scan (wait!), repeat.

And then, I happened to run across the Pandigital One Touch Photo Scanner, and hoped I had found a solution. Santa was promptly informed that it was on the ‘must’ list, and he came through. And honestly, so does this product.

My first impression when opening up the box was that it looked like I had everything I needed to get started:

In the box comes:

  • The scanner itself (which is about 5 3/4″ x 3″ and very light)
  • An AC power adapter
  • A 512 MB SD memory card
  • Calibration card
  • Cleaners for the roller and image sensor
  • USB cable
  • Plastic sheath
  • Instruction booklet

The scanner itself is pretty basic and easy to understand what’s what. Other than the slot for the photo to pass through, there is the power button and status light (which blinks in different ways to inform you if it’s ready, the memory card is full, cleaning mode, etc):

There is also an adjustable guide for photos smaller than 4″ x 6″. I never used the guide and had fine results. But it is there for the perfectionist in you.

On the backside is the USB cable input (if you wish to connect directly to a computer, but entirely not necessary), the power cord, and the memory card slot:

The memory card which comes with the unit is an SD 512 MB. It is also compatible with many others, including MS (Memory Stick). Each photo is scanned in at 300 PPI (pixels per inch) with resolution around 1200 x 1800 (and smaller) depending on the size of the photo. With these things in mind, the card that comes with the unit will hold hundreds of photos before it is full. I found I liked to stop every 100 or so though to load them into my computer for organizing so it didn’t get too overwhelming (to organize photos once they are in my computer, I highly recommend ACDSee, which you can read a review on here).

The memory card storage feature, combined with the portability of the unit, is what I find most exciting. Since it doesn’t need a computer to work (you scan directly onto the memory card), I can carry this little unit with me to my in-laws that live hundreds of miles away, and simply scan while I’m there! No more huge Tupperware containers taking up my space.

The process of actually scanning the photos in is very quick and easy. In the box comes a plastic sheath which the instructions state should be used in order to get the best results.

For my first photo, I took this step.

The plastic sheath will hold a 4″ x 6″ photo and smaller, though the scanner will also take a photo up to 4.1″ X 12″ long. The black area around the photo will not be shown once the photo is scanned in, making it possible to scan smaller images than 4″ x 6″ (such as the one above) without the need for additional cropping. There is a drawback to this, just in the fact that if you have a photo with dark edges, the scanner will think those areas are to be cut off. I didn’t run across this problem, but it’s clearly stated in the instructions as a warning.

Just for comparison sake, I also tried to scan the same photo without the plastic sleeve to see if it would make a difference:


It really didn’t. In the comparison below, the top photo was scanned with the plastic sheath, and the bottom without. I can’t tell a difference:

Since the scanning process is so quick (about 6-7 seconds per photo), not having to load each one into the sheath before sending it through makes it that much quicker. What I found the sheath best for was if a photo had curled edges, old sticky tape on it, or was too small to stay straight as it went through the roller. Placing photos like these in the sheath first solved any problems those issues might cause.

I also used it for photos that were a little thicker than usual, such as old Polaroids. It took the scanner a second to get a good grip on the thicker photo, but it did feed through fine. According to the guide, it will take photos up to 1.0mm thick.

(P.S. yes that is me on the right. I figure if I’m going to write an article with old photos I have no right to embarrass anyone but myself when showing them… but don’t ask about the socks with the dress because I just don’t know either).

You can see in the photo above the little bit of black mat on the lower left that wasn’t automatically cropped by the scanner. This is easily cropped off, and didn’t happen very often. I haven’t adjusted anything on the photos other than size to post them on the web, so what you see is a good representation of the quality too.

The unit also comes with pieces to clean both the roller and the image sensor. This was super easy and took only seconds.

I just can’t tell you how much I love this product. Anything that makes my life easier and my crafty time more fun is a winner to me! At a MSRP around $100.00, it may seem pricey, but to me it is such a time saver I consider it a great deal. And the fact that I am finally taking steps to really preserve precious memories makes it all the more sweet.


To sum up:

Pros:

  • It’s portable and doesn’t need a computer! Scan here, there, everywhere there are photos you wish to keep. As long as you can plug it in to power, you’re good to go.
  • It comes with everything you need to get started (and keep going). The memory card holds hundreds of photos before it is full (and then just empty into your computer and start again).
  • The items that come with it make it work that much better. From the plastic sheath for scanning curled or small photos, to the easy cleaning tools.
  • It makes me feel great knowing I am preserving memories that might have otherwise been damaged or faded away.

Cons:

  • You do need to plug it in to a power source making it slightly limited in where you can scan. If it only had battery power, it would be amazing. (Scan at the beach? Why not?)
  • It won’t scan very dark photos very well due to the automatic cropping of dark edges.
  • Once you scan all your film photos in, you may not find it very useful. Also if you don’t have many film photos it may not be a good investment for the price.
  • It does only take photos up to 4.1″ wide, for 5″ x 7″ and larger, you will still need to use a traditional bed scanner.

So, do you think this would be a handy thing to have? Why or why not? If you have one and would like to share some tips we’d love to hear from you!

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!

HP Photosmart C6380 All-in-One Printer

Reported by Sara McKenzie

I have owned and used the HP Photosmart C7180 printer for about 18 months. I LOVE this printer- and I’m going to tell you why!

