TurboScan (iPhone) and Music


Every now and then I visit the bestseller list of iOS apps to make sure that I’m not missing anything new and exciting.  I noticed that a scanning app, TurboScan, for the iPhone was on the list, so I decided to download it.  I have another scanning app which I haven’t used very often called Scanner Pro.  Quite honestly, I didn’t have much luck with Scanner Pro.  The makers of forScore (iPad PDF Music Reader) used to offer an iPhone version of their image capture software called “Darkroom” (this app is no longer available).

So I thought I would give TurboScan a try at the low price of $1.99 (Scanner Pro is $6.99).  There are three modes to “scan” pictures, which include a single camera shot, a three-picture camera shot, and from your camera roll.  The three-picture shot is supposed to be the most accurate, so that is what I decided to try.

I had one score on hand, which I am entering by hand into Notion for iPad as I have down time (we are on Spring Break, so I have a little of that this week).  I used that file as a sample, and without a doubt, scanning with an iPhone is much faster than scanning with flatbed (or all-in-one) scanner.  You take a picture of the page on a dark background, repeat three times, and the app determines the edges of the page and then allows you to do further editing or to move on to the next page.

When you scanning is done, you can start another scan, see your existing scans, or send your scans via e-mail or iTunes (cable connection).  I simply e-mailed the score to my Gmail account.  The resulting scan was 2.4 MB.  My original 300 dpi scan on an all-in-one scanner was 7.1 MB.  When I used PDF Shrink to reduce the size of PDFs for use on the iPad, the TurboScan file was 1.6 MB, and the All-in-One was 1.5 MB.

Here are two images of the different scans.  The TurboScan image is subject to the waves of the paper, as the paper simply sits open on a surface.  The All-in-One scanner has a lid, which forces the paper to lie flat on the glass of the scanner, eliminating the waves (Photo #1 is All-in-One, Photo #2 is TurboScan).


All in all, the TurboScan image is very acceptable.  The image could be improved, perhaps, buy putting a clear piece of plexiglass over the music (although a flash could be problematic).  Perhaps I could a make a template the same shape as a choral octavo (a dark wood border with a hole in the middle for music)  that would weigh down the paper equally on all four sides and eliminate the “wave.”  And I still might try to build an iPhone scanning stand.

The moral of the story: if you need to get music quickly from paper to your iPad, TurboScan might do the trick.  You can e-mail yourself the finished PDF, and open that e-mail on your iPad and send the PDF to your PDF music reader (forScore, unrealBook, DeepDishDesigns GigBook).  All of this is without the need of a traditional scanner.  Granted, I like to post-process with PDF Shrink ($35), but you may not want/need that ability.  $1.99 is a small price to pay for this level of functionality with a scanning app, and I recommend it.

A final note: I have an iPhone 4, not the iPhone 4S, and TurboScan works great for me.