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iConvert turns your iPad into a sheet-fed scanner

Actually, an app does that. The iConvert itself does the scanning, turning documents and photos into JPEGs and storing them right on your tablet.

If tablets are really going to kick laptops to the curb, they'll need some of the same important accessories road warriors rely on. Like, say, mobile scanners.

Enter the Brookstone iConvert Scanner, which combines a sheet-fed document/photo reader with an iPad dock. It's due to ship February 1 for a list price of $149.99.

As shown in the above demo video, you just plunk your iPad (1 or 2) into the iConvert, run the accompanying app, then start feeding your documents, photos, business cards, kids' scribbles, and what have you.

The iConvert Scanner is compatible with the iPad 1 and 2.
The iConvert Scanner is compatible with the iPad 1 and 2. Brookstone

The hardware supports 300-dpi color scanning; the app saves your scans in JPEG format to your pictures folder, where you can perform all the usual tricks: e-mail, print, copy, and so on. Alas, there doesn't appear to be a scan-to-PDF option, which would be nice.

A couple things aren't immediately clear. First, what powers the scanner? There's no cord shown in the video, so I'm guessing it runs off a rechargeable battery. (I'm checking with Brookstone to see if I can get an answer on that.) And if it is a battery, how many scans can it manage between charges?

Brookstone doesn't list the weight or dimensions of the scanner, either, though based on the photos, it looks compact enough to ride in a briefcase. And if it's anything like similar portable scanners, it's probably fairly light.

You might be asking yourself if you really need something like this, given that the iPad 2 has a built-in camera and there are plenty of apps that can leverage it for "scanning" purposes.

Alas, the rear camera takes submegapixel photos--not nearly high-resolution enough for document duty. Meanwhile, the lighting is never adequate, and it's hard to hold an iPad steady enough for sharp photography. I'd say if you routinely need to capture documents, photos, and the like while on the go, the iConvert might be just the ticket.

What are your thoughts? Is this the tool you need to finally leave your laptop at home? Or are scanners an outdated and unnecessary accessory?