Of course HP, like most technology manufacturers, never sells the same model for a prolonged period of time, so the printer details that I am going to share are for the Photosmart C6380, which is currently available, and has mostly the same features as the printer that I own and use. The C6380 sells on the HP website for $199.99.

Here are some specs for the C6380:
  • Dimensions: 17.79 x 15.97 x 8.17 in(w x d x h)
  • Weight: 16.4 lb
  • Print speed: 33 pages per minute black and up to 31 ppm color
  • Copy: Up to 50 copies, reduce/enlarge: 50 to 400%
  • Paper handling: 125-sheet input tray, 20-sheet photo tray,
    50-sheet output tray
  • Connectivity: 2 USB (front and back), 1 Ethernet, 1 PictBridge, 1 Wireless 802.11g/b
  • Print Technology: HP Thermal inkjet
  • Scan size: Maximum 8-1/2″ X 11-3/4″
  • Uses the HP 564 Black Ink Cartridge(~250 pages), HP 564 Photo Black Ink Cartridge (~ 130 photos) and the HP 564 Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow Ink Print Cartridges (~300 pages).

And here are some the GREAT features:

  • Print a 4″ X 6″ photo in as little as 18 seconds from the separate photo paper tray. No need to waste an entire sheet of photo paper for one small print.
  • Borderless printing capability, up to 8-1/2″ X 11″.
  • Flatbed scanner allows you to scan bulky embellishments on your cards and scrapbook pages.
  • You can connect wirelessly with your computer to print documents or pictures.
  • Your camera memory card can go directly into the printer, by-passing the computer altogether if you prefer.
  • Comes with the HP Photosmart Premier software that allows for quick import, simple editing (rotation in small increments, cropping, red-eye, brightness adjustment, and resizing).
  • Compatible with Windows XP, Windows Vista, Mac OSX v10.4 and 105. operating systems.

So, what do I love about this printer?

  • It is compact, and doesn’t take up a lot of desktop space.
  • It is truly plug and play. You can load up the printer driver on your computer and be printing photos within 20 minutes.
  • I love the wireless capability. I also have a laserjet, that is hard-wired to my computer. It was nice to be able to find a printer that I could place across the room, and not have to worry about a cord lying across the floor. There is a comparable model that is not wireless, if you prefer.
  • The print quality is superb. Photos come out great, with wonderful color. I also “worked” it last year when I had to print 100 photos for some photo Christmas cards that I was making. It took some time, but every page came out great and usable.
  • I actually bought this because of the flatbed scanner (in addition to the HP brand name). Most of the cards that you see on my blog were scanned with this equipment. The resolution is great, the color is true. And the software that came with it makes it incredibly easy to give a little adjustment to the scan before saving it- such as when I don’t line the card up straight on the bed, and it has to be rotated a few degrees.
  • The software itself really is intuitive. It only takes a few minutes to figure out where to click and what it can do for you.
  • Ink cartridges are really easy to replace and have been very reliable. (I have only used HP replacements, so I can only speak to those.)
  • The computer tells you when the ink cartridges are getting low. You can print to the very end of the supply, and then replace with a fresh cartridge.

Complaints?

Only one- and it has actually gone away. I work on the Windows XP platform, and early on, I had some problems when I tried to scan, getting a message that another computer was “using” the scanner. Huh?!? It was clearly some kind of glitch between the operating system and the HP software, and it was easily fixed (with HP online chat guidance) by clearing an HP process in the Windows “Task Manager” window.

This problem happened a couple of times, and then never happened again. Go figure….

Cons?

Well, as with all inkjet printers, they get you with the replacement cartridges. They are $9.99 for the C6380 HP 564 cartridges. You can get a larger print cartridge for $14.99, for twice as many pages. I could not tell you how many pages I got- but I have only replaced the set of cartridges once in the 18 months that I have had my printer. You can find the ink cartridges readily at major big box electronic and office supply stores, and of course from HP online. You can also get off-brand ink cartridges, but I have never been brave enough to try them!!

Other HP Photosmart Printer options:

There are few other printers in the Photosmart series, with slightly different features, and at different price points. They are:

  • C4580 $129.99. This is a slower printer, with a lower monthly capacity (1000 pages), and no separate photo tray. It uses a single Tri-Color ink cartridge in addition to Black. It has wireless capabilities.
  • C5580 $149.99 This is a faster printer with a higher monthly capacity (3000 pages) and a separate photo tray. It uses the Tri-Color ink cartridge and has wireless capability (bluetooth).
  • C6280 $159.99 Like the C5580, but it uses individual color ink cartridges, and does not have wireless capability.
  • C7280 $299.99 ($269.99 with rebate). This is like the C6380, reviewed here, but also has fax capabilites.

Of note: My printer, the C7180, also has fax capabilities, which I have used a couple of times, with no problems whatsoever. Again, the setup and use is very intuitive. The reason I did not review here the C7280 is because they have changed the paper feed for the fax feature, and I cannot speak to how well that works (although I assume it does, given HP’s reputation).

Conclusions:

This is a great All-in-One machine!! You can print, scan, and copy with ease. (And with the C7280, you also get fax capabilities). There is a version that will fit every pocktbook. Online support is terrific (well, as long as you are at least a little patient). It has a reasonable speed for an inkjet, and the print quality is GREAT.

I give it a big thumbs up! Let us know if you own one, and what you think.

Click on the link at the top of the page to visit Craft Critique for comments, giveaways and more!