I have a strong aversion to paper. Don’t get me wrong… I love books and magazines, but it’s all the other stuff that piles up over time that drives me crazy. Some of it is useful — Lego instruction books and user manuals come to mind. But much of it is just an annoyance because it adds up slowly, sneaking into the house and turning into a pile in the kitchen and a pile in the office. Financial papers that must be kept for tax purposes. Immunization forms that the daycare requires at the oddest times. Brochures for services for which I’ve expressed an interest. Recipes found on the back of a box that I’m hoping to try out soon. Business cards that I need to keep but somehow always end up losing. Report cards, hand drawings, and worksheets sent home with my boys.
I’ve written previously of my attempts to reduce the clutter in my office. I subscribe to a number of print magazines that often have two or three articles that I wish to keep. I have a large collection of tool user manuals. And I’ve got a pile of paperwork that my children bring home and numerous sketches they proudly hold up for my consideration. I’ve been using a personal scanner for some time now to scan in what I wish to keep in PDF form, and I’ve definitely managed to get a handle on the paper buildup in my office. I’m still struggling with the rest of the house, especially one of the kitchen countertops that seems to be the black hole of junk mail, bills, catalogs, etc., but scanning for my office? Under control. Tool manuals scanned and recycled. Magazine stacks reduced to no more than 1 or 2 months backlog (previously 1 to 2 years) with must-keep articles scanned and converted to PDF. And kids’ sketches and the occasional memorable report card or note from teacher all scanned and saved (and backed up).
I’d say that I’m happy with the status quo, but that’s not completely true. There’s always room for improvement, they say… and I’ve thankfully discovered that to be 100% true as I’ve been using some of the new features that come with the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i. My first personal scanner was the ScanSnap S1300 (since donated away), capable of scanning at eight double-sided pages per minute. Fujitsu is retiring the S1300 and offering up the S1300i that brings some new features that I’m very much enjoying and a speed increase — it can now handle twelve double-sided pages per minute.
What I find so useful with the ScanSnap series of scanners is the variety of methods the scanners offer for saving your scans. The software is compatible with both Mac and Windows, and while you’ll find a few subtle differences in software features depending on your operating system, the major functionalities are available for both systems. Having options for how to scan your images and how or where to save them is a major time saver… let me explain.
With the original S1300, I preferred to save my scans to PDF. These scans would then be saved to a dedicated Dropbox folder so I could access them with multiple devices, including my preferred reading device, the iPad. The problems with accessing these articles on my iPad via Dropbox was that they would appear as vertically scrolling documents and I prefer reading them like a book, with a swipe of the finger to view the next page. To make this happen, I would import those articles I wanted to keep with GoodReader (easy to do) which would finally allow me to read them with a flick of the finger. Not the fastest process, but it’s how I got all the scanned PDFs I wish to keep as reference documents onto my iPad.
But the S1300i and the software update it brings has changed all that. As I said earlier, there are a lot of different methods for saving the scans you perform with the scanner. And one of those is Scan to Mobile. It requires a free app on my iPad that links to my MacBook Air when it’s connected to the 1300i. After scanning a document, one page or multiple pages — I’ll get to this in a moment — I get a list of 13 options (more on a Windows computer) that includes the Scan to Mobile option. I select that option, open the mobile scanning app on my iPad, and boom… there it is. The only other thing I have to do is tap the scanned image and a small menu appears asking how I wish to open it. GoodReader is one of those options, and with a tap of my finger the new PDF is added to my GoodReader app and available even when the iPad has no Internet connectivity. It’s a great time saver, especially for those scans that I really only care to have on my iPad and not saved into Dropbox. (I’m still scanning in activity book pages for my boys, too, and now I send them directly to a special folder on the iPad instead of Dropbox.)
But Scan to Dropbox is another of those 13 options I have available (and it’s new to the ScanSnap series). The first time you use it, the software will add a ScanSnap folder to your Dropbox account and all future scans will appear there. (You can browse and change the default folder that scans are saved to if you like.) I use this feature for those PDFs that I wish to store in Dropbox to make them available anywhere. I use this most often for financial scans related to my business that I store in a shared folder that my accountant can access, but I’m also finding myself using it more and more for storing scans of just about anything that I haven’t categorized yet. (And Dropbox just doubled my storage from 50GB to 100GB for the same yearly fee, so I’m a scanning machine now, scanning many more things now and dealing with organizing and filing them away later because they’re all safely stored in the easy-to-find ScanSnap folder.)
