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Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 Portable Scanner

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Fujitsu ScanSnap

The ScanSnap has a small footprint, yet is a sturdy portable scanner.

Photo © Melanie Pinola

The Bottom Line

The Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 is one of those devices you might not think you need, but after getting one you'll wonder how you ever survived without it. Touted as the world's smallest duplex ADF (Automatic Document Feeder) scanner, the ScanSnap can help you organize your files, whether at the office or on the road. It quickly digitizes documents into searchable PDFs, has a small footprint, and can be powered off of USB.

The ScanSnap is a worthwhile investment for all remote workers, and an especially ideal tool for those on the road who need to send critical documents, like contracts, immediately to the head office.

Pros

  • "One touch" instant PDF or JPEG file creation
  • Fast duplex scanning
  • Easy to carry in a briefcase or laptop bag
  • Automatic image correction
  • Excellent build quality

Cons

  • Need to install software before use (not just plug-and-play)
  • Not Twain/WIA compliant; you can only scan using the ScanSnap software
  • Powering via laptop USB requires two USB ports
  • Full version of Adobe Acrobat not included, as with the larger (more expensive) models
  • Carrying case costs extra

Description

  • Dimensions: 11.18 in. x 3.74 in. x 3.03 in. (284mm x 95mm x 77mm)
  • Weight: 3.08 lb. (1.4kg) without power adapter
  • Optical resolution: up to 600 dpi
  • Speed: 8 pages per minute in color (150dpi), 16 pages per minute in B&W (300 dpi)
  • Paper Sizes: business card, letter, legal, and custom up to 8.5" x 14.17"
  • Automatic Document Feeder capacity: up to 10 sheets
  • Warranty: 1 year limited
  • MSRP: $295

Guide Review - Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 Portable Scanner

The ScanSnap has been sitting on my desk for over a year now, and it gets regular, almost weekly use. Besides using the scanner to "tame the paper tiger" and make digital backups of important documents like tax statements, the ScanSnap has been very useful as an outgoing fax machine substitute: I can quickly scan a document and then either email the file or use a free outgoing fax service to send the document over the Internet directly to the recipient's traditional fax machine. This alone has made the ScanSnap worth its price, which (at $295 MSRP) is a little on the high end compared to other mobile scanners.

What makes the ScanSnap unique is not just its portability, but its top-notch performance and features as a scanner in general. Other mobile scanners may be smaller or cheaper, but most of them require you to insert each sheet individually, whereas the ScanSnap can auto-feed up to 10 pages at a time, scanning both sides of each page at once. Compared to other scanners designed for mobile use, the ScanSnap is also a bit heavier, weighing in at 3 pounds, but this is a small tradeoff for its sturdy, rock solid construction (durability, of course, being a big plus for portable equipment).

The ScanSnap comes with a main device manager program, a business card organizer, and a thumbnail viewer for JPEG and PDF files, but you only need to install the main program to use the ScanSnap. It would be nice if the scanner were truly plug-and-play and could be used with other software, but the ScanSnap Manager program is easy to install, doesn't take up a lot of system resources, and performs all the functions you'd expect from scanning software.

Once you've installed the main program and connected the scanner to your laptop via USB, using the ScanSnap couldn't be easier: open the cover to turn the scanner on, insert your document, and press the SCAN button to instantly start scanning. You can set up and quickly switch to different output profiles by clicking on the ScanSnap icon in your system tray: click "Scan2E-mail," for example, to have the document automatically inserted as an email attachment, or click "Searchable PDF" for full OCR scanning.

Scan quality has always been excellent, and even pages with faint text come in clear and sharp. If anything, the ScanSnap may be too sensitive; at times if you scan pages that are very thin, the ink will show through to the other side of the page and the ScanSnap will mistakenly duplex scan the back side, resulting in an inverted image of the front. This is a rare occurrence, though, and the ScanSnap can auto correct other common scan issues like skewed or blank pages.

All in all, the ScanSnap has become an essential productivity tool for me. If you're in the market for a mobile scanner or even just a sheetfed scanner that won't take up a lot of space on your desk, the ScanSnap definitely deserves your consideration.

Note: the ScanSnap S300 model works only with Windows, but Fujitsu also has a S300M version for the Mac. The newer ScanSnap 1300 has many of the same specs and features as the S300 but is cross-platform capable.

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