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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.

Cons: Awkward installation, can't scan to external USB drive, no TWAIN or ISIS support

The Fujitsu ScanSnap can work with both Windows PCs and Macs. However, I found its installation scheme, which involves two discs, to be disjointed; it took me about 30 minutes. This may be because it involves a variety of separate operations: I had to install ScanSnap Organizer, Acrobat X Standard and Fujitsu's software for moving scans online; I then had to download and install a 100MB update.

If you want to use the scanner with your smartphone, you can download the ScanSnap Connect Application for your iOS and Android device. There are no apps for Windows Phones at this point.

Performance and quality

The Fujitsu ScanSnap was the all-around performance winner of the trio, with a scan rate of 20.3ppm for the stack of 10 assorted documents and 4.1ppm for the magazine cover -- roughly twice the speed of the Panasonic. The Fujitsu ScanSnap stumbled slightly when turning five business cards into digital files with a rate of 38.1ppm, slightly behind the Panasonic but still faster than the Brother.

Its scans were sharp with well-defined edges and it was the only one of the three not to suffer a misfeed during testing and daily use.

Bottom line

The Fujitsu ScanSnap lists for $495 (the same as the Pansonic), and retails for $450 to $540. This is the one to get if space is at a premium and speed is of the essence.

Panasonic KV-S1015C

The most basic of the three scanners in this roundup, Panasonic's KV-S1015C desktop scanner offers a good measure of scanning flexibility.

At 11.9 x 7.0 x 5.4 in. (WDH), the Panasonic fits right in between the smaller Fujitsu ScanSnap and the larger Brother ImageCenter. With its feeder and paper tray open, it expands to a depth of 27 in., 10 in. longer than the ScanSnap.

Panasonic KV-S1015C

Unfortunately, unlike the other two scanners in this roundup, the Panasonic has limited connection capabilities. It comes with a single USB 2.0 port for connecting to a computer, but is not equipped with either Ethernet or Wi-Fi.

The Panasonic has two separate buttons for turning it on and off and three buttons that can each be assigned to a preset scan format; Panasonic even provides adhesive labels so that you can note which button does what.

Alternatively, to start a scan with the default settings (which can be set through the scanner's software), just feed a sheet of paper into the scanner -- it starts up automatically and sucks the sheet in. It's the only one of the three that offers this.

The Panasonic is equipped with two 600-dpi optical scanning elements that can create double-sided single-bit, grayscale and 24-bit color scans. The document feeder works with sheets up to 100 in. long, holds up to 50 sheets at a time and works with up to 55-lb. paper stock; Panasonic rates it at 20ppm.


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