Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner Review

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The day a Facebook genealogy friend posted her review of the Flip-Pal mobile scanner, I mentally yelled, “It’s a genealogy dream machine. I need one!”

My Flip-Pal Review

Flip-Pal with lid open

Flip-Pal with lid open

Little did I know how much I would come to love my Flip-Pal. I was visiting my nearly 102-year-old mother in England for the last time, and knew my sister had countless old photos and certificates that needed copying and preserving for future generations. Flip-Pal was an answer to my prayers. This review explains why.

 

 

Flip-Pal’s Company Values  

I explored Flip-Pal’s website at flip-pal.com and was immediately attracted by the company values—especially the one labeled “Courage and Integrity.” After using their product extensively, I can say from personal experience that Flip-Pal is every bit as good as they claim.

Flip-Pal Facts

Although genealogy-related photographs and keepsakes are the main focus for my Flip-Pal, I must mention that scrapbookers, quilters, and preservationists also rave about it. The patented flip-and-scan technology allows scanning without disturbance or damage while the picture is still in an album or frame—an obvious plus for old, fragile items.

A really cool feature is the EasyStitch software, which automatically reassembles multiple scans into their larger original. For anything larger than 4×6 inches, I used EasyStitch (more about that in a minute). The Flip-Pal mobile scanner has high resolution and an inbuilt color LCD that shows normal size scans immediately. A computer is not required to scan (making the scanner truly mobile), but is used later when working with the scanned material.

Flip-Pal and the Eye-Fi Mobi 8GB Wi-Fi SDHC Card

The Flip-Pal does come with its own SD card, but because I was going to England and wouldn’t have access to a computer to check if my scans for stitching turned out okay, I replaced the SD card with an Eye-Fi Mobi 8GB Wi-Fi SDHC card.

EYE-FI MOBI WI-FI CARD

Eye-Fi Mobi Wi-Fi

Since I had already downloaded the Eye-Fi app to my Kindle Fire, this connected wirelessly with my Eye-Fi Mobi card and enabled me to zoom in and out of imported images and immediately check for possible errors. If I hadn’t left enough overlap margins for good stitching, I had time to rescan before leaving the country.

Here’s an example of a large, slightly fuzzy photograph from the 1850s, taken outside Brightlingsea Post Office, which my great great grandparents William and Rhoda Minter managed. I scanned the image in four sections, then used the stitch software, followed by the color correction feature to sharpen things up a bit. The picture is too old to improve further, but does give a good idea of what is possible.

Section 1 Brightlingsea Post Office  Section 2 Brightlingsea Post Office

Section 3 Brightlingsea Post Office Section 4 Brightlingsea Post Office

1850-Brightlingsea Post Office

1850-Brightlingsea Post Office

The Eye-Fi card also lets me share scanned photos wirelessly with family and friends across the world. The app can also be added to phones and other electronic readers.

I couldn’t help thinking all this would have seemed like impossible magic to my ancestors when having their original photograph taken. They could never have guessed that one day their images would be seen and treasured by descendants, and thousands of others.

Adding Toolbox with EasyStitch to Eye-Fi Mobi Wi-Fi Card

I was confused at first by the Toolbox program containing the EasyStitch software that is on the Flip-Pal SD card. I thought I had to download it to my PC, but after chatting with a helpful Flip-Pal specialist, I found it’s so much better than that. I’m sure all techies out there have no problem with this. I mention it because I know there are also thousands of non-techies who will fall in love with Flip-Pal and may need more information.

Here’s what Flip-Pal said, “The stitching software, EasyStitch, is on the Flip-Pal SD card in the Toolbox program. We want the user to use the software from the SD card without downloading to the PC or Mac so they can always be mobile; meaning anyone can stitch anywhere from any computer. Downloading software to the computer is not required. However, the Toolbox software (with EasyStitch) can be downloaded to the Mobi (Wi-Fi) card from our website at flip-pal.com (click on “Support” then “Downloads”). When the toolbox is in the SD card you are using to scan, you have everything you need.” 

A side note: I found that I had to first download to my PC, then double click on the file and choose to open it in my MOBI (Wi-Fi) card, which was inserted in my computer. After downloading the Toolbox software to my PC, it was important to double click on the file, as a single click gave me an error notice. 

With the software safely installed on the Eye-Fi card, I became a scanner-pro. It’s all amazingly simple, and results are way better than I expected.

Stitched photo from 4 scans below.

Stitched from scans of pieces below (3 pieces of original missing)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

 Section 2 Section 1

Section 3   Section 4

Photo after cleanup with Corel Paintshop

Photo after cleanup with Corel Paintshop. Two gaps filled in but need touch up. Can’t fill 3rd gap as piece missing.

 

Flip-Pal Sketch Kit

I used the Sketch Kit many times in England as it let me write relevant information on the see-through surface, which I then inserted between the photo and the scanner plate. I usually made two copies—one with the note and one without. It can be hard to recall details later when doing multiple scans.

Fred Tozer with Overland Car  Fred Tozer with Overland Car - no inscription

Flip-Pal Recognition and Awards

Flip-Pal was recently featured as Editor’s Choice in PC magazine at http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2420707,00.asp and has collected several awards as outlined below:

July 2010—won Overall Best Innovation Award at Craft & Hobby Association (CHA) Trade Show.

August 9, 2010—won Innovation Honor at the Coloradoan Show.

November 2009—received Consumer Product of the Year award from the Colorado Inventor Showcase in recognition of exceptional ingenuity, creative genius, and product development skills. The winners were chosen by a panel of over sixty celebrity judges representing the media, venture capital, high profile business, and academia. Entries were evaluated based on their innovation, novelty, and value to society.

In addition, since November 2012, Flip-Pal has supported the Superstorm Sandy photo reclaiming efforts by scanning and recovering over 20,000 pictures collected from devastated homes, local beaches, and wetlands. As members of the Memories Preservation  Coalition, they also helped communities in Colorado wash, dry, and scan photos rescued from severe flooding there in September 2013. The Flip Pal company, Couragent, Inc., is located in Ft. Collins, Colorado.

Where to Buy Flip-Pal

The Flip-Pal mobile scanner is $149.99 at flip-pal.com.

Included is a 4GB SD memory card, a USB to SD adapter (for those without an SD card reader on their computer), photo-stitching and color correction software, and batteries.

In addition to the free batteries, I decided to purchase rechargeable batteries because I knew I’d be scanning for hours and didn’t want to run out.

There are several bundle options for saving money—and some nice extras for fun Christmas gifts for the family genealogist who owns a Flip-Pal. I particularly like the padded carry case with pocket that comes in some cheerful colors ($29.99). And, of course, the Flip-Pal mobile scanner Sketch Kit ($13.99).

Flip-Pal Scanner Highly Recommended for Genealogy

Would I recommend the Flip-Pal scanner for genealogy? Yes, a thousand times, yes. It really is a dream machine that unites generations by restoring memories, and bringing family history to life. Thank you, Gordon Nuttall and the team at Couragent, Inc., for inventing Flip Pal®. It’s hard to stop scanning! 

Contest/Giveaway Coming Soon!

There’s a new contest/giveaway on the horizon, and guess what the exciting prize is this time? Yes, a brand new, unopened Flip-Pal! Watch for more details on Facebook or visit this website.

Flip-Pal Open Scanning

Flip-Pal flipped with lid off, scanning an album

 

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