App Shout-Out: Don’t Have a Scanner? Try TurboScan

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A few years ago my printer got busted. Not thinking, I chucked it out instantly. It was $50 and the tray to hold paper was broken off by a cat who lives in my apartment. She’s a tiny five-pound cat, and somehow she was able to wedge loose the dock for paper, so I figured the thing was a hunk of junk beyond salvation.

What I forgot — and remembered come tax time — is that it was a scanner, too, and, oops. I kind of needed a scanner. I managed to punt and use the copier at 1871 to mail stuff to my accountant, but I hated the fact that in an emergency I couldn’t scan something on my own terms. Buying a standalone printer seemed pointless, and I didn’t want to buy another scanner.

What I did do, though, is finally check out TurboScan. It’s a $1.99 app and guess what: Even on my crusty iPhone 4S, this is my answer. And it very well could be yours.

Granted, I am running the newest OS on my ancient phone, and I didn’t think TurboScan would fare all that well: When I first booted it up, it informed me my system memory was low. Knowing better, I decided to charge forward and use it anyway.

The app immediately crashed.

I opened it again, it crashed again after the same warning.

Fine. I rebooted. I opened it again. And then it worked like a dream.

Actually, TurboScan is pretty slick: It uses your smart phone’s camera to photograph the document you want to scan, and it’s pretty versatile. I scanned a handwritten note, a page in a book, and also a screenshot on my computer (notes on a whiteboard from a meeting I had last week), and they all came through crystal-quartz clear. It’s able to instinctively read and find a page’s borders and you are able to tweak them by hand — the image splits in half so you can see zoomed-in and zoomed-out where you’re dragging it to — and you can tweak it to be in color, black and white, or just the photograph you took.

From there, it can email a PDF of your page(s).

Like I said. Slick.

Check out TurboScan here if you're so inclined. And really, you should. 

David Wolinsky is a freelance writer and a lifelong Chicagoan. In addition to currently serving as IFC’s comedy, film, and TV blogger, he's also a comedy-writing instructor for Second City and an adjunct professor in DePaul’s College of Computing and Digital Media. He was the Chicago city editor for The Onion A.V. Club where he provided in-depth daily coverage of this city's bustling arts/entertainment scene for half a decade. His first career aspirations were to be a game-show host.

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