Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100: A well-designed mobile scanner

If you need to travel light, the ScanSnap S1100 will digitize your hard copies quickly and efficiently

These days, many of us who need copies of documents away from the office are relegated to strategies such as snapping photos with our cell phones and e-mailing them to ourselves. That's fine if it's only once in a while, but if you deal with a lot of documents or are just dissatisfied with your strategy, the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 mobile scanner ($199) is an alternative.

What does it do? Fujitsu's ScanSnap S1100 is a lightweight, single-sheet mobile scanner that is geared toward the traveler who wants to be able to make digital copies of documents quickly and easily. It scans at 600 x 600 dpi and can handle documents from 1 x 1 in. to 8.5 x 14 in.; it's powered by the same USB cable that connects it to your computer.

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100
Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100

The ScanSnap, which is compatible with both Windows PCs and Macs, comes with three software packages: ScanSnap Organizer, which lets you configure and organize your scans; CardMinder, a simple business card organizer; and ABBYY FineReader, an optical character recognition (OCR) application.

What's cool about it? The ScanSnap hardware is quite well designed. To begin with, there are very few controls to deal with. You just connect the scanner to your computer via its USB cable and pull the front paper feed forward to start it up. You then insert your document and press the scanner's single large LED button; the scan immediately begins.

Documents normally feed straight through to the back of the scanner, but if you are in cramped quarters, you can flip up a back panel and the paper will exit straight up instead. And if something gets stuck, the main top panel flips up as well, giving you full access to the innards.

I tried the ScanSnap out on various types of documents and found that it worked quite well. When you start a scan, a small window pops up on-screen that lets you either scan another document (you can scan a number of documents in succession; I did 20 without a problem) or stop the job and allow all the scans you've done to be processed. You can save the scan either as a PDF (which you can have converted to a searchable PDF) or as a JPEG file.

You then can choose where you want your scan to go: directly to the Organizer, to a specific folder on your computer, to e-mail, to print, to a Microsoft Word or Excel document, etc. You can also send your scan directly to either Evernote or Google Docs, which users of those applications will find highly useful -- for example, I was able to send a bunch of business cards to my Evernote account very quickly. (I also appreciated that you have a choice of whether to send a scan to Evernote as a PDF or a JPEG.)

What needs to be fixed? While you can tweak many of the settings for the scanner, some of the settings were a little difficult to find.

Also, be aware that Fujitsu's ScanSnap scanners don't tend to use standard drivers, so while Organizer allows you to send a scanned document to several applications, you can't scan something to an application from within that application, as you can with most other scanners.

Bottom line: Fujitsu's ScanSnap S1100 is an excellent way to be able to scan documents into your computer for storage and/or reference, especially when you're traveling or if you have limited space on your desk.

Barbara Krasnoff is reviews editor at Computerworld. When she isn't either editing or reviewing, she blogs at The Interesting Bits ... and Bytes; you can also follow her on Twitter (@BarbaraKrasnoff).


Copyright © 2011 IDG Communications, Inc.

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