Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 (review)

Our appetite for digital doesn’t stop at magazines, newspapers, and books. We want to be able to digitise paper receipts, invoices, articles and everything else that’s produced in paper format as well. Getting paper into a computer can be tedious or easy, depending on the scanner being used. The ScanSnap S1300 makes it easy, fast and surprisingly much fun.

I really didn’t know a scanner could be such fun. I mean, I have tested and reviewed the Doxie Go. That was fun, but the fun stops when the scanner starts grabbing your paper in such ways that no image is being generated. This doesn’t happen often, but when it happens, it always happens at the most awkward times, stopping you in your tracks. That’s not how it’s supposed to work.

IT Enquirer rating

9.5/10

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Pros
  • Performance
  • Scanning quality
  • Software capabilities
  • Mac OS X integration (incl. Mountain Lion)
  • Duplex scanning
Cons
  • Requires connection with a computer
Price (approx.): €305.00

I have yet to see this happen with the ScanSnap S1300 I’ve been testing for the past weeks. Fujitsu sent me the ScanSnap S1300deluxe, which is not the latest version (the S1300i is 50% faster) but comes with a Windows application Rack2-Filer.

Rack2-Filer is Fujitsu software that helps you file scanned documents in a way that closely mimics the physical world. You’ll get binders and you’ll fill those binders with documents. You can even set an upper limit for the number of documents each binder can have. Of course, Rack2-Filer adds the power of digital to this physical mimicry, but in my opinion it’s really only efficient if you’re not used to working with digital files. I can imagine an older lawyer, for example, being perfectly happy with this app.

For this review, however, I chose to test the ScanSnap S1300d on the Mac, and see how it behaves with DEVONthink Pro Office (reviewed here link icon).

Image of DEVONthink Pro Office dialogue for the ScanSnap

ScanSnap hardware

First, let’s turn our attention to the hardware. The ScanSnap S1300 range is characterised by scanners that are a bit wider than an A4 sheet, a bit higher than two 3″5 disks sitting on top of each other, and a bit deeper than a standard Post-It sticky. I was surprised by the weight of the unit — it feels solid and robust. The top is a lid that does double-duty as a retractable page guide.

The ScanSnap S1300d has a scan speed of 8ppm; the newest S1300i is 50% faster, i.e. 12ppm. This is the scanner’s top performance, i.e. with the pages scanned as black and white and the lowest quality setting. I tried the scanner at the best setting (not the excellent setting, which is as slow as the Doxie Go) and performance was still quite enjoyable.

The ScanSnap S1300 range is mobile, but it does need an AC adapter to be plugged in for fastest performance. An extra USB power cable is included in the box — you can indeed power this scanner via USB as well. The latter opens more options than you’d expect. Sure, you can hook up the ScanSnap S1300 to your MacBook, but then your laptop’s battery will suffer a hit. Instead, you can also opt to power the scanner via a Powermonkey Extreme (reviewed here link icon), which provides the 5V power needed to run the scanner for an indefinite period of time.

One final word on the hardware: this is a real scanner, with a (short) glass scanner surface and a proper ADF (Automatic Document Feeder), which means you can scan up to ten pages in one scanning session. That is also the greatest appeal of the ScanSnap S1300 in terms of hardware: it scans multiple pages, keeping your paper straight even if the page bumps into obstacles in its output path (away from the scanner).

Screenshot of ScanSnap Manager scanner settings

This has a disadvantage too: you need a computer to hook it up to. You can’t just scan to a SD card…

ScanSnap software

The software that you’ll get with the ScanSnap S1300 is of a quality and design I have yet to see from a company that focuses on the enterprise and office market and not on the consumer market like Apple does. The ScanSnap Manager is a middleware that takes care of the entire scanning process, including the ability to scan to Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs, Mail, print, and to folder. It has an excellent automatic de-skewing and page rotation functionality.

The software supports two modes of operation: a Quick Menu, which essentially is an Assistant driven workflow, or the Profile mode, which is a sort of expert mode. I say “sort of” because you don’t need to be an expert to set up the scanning process.

The profile mode lets you create up to 20 profiles, but out-of-the-box, the ScanSnap already has 12 profiles set up. If you have a copy of DEVONthink Pro Office, you’ll get a brand new application added automatically to the ScanSnap Manager by simply launching DEVONthink Pro Office. It will detect the presence of ScanSnap Manager and add its integration script.

Screenshot of ScanSnap S1300 ScanSnap Manager's supported applications with DEVONthink added.

You can then create a new profile for DEVONthink Pro, or use it as the standard profile — which has the added benefit that you don’t need to select it first.

ScanSnap Manager handles everything, from scanner image quality, to PDF (or JPEG) settings, to OCR capabilities (ABBY FineReader; the best available). Here you can also set whether the scanner will accept multiple page sizes in one scanning session (automatically sensing the different sizes) or whether it will auto-detect the length of the paper when scanning multiple pages at once.

ScanSnap Manager also enables you to create tags or keywords in DEVONthink Pro Office (and other apps that support this feature) based on highlighted text — you highlight text with a yellow marker and the scanner identifies it and OCR’s it. And of course, you can set where the documents should be saved.

You can scan to tablets and smartphones, but unfortunately I could not test this functionality. However, you do need a computer as a go-between, so many people might find this not as handy as they would like it to be.

Screenshot of Rack2-Filer, Windows software delivered with the ScanSnap S1300 deluxe.

With my test unit came a copy of the Windows software, Rack2-Filer. Rack2-Filer converts documents into PDFs, which can then be managed, used and shared as with paper files in a physical world. The PDFs are created using a special printer driver and are stored in a folder that holds all Libraries, Cabinets and Binders together. Up to three of these so-called LibRoot folders can be created.

One LibRoot folder can hold up to six Libraries. One Library can contain up to 20 Cabinets, and each Cabinet can have up to 21 Binders. As every Binder can have 1,000 pages, and you can have up to 2,520 Binders in one LibRoot folder, the ultimate number of pages you can store in Rack2-Filer is 7,560,000.

That’s quite enough for a legal office or a medium-sized business. But again, I personally believe it’s only useful for people who have an allergy to anything digital.

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