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3 document scanners: Move your data from paper to pixels

Brian Nadel | March 8, 2013
While the dream of a paper-free world has yet to materialize (assuming it ever will), using scanners to store digital copies of hardcopy documents has become de rigueur for most businesses, from enterprise-level operations to single-person startups.

Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500

Small and compact, the Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500 packs a lot of punch with its ability to connect in a variety of ways and work with several online storage systems.

The Fujitsu ScanSnap takes up only 11.5 x 6.2 x 6.6 in. (WDH) of desktop space when it's closed, making it the smallest of the three. The scanner expands to 19.5 in., nearly the same size as the Brother ImageCenter with its feeder and output trays set up.

Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500

While the Panasonic system has three scan buttons and the Brother ImageCenter offers eight different scan profiles, the Fujitsu ScanSnap has only one, making it the most minimalist of the three. The long, rectangular button glows blue when the machine is ready to scan, which is a neat visual effect.

The scanner has a dual-element 600dpi optical scanning engine (so, like the other two scanners, it can scan both sides of a document at once) and can create single-bit, grayscale and 24-bit color files. The automatic document feeder can hold 50 sheets, can scan single sheets up to 34-in. long and can handle up to 56-lb. paper stock. Fujitsu rates its performance at speeds of up to 25ppm.

The Fujitsu ScanSnap connects with a computer via USB 3.0; the other scanners use the older and slower USB 2.0 standard. It is equipped with a Wi-Fi connection as well, but lacks an Ethernet port.

Unlike the other scanners, the Fujitsu ScanSnap uses proprietary drivers and can't work with more standard TWAIN or ISIS drivers. This means that it won't work with all third-party applications; if you're already using, say, a business-card scanning app, it's best to check with Fujitsu to see if your software is compatible with the scanner.

The included ScanSnap Organizer software shows thumbnails of scans, has some basic editing features, adjusts most scanning parameters and lets you assign one of several tasks to the ScanSnap's single scan button.

The device also includes Adobe Acrobat X Standard, Fujitsu's CardMinder business-card software and ABBY FineReader for ScanSnap 5.0, which can render a scanned original as a Word, Excel or PowerPoint file, Google Doc or contact data.

You can send scans to a variety of applications, including Word and Photoshop. You can also send scans directly to cloud services such as Evernote, Dropbox, Google Docs, SharePoint and SugarSync using the scanner's built-in Wi-Fi networking. However, the Fujitsu ScanSnap can't send a scan to an FTP site or directly to a USB drive as the Brother ImageCenter can.

At a Glance

Fujitsu ScanSnap ix500


Price: $495.00

Pros: Compact, relatively fast, has USB 3.0 ports, has apps for iOS and Android devices


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