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An assortment of thoughts.  Mostly tech related.

Dipping your toe into the world of paperless - The Scanner

Getting a decent scanning is an important first step into the world of having a truly paperless office.  Scanning, electronic filing and shredding vast quantities of paperwork is addictive and quite satisfying and it makes an enormous difference having the right tool for the job.

It's worth investing a bit of money on the right kind of gear for this job.  Unfortunately, unless you're super-patient and have all the time in the world, a flatbed scanner for $99 isn't going to cut it.   You need a document scanner which is purpose built for high volume scanning of documents.

My recommendation is the Fujitsu Scansnap range of scanners.  Personally, I have their S1500M for Mac, which cost around AUD690 a few years ago.  The S1500M has been replaced by the Fujitsu Scansnap iX500 which comes with software for the Mac or PC - it's faster than the S1500M, it's cheaper and wireless.

There are three models in the Fujitsu Scansnap range: 

  • S1100 - A portable USB/Mains powered document scanner - one for the briefcase or if you need to scan on the run.
  • S1300i - Fujitsu's entry level desktop scanner
  • iX500 - Another Duplex scanner, faster, wireless.  A true scanning workhouse.  This scanner is my top pick.  They're not cheap, but grab one - they're a godsend.

Fujitsu scanners typically come with a suite of great software include the Scansnap manager software which enables the creation of scanning profiles.  This makes it nice and easy to quickly scan in particulat types of documents.  For instance, you might want a profile that scans in colour, double-sided, one pdf file per sheet, and OCR'ed (optical character recognition - makes the content of the scanned document searchable) - great for munching groups of consistent format bills. 

For my money, a document scanner has to have the following checklist of features:

  • Scan in duplex - this means automatic, double-sided scanning.  If you've got to sit there and flip pieces of paper to scan the reverse sides, it's going to go get very old, fast.
  • Quality scanner software with configurable scanning profiles (see above) 
  • Optical Character Recognition (OCR) - this technology enables the software to 'read' the contents of the scanned image and make the text accessible.  It converts the image of text into actual text that you can copy and paste elsewhere. Also makes it a breeze to find documents if you're using software that indexes the contents of the documents on your system. 
  • A straight-through paper path - this reduces paper jams and does a better job of handling slightly crumpled/folded papers.

If you're serious about going paperless, you can't do it (easily) with a "Mickey-Mouse scanner" . You need a quality scanner with a bit of grunt and document-specific scanning features. Consider a Fujitsu Scansnap, and if you're really serious grab an iX500 - it can handle almost anything you throw at it.  You won't be disappointed.

Have some scanning tips, or a scanner to recommend? Post a comment below to share.