Friday, October 22, 2010

Review: Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner - Miracles in Minutes - Part 1

I've eagerly been waiting for my Flip-Pal mobile scanner to arrive ever since I ordered it in August. This little gem arrived yesterday and I've been trying out some basic scanning as well as scanning an oversized document to see how the Autostitch software works.

I was scanning some 55 year old snapshots in less than five minutes after opening the box.

First of all, this scanner is fast. I'm used to my flatbed scanner warming up, grinding around taking its sweet time. This scanner was producing images for me in just a few seconds.

Apparently I was pissed off about something!
To the left is just a very ordinary photo of yours truly mugging for the camera. It's fairly typical of Brownie camera photographs processed at the drugstore in the mid-1950s. With some minor adjustments in the contrast, the scan actually looks sharper than the original.

The software that comes with the scanner allows you to make some adjustments with brightness and contrast. I found it to be quite satisfactory for these "quick and dirty" examples. If you want to do more photo restoration in Photoshop or other photo editing software, that would be fine. But for most scans, I think the Flip-Pal software is totally acceptable.

Below is a Before and After example of the type of adjustments you can make on your scanned images. On the left is my original scan and on the right is after I experimented with the brightness and contrast. The original image is one of those small Photo Booth pictures, circa 1940.

The next project was to see just how this works on oversize images. After all, isn't that the reason that a lot of we genealogists are interested in this product?

I went straight for my grandfather's childhood scrapbook of magazine photos of horses, cows and pigs. It's about 12" x 14" - maybe even larger. But it's too big to get a full page on my flatbed scanner. It took me a couple tries to get the auto-stitching software to work, but that was my own fault since I seldom read an instruction manual unless absolutely necessary. Since the software was not recognizing any stitchable regions, I realized that my scans had to overlap with one another. I made 11 scans of the page and here are four of them, just to demonstrate what the individual scanned images look like. Image size is reduced for the blog post.

Funny caption, anyone?

The Flip-Pal software is loaded on the 2GB SD memory card that comes installed on the scanner.

I clicked on the menu item "Stitch Scans", selected the scanned images to sew together and in only a few seconds, I had the following image on my computer screen:

I've left this image at its original size so you can click on it to see the full-size Hi-Res scan. I'll challenge anyone to find each individual scanned image. It absolutely matches perfectly. I even avoided cropping this image so you could seen the overage on the sides where I did the scanning. Well, what can I say? This is one of the two main reasons that I wanted to get this scanner.

Part 2 of this review will focus more on the technical aspects of the product and reason number 2 for my purchase - portability.

The Flip-Pal website

Part 2 of this review

Disclaimer: I purchased this product directly from the Flip-Pal web site. No compensation of any kind was received for this review.


  1. Well they SHOULD be compensating you - or at least giving you a percentage of increased sales. Of course now I really, REALLY want one of these!! Guess I'll see if Santa will bring me one - of course Santa has these silly rules about being good, so probably not in my case ;-)

  2. I saw a few comments at fb, but wanted to respond here. I'm with Diana, I really, really want one. Very informative post Susan. Thank you. Now to read your continuation.

  3. Just ordered one as my birthday present. Can't wait to use it!

  4. I purchased one at the Family Search Genealogy Conference in Pleasanton, CA in October. It came a couple of weeks later and it is a perfect as it promised to be at the demostrations. I can't believe how fast, lightweight and accurate it is. It also works well in a library when you want to copy information out of a book. No need to go to copier, just use scanner and you are good to go. I used it at a research trip to Sutro and it worked like a champ. I even brought spare batteries with me but haven't needed them so far.

  5. Thank you for the information. I want to order one, but was debating if I needed the extra software for photos (the one they offer for fifty dollars more and has software for photos, text, scrapbooks and family history). Still undecided, but it doesn't sound like it is really necessary. Oh, I irritate myself! I can be so indecisive! Need to watch to pocketbook, you know :)