Doxie Scanner – My First step towards Paperless
We are starting to have a fair bit of paperwork in the house accumulated over the years that it has become quite a chore to file them, maintain them, keep them happy and singing so that when we need to find a piece of paper, the filing system will be willing to spew out whatever we are looking for. Most of the time, I am doing “REsearch” and this is taking a lot of my time and I think I have better things to do than searching old file archives…..such as watching TV 🙂
So the no-brainer conclusion is that we should go paperless. I know this is a very ambitions project and I have no idea whatsoever when we can achieve this, but getting a start right now helps me to get one step closer. Again, the no-brainer first baby step would be to buy a scanner.
Fujitsu Scansnap would be the ideal best choice for this purpose but I am a cheapskate. So I hunt around for a more affordable alternative and I ended up with Doxie made by the company call Apparent. The scanner cost me USD149 and shipping from USA to Australia cost me another USD30. With the strength of the Oz dollar right now, this cost me just a little shy of Aud180. Not too bad I thought. A student would be able to get the exact same scanner for USD119 so this is a really good deal. Apparent also sell another scanner call Doxie Go but I did not get that. I may elaborate more on this on another post. A Fujitsu Scansnap 1300 would have cost me around Aud400 I think but for those who can (or willing to) afford this, I would say go for the Scansnap by any means.
Shipping from USA is via USPS and tracking is almost nil after the package left USA. It took me around 15 days for the package to arrive at my door and the process of waiting for an important parcel without any tracking information is no fun at all. So here it is, my doxie scanner. The package is well packed. No signs of damage whatsoever. Cool.
Unboxing the box, this is what I found: The scanner itself, a LONG USB cable (perhaps too long for me), a quick start guide, and some funny looking papers in a plastic sheet. I later learnt that these funny looking papers are actually used for the calibration of the scanner.
The scanner comes with a nice pouch. A nice touch I guess, especially for someone who might want to use this scanner on the move.
The scanner might appeal more to ladies than men (hint: look at all the heart shape symbols). I am cool with this, however, and I actually quite like the design.
The first complain I have is that the scanner’s USB cable is too long for me. It might work well if the scanner is fixed on a table but if the scanner is designed for people on the move, I am sure mucking around with a long cable in a tight space (such as in a library, a plane, etc) is not fun. But this is just a petty remark from me. I just replace this with another shorter USB cable I have around the house.
The second complain is that the scanner has a relatively “insecure” USB port and any slight twist of the USB cable will render the scanner “off line” as the USB port is then undetectable. I am not sure if other users experience the same thing as I do, but this is not a biggie.
Doxie comes with a companion software that you can download from their website. Doxie is cross-platform and you can download a Mac version or a Windows version. My observation is that the Mac version appears to be more polished than the Windows version. Oh well, you can’t beat the Mac. I am a Windows user by the way. The download is less than 10MB in size. Cool. I don’t like bloated software.
Installing the software is easy. I am running the latest version 2.0.1 as we speak. The software acts like a management console for all your scans and after the scans are made, you can then send the scans to the cloud, to a local app or to save it to a folder. Doxie can save the scan directly to a PDF file which is a good thing. Doxie even offer a free Doxie Cloud for its users though I don’t personally use it. I am sure it may be useful to other people.
After experimenting with a couple of different settings, this is what I have configured my Doxie to:
I just assign a simple default filename to each scan. In this case, my scans will be called Doxie_2011_12_06_12_20_23 for instance. The actual filename is not really important to me at this stage (because I will rename the files to a more meaningful description) but assigning a date and time to each scan allows me to keep track of things somewhat. I unclick the sound effects because it is starting to annoy me.
The next setup has a lot to do with the filesize desirable from each scan. Hard disk space is cheap. I set mine to the highest setting available. I also set the “Automatic document contrast boost” to “high” because I feel this makes the scan much more sharper and the text crispier.
There is nothing we can do at the “OCR” setting because this is only available for Doxie Go users.
The next setting is for the Local Apps that will work with Doxie. I have setup this up for Evernote, and Faststone Viewer. You might observe that there is a third item call “Inbox.cmd” and this is a trick that I have developed. I will talk more about that later.
The next setting is for the cloud apps that will work with Doxie. Google Docs is well supported and so is Flickr and Scribd but Dropbox is not supported! I am not too happy with this. But, I have a workaround that work well for me. I will talk more about that in another post.
The last setting is for Doxie Cloud which I do not use, so I will not discuss that here.
So how does the scanner actually work? The scanner is a pass through scanner and has an internal feeder that pulls the paper into the scanning mechanism but sometimes it fails to grip the paper at the right place and sometimes when it does, it tends to pull at an odd angle causing the paper to skew. It takes me some trials and errors before I managed to get more success scanning stuff this way. But most of the time, the scans are still not 100% straight. I guess this is where paying the extra $200 to get the Fujitsu Scansnap is worth the money. The Fujitsu comes with its own sheet feeder mechanism and from what I see, scanning on the Fujitsu is a much better experience.
I am not too fuss with this shortcomings. It could have been better but the most important is the clarity of the scans, which are acceptable to me.
This is what happens if the paper gets skew. See the top part of the scan here.
This is a more successful run.
This is what it looks like on my screen when i zoom in to the PDF.
I think the quality is acceptable. I tend to scan using grayscale 300dpi for most documents but where it is a colour document, I will scan in colour 300dpi. This is what a colour document looks like in doxie.
The skew does not make the document look too good but ignoring this shortcoming, I would say the scan in colour is just fine.
The greyscale scan of this particular document is about 5.8MB in size. The colour one is about 7.9MB in size. So you can play around with the quality setting if this kind of file size bothers you.
So what is my personal conclusion with the Doxie scanner?
I would say the scanner is ideal for low volume scans but for high volume scanning, the Fujitsu scansnap is a better choice. If the feeding mechanism of the Doxie bothers you (and I suspect all other feed through scanners will be the same), then get the Scansnap. It should not disappoint but at a higher price tag, it will be a big let down if it does.