Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Deal of the week

Kodak i4200 Scanner

was: $7,314.74

Price: $6,314.74

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Scanner Review: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300

Contracts? Receipts? Bills? Business Cards? Bring 'Em On

People say that you can't take it with you. But with its new ScanSnap S1300 scanner, Fujitsu is out to show the world that sometimes you can. Priced at $295, the latest addition to the company's line of computer peripherals lets you hit the road with a scanner that weighs about as much as a netbook -- 3.1 pounds -- but can scan eight double-sided pages in a minute and even offers a 10-page automatic document feeder (ADF).

At 11.2 by 3.9 by 3 inches, the S1300 is small enough that it doesn't just claim to be portable -- it actually is. Adding to its portability, furthermore, is the fact that you don't even need the supplied AC power adapter to hit the road with your ScanSnap: Instead, you can choose to use one USB port to power the device while using another to communicate with your computer. The downside to this is that there's a significant performance hit (as in twice the time per job) when powering the S1300 by USB. But given that there are times when it's just not feasible to get to an electric outlet, it's nice to have both options available.

Inside the box, you'll find the expected documentation, an AC cable/adapter, a USB data cable, a USB bus power cable, and the setup DVD with Windows and Mac applications for managing and viewing PDF and JPG files and scanned business cards. The scanner works with all current versions of Windows (from Win 2000 through both the 32- and 64-bit editions of Windows XP, Vista, and 7), as well as with Mac OS X 10.4, 10.5, and 10.6. I tested it with a desktop running 64-bit Windows 7.

Setup is a matter of installing the software, plugging in the scanner, and flipping open its lid to turn it on. From there, with a press of a button (you can't miss it -- it's big, it's blue, and it's the only one on the scanner), the documents that have been loaded in the ADF are scanned and the ScanSnap software comes up, asking how you want the job handled.

Options range from using the included CardMinder software to turn business cards into contacts to moving your scanned documents into folders, sending them as e-mail attachments, or importing them into Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint. Also useful is the ability to scan directly to a printer, letting you use the ScanSnap S1300 to make quick copies, as needed.

Paperless Productivity
The ScanSnap S1300 has an optical resolution of 600 by 600 dpi and offers scanning speeds of up to 8 double-sided pages per minute (albeit at its lowest quality setting). Does it match the speed or quality of a full-sized, flatbed document scanner? Nope, and not even Fujitsu would claim that it does. But considering that it's small and light enough to carry around with you, the performance and accuracy it can deliver is more than adequate.

Text and images alike were reproduced faithfully enough to satisfy any typical business user, even if they might not impress photographers or graphic artists. And while not perfect, the included ABBYY optical character recognition (OCR) software's ability to recognize text in documents was pretty good.

We encountered some unusual handling of nonstandard text such as company logos or marred text, particularly when scanning business cards. But generally speaking, text was handled fairly well, even if some corrections were needed before we let the CardMinder software move cards' information into our Microsoft Outlook contact list.

One area where the S1300 might be thought to come up short is its lack of TWAIN or WIA compliance. This means that you'll be limited to using the included software and won't be able to scan directly into other applications you might be used to using such as Adobe Photoshop. But given how many file formats and options Fujitsu makes available and that software is provided for Windows and Mac users alike, this isn't exactly a fatal flaw. TWAIN or WIA functionality would have been nice, of course. But if the job is getting done, you're probably not going to worry about which specific tools are being used to do it.

Obviously, the ScanSnap isn't for someone who wants a desktop scanner for daily work with photos. Nor is it the cheapest choice for the business traveler who just wants to scan in a few business cards and receipts. But if you're looking for a portable scanner that crams so many features into so small a package, you'll have a hard time finding one better than the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300.

On a 5-star scale:
Features: *****
Performance: *****
Value: *****
Total: 15 out of 15

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