When Xerox first invented the photocopier in 1959, it dramatically changed the way some businesses worked. No longer was there a need to manually retype documents or to copy them out by hand. The invention kicked off a new type of technology which ended up with the sophisticated all-in-one printer and scanners we see in offices today.
However, if you’re working with documents somewhere without a photocopier, or if you want to store something electronically, then copying a document isn’t possible or desirable. Photocopies are also expensive, and if you need to copy many documents to distribute to many people, copies aren’t an ideal solution.
In these situations, a smartphone can be a lifesaver. I’ve often photographed an important document or a passage from a book so that I could refer to it later. But smartphones can be hit and miss as they don’t always produce sharp results, especially when the lighting levels aren’t bright enough. In these situations, you need something more capable of getting high-quality copies.
The CZUR Fancy Pro Scanner is an affordable example of a new breed of portable scanners that can work with a Windows or macOS laptop and are light enough to carry to a library, document office or public archive. This new scanner is being marketed via Indiegogo. I’ve managed to get my hands on one to see if this innovative scanner at a relatively affordable price is worth the money.
The CZUR Fancy Pro Scanner is a book scanner and an HD webcam in a single handy package. It consists of a central column and an articulated folding arm that gives the whole device the look of a mini tower crane. It has a small footprint and is sufficiently compact to set up on a desk in a library or at a research facility.
The Fancy Pro scanner sensor sits at the arm’s end under a cluster of controls. A sliding switch at the cluster’s center for slecting single or continuous autofocus. There are other buttons for manually adjusting the exposure, flipping the image through 180 degrees, framing and a button for turning the scanner’s built-in LED on and off. The LED can work well, but like all direct light sources, it can create reflections that will spoil a scan. Sometimes an additional light source could be helpful, depending on the ambient light in the room where the scanner is being used.
The clever articulating arm of the scanner means it can be pointed ahead for use as a webcam or even positioned at an angle to get a good view. The scanner can also be pointed directly downwards for scanning books and documents. It can even stream graphics or notes that a teacher may be working on so it can be shown to a whole class on a large display screen. It’s ingenious and replaces those old overhead projectors many of us remember from school.
The Fancy Pro Scanner software is available for Windows and macOS. It includes special curve-flattening technology that can remove the natural curl that occurs when trying to scan a book. The software is clever enough to detect when a page is being turned and automatically takes a new scan every time it is turned, making it possible to scan an entire book at 1.5 seconds per page. If you scan a spread of two pages at a time, it’s even quicker. The scanner can even be triggered using a foot pedal.
In a few minutes, it’s possible to scan an entire book, which is ideal when working in reference libraries where it’s not always possible to borrow a book. The book should be out of copyright for you to be able to copy it legally, plus you’ll need to check the library’s policy on scanning documents, etc. Once the book is scanned, there’s even an OCR function that can turn the scans into fully editable text as a Microsoft Word document. This feature would be ideal for turning out-of-print books into Kindle versions or PDFs.
The CMOS sensor in the CZUR Fancy Pro Scanner has a resolution of 12 Mega Pixels and produces files at 330 DPI by default. The scanner is height adjustable and operates in five modes for scanning books, working as a webcam or a document camera. The software has editing functions that can automatically adjust the image quality of a scan for exposure and color to get the ideal result.
The CZUR software can create scans in JPG, PDF and TIFF formats which can be specified as unprocessed, color, mono and a few other settings. The color depth of the scans is 24-bit and the CMOS sensor is relatively low noise. The maximum resolution of the Fancy Pro’s scans is 4,000 x 3,000 pixels and the video streaming format is MJPG. Scans can be exported as JPG, PDF, Word, Excel or TIFF files.
Verdict: The CZUR Fancy Pro Scanner is a clever piece of equipment at an affordable price. It’s ideal for researchers, genealogists, teachers and anyone who needs to scan or live stream. The software is surprisingly good and easy to use. The image quality is as good as any smartphone for document use and the fact it is height adjustable and stable means no more blurry images, even in low light levels. If you need to scan documents or want to do a lot of OCR on books or magazine articles, the CZUR Fancy Pro is a no-brainer. If I have a criticism, I’d like to see a detachable USB cable and a carry case for keeping the scanner safe when taking it to libraries or archives. Recommended.
Pricing & Availability: The CZUR Fancy Pro Scanner is available through Indiegogo. Like all crowdfunding projects, do your due diligence. I’ve seen and used one of these scanners and it seems good. The scanner costs $149 and can be pre-ordered here.
More info: www.indiegogo.com
- Image formats: JPG, PDF, TIFF.
- Sensor: CMOS.
- Bit depth: 24 bits.
- Pixels: 12M.
- Video format: MJPG.
- Resolution: 4,000 x 3,000
- LED lights: Yes.
- PDI (default): 320
- Pre-scan: 0s.
- Focus mode: fixed focus.
- Export Format: JPG, PDF, Word, Excel, TIFF.
- Preview: PC-visual presenter:1,080p @ 60fps.
- PC-scanning: 4k @ 15fps.
- Interface: USB2.0 high speed.
- Scanning access: Device control, software triggering, hand button, foot pedal.
- System support: Windows XP, 7/8/10, 32/64-bits, macOS 10.11 and higher.
- Dimensions (LxHxW): 265 x 303 x 66mm.
- Weight: 0.8kg.