Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 Portable Scanner Review

The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 scanner might just be the ultimate portable scanner. Ultra-mobile, high-quality, easy to use and surprisingly fast; the hardware’s solid, the software is versatile and the bundle is very affordable. In fact, it seems to have achieved all of the benchmarks with little to no sacrifice in any area.

Features and Design

First off, the hardware. At only 10.74” x 1.33” x 1.87” (273 x 47.5 x 34 mm) and about 12 ounces (350 g), it seems to almost blink out of existence when slipped into your bag. It needs no power cord and has no battery to recharge, as all of the power it needs is pulled from the USB. One cord and it’s ready to go whenever you are.

And not just one cord. The ScanSnap only has one button, too: A big, blue, illuminated “Scan/Stop” button.

Before you get to push this button, the drivers and software need to be installed. For this hands-on, I’ve installed all of the Mac software options from the included disc.

The first thing you’ll notice when you put in that disc is that it needs 1.3GB of space on your hard drive. That seems like a lot at first, until you realize it’s 1.3GB of OCR glory and a long list of programs, formats and connectivity options.

But I’ll start from the beginning.

In Theory

Bring a piece of A4-length paper, envelope, photograph, receipt, credit card, business card or anything in between up to the scanner’s feed slot and it’ll grab the end of the sheet. Hit the big blue button and whatever you’re scanning slides through, taking only 7.5 seconds to scan in a full letter-sized paper using its single Contact Image Sensor.

It only does one side at a time, but if you need both, simply flip the sheet over and insert again. No buttons to push, no settings to change, it just pulls in and keeps scanning. Multi-page document? No problem. It’ll keep scanning whatever you throw in there until you tell it you’re done. Different sizes? Still no problem. It automatically recognizes the sizes of each individual sheet.

Once you’re finished, the ScanSnap Manager program takes a moment to convert the image to a PDF and give it a once-over with its Optical Character Recognition software. Depending on the OCR settings and languages you have on and how many sheets you’ve put through, this can take anywhere from a couple seconds to a few minutes.

Once it’s finished, you’ll get this screen:

A quick run-down of these options:

  • Scan to Folder: Sends a searchable PDF version of your scan to any folder on your computer or network
  • •• Scan to Email: Turns your ScanSnap into a digital fax, converting documents to a searchable PDF and pushing directly through to your email client
  • •• Cardiris: Sends to the included Cardiris program, which automatically extracts information from your scanned business cards and helps create a digital archive of your rolodex
  • •• Scan to Print: Uses the ScanSnap in conjunction with your printer as a photocopier
  • •• Scan to Word (.doc): Scans directly to an editable Word file using ABBYY OCR (opens in Pages or other word processing programs if Microsoft Office isn’t installed on your computer)
  • •• Scan to Excel (.xls): Scans directly to an editable Excel file using ABBYY OCR (opens in Numbers or other spreadsheet programs if Microsoft Office isn’t installed on your computer)
  • •• Scan to Evernote: Sends your scan as either a PDF or Jpeg to your Evernote account
  • •• Scan to Google Docs: Converts the scan into an editable text document using ABBYY OCR and sends to your Docs account
  • •• Scan to iPhoto: Converts the file to a Jpeg image and imports into iPhoto

The Manager program allows you to choose your resolution – anywhere from the 150 colour/300 B&W minimum dpi to the 600 colour/1200 B&W maximum dpi – and compression rate, plus extra options for OCR language and which pages to look for text in.

In Practice

So how long does it take to turn your life paperless with this scanner? Using the “Automatic” settings for paper size, colour detection and image quality, I managed to push through eight years worth of notes, legal documents, artwork, photographs, tax receipts – everything I’ve gathered in that much time – in a paltry seven hours.

All of my photos and artwork are now together on iPhoto, all of my notes are searchable (findable, really) and readily available from anywhere on Evernote; papers of all sizes and levels of importance are neatly filed and old notebooks have been completely converted to PDF e-books. I’ve cut easily two hours and 40 lbs off of my next move. Through all this, the ScanSnap didn’t even break a sweat.

The paper shredder I borrowed, on the other hand, overheated six times from the exact same stack of papers and took nearly twice as much time.

The Bottom Line

The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 is everything a portable scanner should be: Portable, and a scanner. Fujitsu has demonstrated perfectly that these two traits aren’t mutually exclusive by any means. There’s been no sacrifice to quality whatsoever in bringing down the size or power usage.

There are a small handful of drawbacks I noticed. Over the course of those seven hours, it sometimes jammed up when a paper wasn’t aligned just right with the feed slot and the edge folded over on itself a bit. But even this only happened three times, and I’m assuming the same thing would have happened to any other scanner in the same situation.

It only loads one sheet at a time, and only reads one side at a time, but that’s still pretty standard and is more than enough for the average user.

The other thing is that it isn’t compatible with TWAIN or ISIS drivers and can’t be selected as a WIA source, so programs that use these drivers won’t be able to manipulate the ScanSnap directly. But I think the included software gives enough other options that this shouldn’t be a problem for most people.

And at about $200, neither should the price.

All in all, whether it’s for everyday use or solely for the road warrior, the ScanSnap S1100 is getting a well-deserved 9/10.

[Fujitsu S1100 product page]


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One Comment

  1. Dckstl says:

    bleh, this has been available in the form of Neat Company’s portable scanner for years I bought mine 4 years ago, very reliable, same set up with no power cord, same with OCR capability and more. Available at Office Depot and you can get it significantly cheaper – around 150 – 160. And no I don’t work for Neat Company but I love their well built, sturdy reliable product.

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