The software still allows you to scan to either a JPG or PDF format, color or black and white. You also have control over the resolution, with the default being 300DPI for color but you can bump that up to 600DPI for a high resolution scan that requires just a few more seconds of time and more hard drive space. You can set the default scan (when you press the blue button on the device) to either do single sided or duplex (two-sided) scans. The hopper can hold up to 10 pages at a time for the auto feeder, but I prefer to feed in documents by hand. When scanning in magazine articles, for example, I’ll set the software to single sided 300DPI because this will let me ignore an advertisement that breaks up the flow of an article. If I get lucky to have a 5 or 10 page article with no advertisements I’ll set it to double-sided scans and nail two scans in one shot.
I should add here that not only has the speed of the scans improved from the S1300 to the S1300i but also the accuracy. With the original S1300 I sometimes had to rescan a page because the auto feeder might grab it and scan in the page at an angle. The software had the ability to straighten a crooked scan but it didn’t always work perfectly. It may just be that I’m more careful (I doubt it) but I’ve found that I’m having to do fewer rescans with the S1300i as it grabs the single sheet feeds I give it and feeds them in straight and perfect. Maybe it’s an improvement in the auto feeder mechanism, but all I know is that my scans are straighter. And since the software still has the auto-skew feature, it fixes any minor problems with the alignment.
I’m not much of a highlighter, but for those of you who might prefer to have your PDFs searchable by keywords, you can use a highlighter to highlight words in a document before scanning. The S1300i and software will detect these highlighted words (it’s a setting you must turn on, by the way) and create searchable PDFs.
And what other options are available? Here you go:
- Scan to Folder — the standard option that allows you to specify a local folder to save the JPEG or PDF scan.
- Scan to Email — if you’ve got an email application configured, it’ll automatically open a new email with the scan as an attachment. I use Gmail, so this feature is unavailable to me.
- Scan to Print — if you’ve got a printer connected to your computer (or available via the network), you can immediately print the scanned image. It basically functions as a photocopier.
- Scan to Evernote — I’ve only used this a few times, but if you have Evernote installed on your computer, the scanned image can be immediately uploaded as a new note in your Evernote account.
- Scan to Google Docs — I don’t use Google Docs, but any scanned image can be immediately sent to your Google Docs account.
- Scan to SalesForce Chatter — I am not familiar with SalesForce Chatter, but apparently your scans can also be directed to your account.
- Scan to Word — I like this feature for grabbing text that I wish to immediately edit, but it doesn’t do a great job with images. The few test scans I did nailed the text, but the formatting of titles and placement of images was frequently garbled or ignored. Still, a nice feature if you’d like to have access to the text without retyping.
- Scan to Excel — Another feature that I don’t use, but if you’ve got printed spreadsheets that you want to take into Excel, here’s a solution.
- CardIris — I’ve only started using this service, but I can totally see the benefit now that I’ve got a few dozen scanned in. I wish I could access this with my iPad, but for now I’m just happy to have the information and know where it can be found.
- iPhoto — I tested this on a few printed photos at 600DPI and the scanned image saved in iPhoto was unbelievable. If you’re looking at scanning in some photos, this is definitely a superb scanning option if you use the 600DPI setting.
The ScanSnap S1300i is most definitely an improvement from the original S1300, and owners of the original S1300 will be happy to know they can get some of these new software features (such as the Scan to Mobile) by simply updating their software to the latest version. But it’s the improvements in the feed accuracy and the scanning speed that I’ve found to be the most beneficial to my scanning habits — the difference between 8 pages per minute and 12ppm may not sound like a lot, but once a month when I grab my Scan This Stuff box full of ripped out articles, receipts, manuals, and miscellany and scan in 100 to 200 pages, that extra speed and feed accuracy saves me both time and frustration (when I don’t have to rescan something that went in at an angle).
Like that old saying If all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail… with a scanner, I find myself looking at every piece of paper as a potentially scanned-in item. Because I store so much of it on Dropbox, 95% or more of it is available from any Internet-connected device… should my iPad ever get lost, stolen, or damaged, I won’t have to worry about losing all my documents. (That said, I have backed everything up to DVD as well, and I’ve scheduled a twice-a-year backup day to backup both my computer drives and my Dropbox folder for offsite storage.)
If you’re simply overwhelmed by paperwork and need to get it under control, you definitely need to give a personal scanner some consideration. I’ve examined a variety of different scanners during my research, testing out a number of them, and I have to say that given the large number of software options available with the ScanSnap S1300i, I’m certain that at least one of them will fit your scanning requirements.
Note: I’d like to thank Amelie and Jordyn for their assistance with my questions regarding the S1300i and for providing a test unit for this review.