As society moved to digital everything, we needed to find a way to bring our physical paperwork, photos, and other printed material into the digital age. The HP PS100 Mobile Document Scanner is a portable solution for taking photos, paperwork, receipts, and more and creating digital files to store safely elsewhere, freeing up precious filing cabinets or storage space. In this review, we’ll take a hands-on look at the device and see how well it performs at the task.
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HP PS100 Mobile Scanner Overview
With a form-factor that looks a lot like a wand, the HP PS100 touts itself as a scanner you can take with you wherever you go and need to scan stuff. The PS100 is a good-looking portable document scanner with a USB connection and quick scanning. While the device requires software in order to be used and only scans documents on one side, it does so reliably and is a good budget-friendly mobile document scanning solution.
- It does not require an external power supply (USB-powered)
- Well-designed and compact footprint
- Sturdy yet lightweight and can be tossed in a bag
- Setup and driver installation are quick
- Works on both macOS and Windows
- Quick to scan full sheets of paper
- The HP WorkScan software is required to use the device.
- Lining up a document correctly so it scans straight is easier said than done.
- The device comes with a calibration sheet but no instructions on using it.
- It appears to be a re-badging of an Avision scanner using brand licensing, not a first-party HP product.
Unboxing and Setup
Opening up the box, you’re immediately greeted by a Getting Started Guide in five languages (English, French, Spanish, German, and Italian), required regulatory information, a “Join our Community!” promotional card featuring a 10% discount on your next purchase, and a calibration sheet. I’ve never received a calibration sheet for any document scanner I’ve ever owned, so that was unexpected (more on that later).
One thing that you’ll notice is absent is a power brick. The PS100 does not need its power supply and runs entirely off the 5V output from your computer’s USB port. I could run the device on my laptop while on battery power. The USB cable is USB-A to USB-C.
To use the scanner, however, you must install the HP WorkScan Software, as we had with the HP KE100 Shipping Label Printer we reviewed. The software installs quickly but requires a background process to be running. On macOS, the OS called this out and let me know a new background item from “C&A Marketing” was being added. Unsure what I just witnessed, I researched and discovered something somewhat surprising: The HP PS100 isn’t made by HP at all.
The device is being sold under license by HP from C&A Global. Taking it further, though, C&A Global doesn’t make the device, either. The PS100 essentially appears to be a re-badging of the Avision MetaMobile 10. This was further confirmed when I dug into the software installed on my computer, having Avision identification, not C&A Global, and not HP.
Turning my attention back to the scanner itself, I noticed the page size markings on the intake side of the scanner are all in international sizes. I would have expected to see “Letter” for a device sold in the U.S. market. I returned to the Getting Started guide to see if there was any indication that maybe I got a version meant for a different market by mistake. I couldn’t find any such clues.
Poking around the Getting Started guide, I finally found a reference to the calibration sheet. However, I should only use it if scans start coming out blurry. How I should use it is still unclear. Additionally, the guide had a list of “Pro Tips” that felt like a grab-bag of random suggestions and not very pro at all. The last one on the list suggested I clean the scanner every 200 scans, again, with no mention of how to do so. Also, they don’t recommend scanning newspapers or magazines. Odd.
With some poking around the HP WorkSolutions site, I found a page with the entire user manual for the PS100. I’ve linked it here in case you’re like me and spend too much time trying to find it. These mystery tips and included materials are covered in appropriate detail in the full PDF, but I feel they should have been covered in the quick start guide, too.
Tests and Benchmarks
Firing up the scanner for the first time, I immediately remarked to myself how quiet the device was. A foot away, I measured an average of 46.9 dB between a quiet library and moderate rainfall.
With the open software, you can start a scan from the physical scanner by pressing the SCAN button on the top surface. If you do not have the software open at the time, it’ll launch the software first (a product of that background process I mentioned earlier) before trying to scan the document. If you’re so inclined, you can turn on auto-scan, and the device will scan documents as quickly as you load them.
I tested the default scan quality (200 DPI), 300 DPI, and the maximum 1200 DPI. Looking at the resulting PDFs at immense zoom, I’m unsure I can see a difference. Generally, the scan speed slows when the scan quality climbs and this device does not adjust accordingly. I suspect my alleged 300 DPI and 1200 DPI scans are still 200 DPI scans. I’ve uploaded images of all three as a slideshow above without identification.
Very few of the several dozen test scans I ran came out straight. The document scanner is very slim, so there isn’t much in the way of a guide to help line the sheet up straight before inserting. At just 1/2″ long, you’ll be taking your time lining up the paper and eyeballing it if you ever hope to get it remotely straight. The WorkScan software does not straighten the document for you.
It’s outright impossible to use the scanner without the WorkScan software. Unlike most document scanners, scanning a document using a third-party tool like PDF Pen or even your operating system’s built-in software will fail; the software cannot connect to the scanner. The entire software experience, while welcomely absent of bloat, also feels unfinished, especially since settings changes don’t appear to have an effect.
Document Scanning Tests
(scanning time only)
The HP PS100 Mobile Document Scanner functions like I’d expect: it’s quick to process documents, and the quality of the outputted files is pretty good. The software feels lacking and unfinished, and running silent software in the background on my computer is bothersome, especially since the device isn’t made by HP or the company selling the product under the HP brand. That wouldn’t be necessary if the scanner were a first-party HP product. If you’re looking for a low-cost document scanner and can get past the so-so software, the HP PS100 is a decent option.
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