ScanSnap S300I like the idea of getting rid of most of the paper that endlessly sits in my filing cabinet. So I have been trying to scan in most documents I receive for a while now and then shredding them if they are not required to be kept for some reason.

Obviously there are some documents that you have to keep, at least for a period of time, so I do not intend to completely remove the need for a filing system. My aim is to reduce the amount of paper that needs to be stored and also to keep any documents available in an electronic version for me to refer to at a later date.

To aid in this endeavour I recently purchased the Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 scanner. My reasoning for this choice was a combination of price and functionality and I couldn’t be happier with it.

Reason for purchase

Up until recently I have been using the scanner on my HP PhotoSmart 3210 All-In-One printer to scan in letters or documents and had to manually insert each page and then turn it over to get the other side. As I have slowly increased the amount of documents that gets scanned this process was slowly starting to get me down, and giving me an arm ache to boot.

Being a sheet fed scanner does have a few downsides. For example you cannot scan a page from a book without cutting it out first. This may be fine for magazines from which to want to archive articles you find useful but doesn’t work so well on bound books that you will want to keep afterwards. The only option then is to use a flatbed scanner.

Anyway I read about an older, more powerful ScanSnap on the Uncluterer blog, which has some useful tips to help you stay organised. Then I saw the price of the current S1500 and that scared me off.

After a bit of research the S300 seemed to offer most of the benefits but at a much reduced price. The main difference is the inclusion of Adobe Acrobat in the more expensive S1500 model against the more portable design of the the S300. So after a bit of deliberating I took the plunge and bought the Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 from Ebuyer.com for about £162.

Features

As mentioned above this is purely a sheet fed scanner, so you cannot scan pages of a book, but is designed to handle multi-page documents.

This scanner allows for duplex scanning, scanning both sides of a document at the same time, and can ignore blank pages. This works pretty well but sometimes creasing in the paper makes blank pages get included. That’s not a big deal though as the pages can always be removed, after the document has been created, using something like PDFTK Builder if required.

Searchable PDFs are another useful feature and the OCR (Optical Character Recognition) seems to work very well.

As the scanner is not TWAIN compatible so you have to use the provided software. The software seems smooth and unobtrusive so this does not detract from the usability. I am currently using Vista x64 without any issues but have not tried the software on any other operating system so you should probably check the your OS is supported.

Scanned documents can be added to a library style program called ScanSnap Organizer, which is supplied with the printer but I just file the PDF documents created in the appropriate place on the filesystem to allow me to find it at a later date. The searchable PDF function will probably help with this in the future.h I haven’t had a reason to search for a document yet as my filing system seems to allow me to find anything I want quite quickly anyway.

The different quality levels do effect the speed of the scan but even the higher quality settings are still quite quick. Add to that the document feeder that allows up to 10 pages to be scanned at a time it makes scanning documents a snip. There is also an option to continue saving the same document allowing you to scan larger documents in chunks and end up with just one PDF at the end.

Scans can include paper of different sizes and the auto-size and rotation detection works pretty well. Occasionally I get a page rotated the wrong way but this is quite rare.

There is also automatic colour/black and white detection but I turned this off at black and white mode is a bit like a fax and so if a page is mainly text the scan tends to be converted to black and white even if the text was grey. This may reduce the size of the PDF a fair bit but the quality degradation was too much for me.

Another feature is the ability to scan in and store business cards in a program called CardMinder. I haven’t got around to trying this out yet though so cannot comment on this.

Quality

The unit itself seems very solid and well made. Even though it is supposed to be a portable model it feels at home on my desk and this has the added bonus of having a very small footprint. The top fold out to provide the paper tray and even though this is extendible plastic it still seems fairly solid compared to some printer trays I have some across.

The PDF’s produced are of very good quality as well, especially if you opt for the “best” quality setting or higher.

I have even used this for scanning in photos and the quality is much better than the scanner built into my HP Printer.

Conclusion

Excellent. A very useful addition to any work environment. I can’t recommend it enough as it allows me to process my inbox in a fraction of the time it used to take.

Image: Creative Commons License karendotcom127

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