The paperless journey continues with the Fujitsu Scansnap S1500

I have been using the Doxie scanner for a couple of months now and I enjoyed the compactness of the unit plus the ease of scanning those loose pieces of paper directly into evernote. Like I said before in my previous blog, the Doxie is ideal for low volume scans. It has its limitations.

Recently I decided to digitize some technical reference papers and I find that the Doxie is just too slow for this type of work. Adding to the fact that the technical papers are really thick and double sided, scanning using Doxie does not take long to become a nightmare. I decided to bite the bullet and ordered a Fujitsu Scansnap.

I need a real workhorse scanner with a sizeable document feeder and can find no other machine better suited for this application (at a reasonable price) than the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500.

There are 2 models – The S1500 and S1500M. The S1500 is mainly for the Windows people and the S1500M for the Mac converts. I chose the S1500 because I tend to use Windows more at home. The only difference as far as i can tell is the colour of the machine itself plus the version of software that comes bundled with it.

I bought the S1500 directly from Amazon. The price of the unit itself plus shipping is still more than AUD $100 cheaper than the cheapest price I can find in Australia. Considering that the aussie dollar is above parity against US dollars, it is hard not to take advantage of this situation and order from overseas.

So here it is….my Fujistsu ScanSnap S1500. The unit is surprisingly compact beyond my expectations. It is even smaller when the lids are folded.

When the lids are open revealing the document feeder, the unit still does not take up much desk space.

There is only ONE button (perhaps taking a clue from Apple’s iphone/ipad?). There is no other button apart from the Scan button which is illuminated with a blue soothing LED.

The unit comes with a very impressive suite of software. This is a stark contrast to what I get from Doxie (but I have to be fair here. The Doxie is 3 times cheaper than the ScanSnap).

These are the software that comes with the unit.

  • ScanManager
  • ScanOrganizer (Now this is a great software, more about that later)
  • CardMinder (I find this software not so useful)
  • Adobe Acrobat X Standard (Getting this software free is just Great!)
  • Abby Finereader v4.1 (This is also very useful)

So if you do the maths and deduct the cost of Acrobat and Finereader from the price of the S1500, you will find that the S1500 hardware itself is really at rock bottom price. I couldn’t recommend this enough.

Okay. There are many things I like about this unit:

1. It is able to scan pages of various sizes with little effort and adjust the scanning paper size automatically. Say you are scanning a receipt which is usually a thin strip of paper. The Fujitsu is able to scan the paper and adjust the paper size automatically such that when u bring up the PDF on screen, the paper size reflect the size of the original copy. Maybe it is easier to illustrate with an example here. To be fair, the Doxie Scanner can also do this well.

2. Page skew is very much reduced and most of the pages are brought in through the document feeder very well aligned. Doing this is a little more challenging with the Doxie (not impossible with practice but not so straightforward compared to the ScanSnap).

3. Great duplex feature. This is a really useful feature if you are scanning double sided pages. Scanning speed is also very speedy. A big bonus if you are scanning in high volume.

4. Able to handle different paper sizes on the same scan. Say you are scanning a receipt, an A5 paper and an A4 paper. You can just stack them one above another and the Fujitsu is able to draw the correct page at the right time. I did not observe any paper jam so far (but the unit is still new, so time will tell).

5. A very useful crop feature. This is one of the highlight the software can do and I am very impressed. Say you are reading this article and there is this particular section that interest you. You can use a highlighter pen and highlight that section (I just draw a rectangle surrounding the section I want). When you pass that article through the scanner, there is this software feature that automatically crops this out and save as a new PDF. Unfortunately, this ONLY works when the article is in black and white print. Most newspaper now come in colour print so I suppose this feature is only useful for selected document.

For the receipt above, I draw a pink highlight around the text of interest as follows. After scanning, the receipt will look like this.

On ScanOrganizer, press the “Crop Marked Section” button and the software will crop out the highlighted section and save to a new PDF file. This looks like this. Pretty neat I feel.

6. The software works right from the box and works so seamlessly with the unit that it is amazing. The integration is very well thought of and reflected the kind of engineering that went into the product. The ScanOrganizer in particular is a joy to use and is in my opinion how a PDF organizer should be. Its interface resembles Paperworks Pro (but the last time I tried Paperworks, I don’t find the software too useful for me. It is slow and buggy in my opinion) and is really easy to use.

One of the feature I enjoy is to be able to rename the PDF right from the organizer itself. Say you have a bunch of files that you just scanned, you can just highlight the file you want to rename, press F2 and type away. It is that simple. And because the thumbnail is visible behind, it makes renaming the file a lot easier.

The ability to automatically convert the PDF to a searchable format by doing OCR automatically is a time saver.

Another feature is that the organizer allows you to combine several files and save it as one PDF (pretty similar to Doxie’s Staple feature).

Last but not least, the Organizer software allows you to define the “ScanSnap Folder” as one of the folder on your PC. What I did is to point this to one of my personal document folder (where I keep all the personal documents in a tree hierarchy and ScanOrganizer will present the content of that folder in a cabinet like format. Pretty neat.

Other nice features that may come in handy in future is the ability for the scanner to recognize a keyword on the paper and use that keyword to tag the document name accordingly. I did not use this feature yet.

All in all, I like the unit and I hope the ScanSnap is able to serve its purpose well for the years to come. I have no reservations to recommend this unit to anyone.

In the coming days I will write about my PDF workflow with the ScanSnap. Stay tuned 🙂

Posted on March 10, 2012, in Going Paperless and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Hey Joseph – sorry about my constant questions. I really appreciate you taking the time to help me. I am loving reading about your paperless journey!

    This might be a very silly question so I apologise in advance. My question is: when you use the ScanSnap to create a searchable PDF, does the document retain all original formatting and does the scanned document display the text 100% as it was in the original? For example, if I scan a bank statement or a recipt as a searchable PDF, will the PDF version look the same as the original and have the same content?

    The reason I ask this is that I have looked at some video reviews where people have used the OCR within the S1100 to create editable Word docs and the text that comes through to the Word doc is not 100% the same as the original (especially when using an unusual font or handwritten text).

    I don’t need to create editable docs, I just want to be able to search my docs so I can find them in a few years time when I’m in paperless bliss!

    Thanks again!

  2. Hi Suse, stay tuned for my Part 2 of this series. All of your questions are already addressed in that article 🙂

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