Over the last five or six months, I’ve managed to turn a somewhat on-again/off-again behavior into a solid habit that has paid dividends when it comes to my work. That habit is scanning in receipts, articles ripped from magazines, financial statements, user guides, and much more. I scan whatever I feel must be kept into either PDF or JPG formats and then toss or shred the originals. It’s been a bit tough going to develop this habit — at first all I could manage was a weekly scan day (usually Friday), but it has since become a daily ritual, with me scanning mail items right after opening them or immediately scanning an article after ripping it from a magazine. I’ve learned if I address something right away, it tends to reduce my clutter. I figure I spend about 10 to 15 minutes each day scanning and then sorting the day’s paperwork into relevant folders (I use Dropbox), and renaming files to make them more useful.
My work scanner is the Fujitsu ScanSnap 1300 — I like the 1300, but it has one major drawback that has really hit home for me since I developed this Scan Everything! habit. It’s not truly portable. Yes, I can carry it with me — unplug the power cord, unplug the USB cable, throw it all in a bag, and I’m off. But the 1300 is a bit bulky (not even approaching the 1500′s bulkiness, but still… it’s like a small shoebox and doesn’t fit easily into a laptop bag). So the 1300 remains on my work desk, tethered to my computer with the USB cable. Anything I want to scan with it must be transported to my second floor home office first. A year ago this wouldn’t have been a big deal, but now I tend to look at everything paper as something just waiting to be converted to a digital file for access at a later time.
Since getting my company’s paperwork under control, I’ve decided to try to tackle the personal stuff — receipts, insurance and banking stuff, investments, kids’ immunization forms, and so much more. My wife and I keep all this stuff in a big pile next to the fridge (on the first floor). It’s an eyesore and we hate it. What I’ve been wanting to do for some time is implement a policy for our mail and other paperwork that forces us to address it right away. It gets thrown away, scanned or paid (if it’s a bill). Neither of us has a problem tossing junk mail or stuff we can immediately identify as trash, but it’s the non-bill, save-it-for-some-reason stuff that tends to snowball. Wouldn’t it be nice if my wife and I could find a way to immediately scan something and send it to Dropbox later? Something that could maybe sit on the counter without being tethered to a computer? Even better, something that didn’t need a power cord and was easy to hide or put out of the way when not in use? Wouldn’t that be a great little device?
Yes, it would. And, fortunately, it actually exists. It’s called the Doxie Go, and it satisfies all three of my downstairs/portable, personal scanning requirements:
1. It’s a great scanner that can send scanned files to Dropbox, Evernote, and even Google Docs, Flickr, and Twitter.
2. It doesn’t require a PC to scan. It has its own built-in memory that can hold up to 600 scanned pages PLUS it has an SD card slot if you prefer to save to a portable memory card.
3. It doesn’t need a power cord. It’s got a rechargeable battery so all you have to carry around is the 10.5″ x 1.7″ x 2.2″ device that weights 14oz. (It can scan about 100 pages per charge and takes about 2 hours to recharge.)
It can handle 8.5″ x 12″ paper or smaller (A4 and US Letter Size are the maximum sizes listed in the specs) so you won’t be scanning in any oversized magazine pages or 11×14 photos. It takes about 8 seconds to scan a 300dpi full color page — and scanning at 600dpi increases the time, but I rarely scan paperwork at 600dpi so most black-and-white paperwork goes through at 300dpi at high speed. (You toggle the power button on the device to move between 300dpi and 600dpi — it changes color to indicate green for 300 and orange for 600.) Full tech specs can be found on the product’s website.
The Doxie Go software is available for Windows and Mac and it’s extremely easy to use. After I scanned in a photo, I connected the Doxie to my Mac and it automatically detected the device. I then clicked the Import button and the photo was moved over. The Settings button only has 3 options which keeps it easy to use — you can choose to have the scanned image deleted off the Doxie Go after the image has been imported, you can choose to have the Import task ignore duplicates, and/or you can choose to automatically eject the device so you can unplug it immediately from the USB port. All three options are enabled by default and I really haven’t found any reason (yet) to change them.
You can also double-tap an image to open up an editing box that allows you to perform edits such as crops, rotation and color tweaks as well as renaming the file. After making edits, I can click the Save button (to save to Dropbox or other location) or I can click the Cloud button which will allow me to save it off to any cloud-based service that I’ve enabled on my computer. The Send button allows me to send scans to Evernote, as well. I use Evernote and Dropbox almost exclusively, so having the ability to batch save files to Dropbox or send them to Evernote is a big time saver for me.
There’s a Staple button that allows you to combine any selected images into a single file (definitely useful for stacking PDFs). This feature is also reversible, thankfully, as I made the mistake of stapling a few scans together that shouldn’t have been grouped that way. And the Save button allows you to choose from PDF, PNG, and JPG formats. You can also specify the location to save the files.
All in all, I’m loving this little device. So far, I’ve taken a stack of papers about 18 inches tall (insurance stuff, bank statements, phone bills, etc.) and whittled it down to almost half with the Doxie Go. Once I get my wife on board (that’s the trick, I think), we can start scanning papers and reclaim the countertop that’s become the Kelly Family Filing Cabinet Minus the Cabinet.
The Doxie Go is super-simple to use, and just being able to pick it up quickly, take it over to the dining table and scan in a handful of documents when I have a few free moments is incredible. Yes, there will be a little bit of hands-on required to rename the files or at least file them properly, but I really believe the time I save by keeping all this paperwork organized and stored digitally will be a fraction of the time I used to spend searching for something important amidst all the noise. And because I send just about everything I scan to Dropbox, I’ll be able to call it all up and view it instantly on my iPad whenever I need to do so.
One final thing — my 4 year old son, Decker, seems to bring home worksheets every day from school. I love watching him learn to write, and seeing his coloring skills develop makes me smile wide. I’m a dad who tends to collect these things in a big pile, thinking I’ll one day take hours and hours and goes through every one of them, reminiscing about when my kids were young. Rather than keep every scrap piece of paper he brings in, I began scanning these in quite a few months back and keeping them in their own digital folder. The Doxie Go will make this so much easier since I can immediately scan in his latest masterpiece or writing examples and know they’ll be around in the future should his future spouse ever like to see this kind of stuff.
If you’ve never used a scanner before to try to tackle a paper monster, I think you’re in for a real treat. The Doxie Go is a nice solution to a major problem for many folks. It’s small, inexpensive, and easy enough for my 4-year-old to use to scan his own worksheets. (There’s even a place in my laptop bag for it to fit should I ever need to take it with me.)
In today’s world, we are inundated with paper noise — bills, bank credit card statements, insurance notices, and so much other stuff that just overwhelms us and begins to grow in its own pile. I’ve always been envious of those folks who have been so organized and disciplined to keep the paper monster under control, but only now, in 2011, have I been able to somewhat get it under control as well. Now … time to go tackle the last half of that kitchen pile.
I’d like to thank Lexi and Paul with Apparent for providing the test unit and answering some technical questions I had about the Doxie Go.