Plenty of tech-savvy lawyers recommend the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 scanner, and for good reason. The scanner is small, fast, dependable, and will get the job done the vast majority of the time. The iX500 is the newest desktop model in the ScanSnap line, and adds a couple of key hardware improvements over the previous version. A new mechanical roller aids in document scanning, and wireless connectivity means there are now even more methods of adding your document to the cloud.
An Extra Roller Reduces Jams
The extra roller was a great feature, and I have noticed a significant decrease in the number of times the scanner accidentally pulls more than one sheet through the feeder at the same time. Now, the only time I’ve run into jams is when I have missed a staple or the document was crumpled or otherwise in bad shape before I ran it through the scanner. Other than that, jams and errors in scanning are very infrequent, in large part due to the new roller.
Wireless Connectivity Makes it Easier to Digitize Documents
Wireless connectivity is a great and welcome addition as well. In previous versions of the ScanSnap, the scanner had to be attached via USB to a computer in order to function. Without the USB hookup to a computer, the scanner would not work at all. In today’s world of smartphones and tablets, sometimes I simply did not have a computer around, and just wanted to scan using my iPhone. The new version makes this possible.
First, wireless connectivity should be appreciated by anyone who brings a laptop to and from the office and dreads having to plugin the USB cord every time they needed to use the scanner. After going through a quick and easy to use setup, the wireless connectivity between a laptop and the ScanSnap is identical to the process for USB connectivity.
The real advances in wireless come with the addition of a smartphone app. Personally, I’m an iPhone user, and am incredibly happy with the iOS app. By using the ScanSnap software on my iPhone, I am able to scan documents directly to my phone and save them to any other app that accepts document sharing on my phone. This includes Dropbox, Evernote, and our software of choice, Google Drive, all of which I have tested. This workflow should also work with other apps such as NetDocs, Box, or other iOS apps which accept documents as input.
Downsides to Wireless Connectivity
The only downside is that the software only allows users to configure one laptop for a wireless connection. This means that if I want to scan documents wirelessly to my laptop, no one else in the office can use their laptop to scan wirelessly. Although the setup process is easy, you will not want to go through the configuration process each time you change devices, so it’s impractical to connect more than one laptop.
The only other downside I’ve found occurs when a call comes through on the phone. The call will disconnect the scanner and phone, and scanning will need to start from the beginning. As a result, for larger documents, I prefer to connect the ScanSnap to my computer via USB.
We have set up wireless connectivity in our office in two separate ways. I work with a single partner, and we have no support staff. We placed the ScanSnap in our conference room, and set up the ScanSnap to connect wirelessly to my partner’s computer, and wirelessly to my iPhone. This way, we both have wireless access.
When my partner scans a document, his computer will automatically start receiving the scan. He is able to save the resulting PDF on his desktop and process it from there.
As an iOS user, my workflow is a little different. I have to open the ScanSnap app on my iPhone and start the scanning process from there. The scanner then reads all the documents and saves them as a PDF within the app. From there, I use iOS sharing to export the document into Google Drive. This syncs with my desktop, and I’m able to rename, review, and process the document there.
Beware of Large Documents
My only complaint about the ScanSnap is that it does not easily accept a large volume of documents, and generally maxes out at around 50 pages, or less if the papers have been creased or folded. If a document is beyond that, such as medical records or a deposition then that job needs to be broken up and scanned individually rather than just dumped in the tray all at one time. The software will combine the final PDF, but this still means that you’ll need to be prepared by the scanner to feed in multiple sets of documents. Because of this limitation, if you have a practice with significant amount of large documents, you may want to consider another scanner.
Finally, the ScanSnap software should not be overlooked. As part of the retail package, users will receive ABBYY FineReader software, which will OCR documents in the background and make them searchable. This means that users can continue to scan while other documents are processing. The desktop software can also scan directly to several cloud-base providers, such as Google Drive, Clio, and Evernote.
Fujitsu has done such a good job of building this software that it is hard to imagine a workflow that the scanner cannot handle. By building software that’s compatible with many different software providers, Fujitsu makes it easy to fit many different workflows. In addition to the software I’ve already mentioned, the ScanSnap can scan to email, Sharepoint, Excel, Salesforce, Sugarsync, and more. The scanning options listed on the Fujitsu website are so extensive that it’s almost intimidating. In the end though, that is a good thing. Whatever your preference is, you’re likely to find a solution within the software that allows you to create a workflow that fits your needs, rather than having to adjust your workflow to the software.
Finally, the ScanSnap also comes bundled with Adobe Acrobat X Standard (for Windows only), which itself is a $160 value, and will make working with PDFs that much easier.
Overall, I am very happy with my ScanSnap, and would recommend it to any small firm looking for an efficient, effective scanner.
Feature image © Fujitsu