As a freelance writer and occasional research assistant—I spend a great deal of my time buried under piles of paper in libraries, coffee-shops, and the occasional office. In all instances, I’m glad to have my ScanSnap S1100. Tiny and light, it’s a page fed document scanner that lives in my briefcase and unfolds at a moment’s notice to digitize my research.
Tazim and I moved toward a paperless office years ago, and it’s a decision that neither of us regrets. Wondering how to get there, we first picked up an HP scanner with an auto-document feeder. It was a nightmare that almost made us give up on the whole thing. The sheet-feeder jammed frequently, and the OCR software included was less than useful.
For a while, we actually gave up on the idea, electing to only digitize as it was absolutely necessary—until I read an interview with Michael Chabon, who talked about a workflow using DevonThink Pro and a ScanSnap scanner. Intrigued, we read countless second opinions and finally saved enough pennies to buy a ScanSnap s1500m—the S1100’s big brother—it lives on a desk in our office and chews through mountains of paper at a time.
For us, the benefits of digitization are twofold. First, where we had two giant filing cabinets, we now have data on our hard-drives, and backed up on cd in our safe. This is actually a huge space-saving for us in our tiny apartment!Second, digitizing hardcopies of research material that we’d painstakingly accrued over years of digging through journals and magazines, has put all of that information at our fingertips. Picture the ability to Google your bookshelves, and then to pull out the snippets you’d usually just highlight. It’s pretty fantastic.
The S1100 fits into my own workflow perfectly. When I’m in the rare and special collection reading room at the university library, the only way to take out material is to have staff photocopy materials. I can’t count how many times I’ve paid their toll only to lose a page or two on the way home. Now I literally just pull out my ScanSnap and run them through on the spot. Because it’s USB powered, there’s only one cable. And the software included is sufficient to my needs. Best of all, the mechanics are truly top-notch, the feeder works excellently on a range of papers, even handling magazine paper with relative ease.
The S1100 includes Abby FineReader, powerful OCR software that allows you to convert inputed material into Word Documents, or text files. New features include the ability to scan directly into Evernote and Google Docs, both of which offer some level of text recognition. It also includes I.R.I.S. Sotware’s Card Iris, which digitizes business cards—a feature that I’d never really used until I started to attend conferences! Now I wonder how I got by without it, as it’s perfect for taking a thick stack of contacts and pushing them to your digital address book.
While it’s perfect for use on the go, the ScanSnap S1100 from Fujitsu obviously has some limitations. He’s simply too tiny for huge jobs! The page feeder on the S1100 is manual. You load a page at a time, then press the “scan” button which feeds the paper through the unit. The software makes it easy to then scan the reverse of the same, or the next page, into the same document—but I don’t know if it would be the ideal tool for a whole filing cabinet.
At 600 dpi, with both colour and greyscale modes, the scanner takes great quality scans. It’s more than adequate for most pictures, but if you wanted to blow something up, or to capture your family photos, you might be more satisfied with a flat-bed scanner specifically designed for photographic use.
Finally, the software included is really great—truly best in class for this type of scanner—but it can’t compare with the full version of Adobe Acrobat Reader that Fujitsu includes in with the S1500. If you have a small home office, or if you travel often, the S1100 might be the perfect companion for you. I really can’t get over the combination of compactness and capability that the S1100 offers, and can’t recommend it highly enough!
However, if you have a whole mountain of paper to tackle, or more than one or two of you at work, you may wish to consider the S1500, which can take many sheets at a time, offers simultaneous scanning of both document sides, and includes Adobe Acrobat! The cost of the ScanSnap 1100 is approximately $199.
Drop us a line in the comments if you have any questions! We’re working on bringing you a post or two about going paperless in the near future, look for it as port of our Lifelong Learner event in the fall.