This post is a review of the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. The Flip-Pal company graciously provided me with the StoryScans software to review (I already owned the scanner) and a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner to give away. I am also a Flip-Pal affiliate. However, the opinions in this post are my own. In other words, I would have written this review just like this anyway.
When was the last time you were visiting a relative and found a really special family photo and wished you could make a digital copy right on the spot? But instead you has to settle for snapping a sub-par picture with your phone.
Perhaps you are your family’s historian and you have come across a previously unseen photo of your great-great grandfather Joe in a library’s collection. You can’t take the photo to have it scanned so instead you have settle for a photo copy.
You have an old photo album from your Great Aunt Martha that you want to scan, but the pages are simply too fragile to put on a traditional scanner.
What if I told you that one small scanner, the size of a tablet, could help in all 3 of these scenarios? Please allow me to introduce you to the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner.
As a photo organizer one of my most important tools is my scanner. In fact I have 3 scanners. I have a flat-bed scanner for larger photos and documents and pictures and a high-speed feeder scanner for scanning lots of loose pictures in a small amount of time. But by far the most flexible (and fun) scanner that I use is my Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner. I have been using it for my photo organizing business and personal use for about 5 years and even take it with me when I travel to visit family and friends.
What is the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner?
The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner is a small, battery-powered, color flatbed scanner designed to scan photos and documents, and even keepsake items, large and small. Designed to scan without being connected to a computer, the Flip-Pal gives you the flexibility to scan wherever you go.
All scans are captured on an SD card (included) and then transferable to a computer using the enclosed SD card to USB adapter with no cords involved. Flip-Pal now also offers a Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner which allows you to replace your standard SD card with a 4GB Flip-Pal which can wirelessly transmit your digital files to your device or computer.
Also included on your SD card is all the software you will need to make your Flip-Pal functional. In addition to the general operational files, the Flip-Pal Toolbox software includes StoryScans (separate activation fee is required) and EasyStitch. More on these software packages in a minute. The Flip-Pal comes with basic editing functions including rotating, cropping and minor color adjustment. The Flip-Pal and its software are compatible with both PC and Mac.
Small Size – Big Potential
The Flip-Pal looks like a miniaturized version of a desktop flatbed scanner, but compared your family’s 4-in-1 printer/scanner/fax or even a high quality photo scanner, the Flip-Pal is tiny. Measuring 6.5″ x 10.25” x 1.25”, it is a small, extremely portable scanner that allows you to scan photographs and documents anywhere you would like. It’s small enough to easily tuck into your shoulder bag or briefcase or your luggage if you are traveling.
Using Your Flip-Pal
One of the things I like the most about the Flip-Pal is its flexibility and usefulness in a variety of situations.
Situation 1: Loose Photos
You have a handful of loose photos to scan. Simply lift up the lid, place the photos (one at a time) face down on the glass and push the scan button. In this situation the Flip-Pal works just like a traditional copier/scanner. (Note: I wouldn’t recommend using the Flip-Pal for large amounts of loose photos. There are better options for that, however, for just a few prints, it’s great.)
Situation 2: Fragile Album & Glued Photos
You have a fragile album or one in which the photos are literally glued to the page, it may be too difficult or dangerous to use a regular flat-bed scanner. In this case we can scan each photo individually, in their original place in the album.
Remove the cover which pops off easily. Then turn the Flip-Pal over so that the scanning bed is now face down on your photo. The back side of the scanner is clear glass so you can easily see where to position the scanner. Once you have it in the right position, push the scan button.
The Flip-Pal mobile scanner is versatile, portable and a useful tool for photo organizers &… Click To Tweet
Situation 3: Large Images
You have a 16”x16” album page that you want to scan, but it’s too large for the flatbed scanner. Here comes Flip-Pal and the EasyStitch software to the rescue. Working from left to right and top to bottom, you make a series of overlapping scans of the entire page. Now upload all of these scans to your computer and run the EasyStitch software. That’s when the magic happens. The software basically knits all of those images together into one picture. It is really amazing.
Here’s a video that shows you just how versatile the Flip-Pal can be.
Tell Your Story
The new software offered with the Flip-Pal is StoryScans which allows you to record someone’s voice while they talk about a certain picture. I love this feature so much that I have devoted an entire blog post to this software.
There are only a few things that I don’t particularly like about the Flip-Pal but both are easy to overcome.
The first is that it is battery-powered with no way to add a power cord. The manufacturers say that to add one would the scanner too bulky. OK, I can deal with battery powered but the Flip-Pal scanner can eat batteries like they are going out of style. I recommend investing in some good rechargeable batteries like the Eneloop batteries from Panasonic. They charge quick and last a lot longer than traditional batteries.
The other drawback to the Flip-Pal is that when you scan a photo, say off of a photo album page, it doesn’t automatically crop your image like some scanners do. You can do this yourself fairly easily in the Flip-Pal Toolbox using their editing function. You can also crop your scans in your favorite photo editing software. Software like BatchCrop and Adobe Photoshop make this an easy task, but it is still another step to take.
Summary: Pros & Cons of the Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner
- Works with both PC & Mac
- Easy to take with you
- Easy to use
- Use in a variety of situations
- Ability to scan at 300dpi or 600dpi
- StoryScans software
- EasyStitch software
- No power cord
- Uses a lot of batteries
- No auto-crop
The Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner is an invaluable tool in my photo organizing arsenal. It’s mobile, agile and powerful. From scanning loose photos to photos stuck in old albums to large documents and images, the Flip-Pal gives me a flexibility that my larger scanners just can’t give.
The Flip-Pal is ideal for anyone who is trying to scan and organize a lifetime’s worth of photos and albums as well as the family historian, genealogist and scrapbooker.
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