Like many people this time of year, I’ve been giving a lot of consideration to New Year’s Resolutions. And, like many people this time of year, two things are at the top of my list: Getting better organized and losing weight.
Believe it or not, Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX500 helped me do both. With it, I was able to turn a mass of receipts, statements and other documents into a well-organized collection of PDFs. It also helped me get rid of an unsightly 20 pounds.
Of paper, that is.
For someone like me, used to using flatbed scanners, the ScanSnap is a remarkable piece of machinery. Put a stack of documents in the feeder at the top, press a single button and watch them come flying out — so fast, in fact, that I first thought the scanner was simply rejecting the pages and spitting them out.
Fujitsu says the iX500 scans at a rate of 25 pages per minute — and scans both sides of the page at the same time. It can accommodate different size documents in the feeder at the same time: receipts, credit card and bank statements, tax forms, etc. In our testing, the scanner performed nearly flawlessly — it jammed only once, on a badly crumpled page.
Speaking of Resolution
The ScanSnap has a resolution of up to 600 dpi in color or greyscale and up to 1200 dpi in black and white, although you can choose lower resolutions to save file space. it saves files in either PDF or JPG format. It folds compactly and discreetly and has a energy saving mode that means you can keep it on and at the ready, turning on only when needed. Its ScanSnap Manager program runs in the background until needed. The scanner is so compact, it takes up far less room on my desk than the piles of paper it helped eliminate.
The ScanSnap connects to your Mac via an included USB cable and by default scans documents directly onto your Mac, into whatever location you choose in the bundled application.
The iX500 also supports wireless scanning to your iPhone or iPad. It creates its own wireless connection directly with your mobile device, bypassing the Mac and your home network completely. Like the scanner itself, the mobile scanning feature works flawlessly, sending crisp scans to my iPad that looked more like electronic documents than scanned images.
Scan it Your Way
Fujitsu’s bundled software provides a slew of different options. In addition to scanning documents to your Mac via USB, you can scan to cloud services like Dropbox, Evernote, Google Docs, etc. (ScanSnap uses your Mac as the conduit for this, copying files to the appropriate location on your hard drive; it doesn't send the files directly to those services.) You can send scans to your printer, too (again, via your Mac rather than a direct connection to the printer) essentially turning the ScanSnap into a high quality copy machine.
If you prefer, you can have your scans open immediately in applications like Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word. The program will also scan and prepare documents and attach them to an email for you.
You can even scan into competitors’ software, so if you prefer Neat, for instance, the ScanSnap won’t take offense. Choosing between all these options is made easy via a contextual menu that appears when you click the application’s icon in the Dock. The included software can also convert your scans into searchable PDFs using its built-in optical character recognition capability.
That ability is nice to have, because even with all these features, it’s on the software side that the ScanSnap falls just a little short. Rather than using OS X’s native open and save dialogue windows, ScanSnap Manager uses its own, rather clunky interface that makes naming files and navigating to folders a little cumbersome.
But I Can Quit Anytime I Want
Still, the quibbles with its software seem minor when compared to the rock star performance of the iX500 itself. I found the act of scanning and shredding my small mountain of accumulated paperwork to be absolutely addicting, and once I got into a rhythm, I was turning years of useless paper into searchable, organized information. Having that kind of electronic access to statements and receipts allowed me to look at trends, spot inconsistencies and gain a much better handle on my data.
Like dieting, the hardest part about getting organized with the ScanSnap was getting started. It’s been easy (and fun) to keep up with the paper that’s come in since.
At about US$450, the ScanSnap iX500 isn’t cheap, but if you’re tired of drowning in a sea of paper that you can’t use but are afraid to toss out, it’s well worth the price.
The Bottom Line
With its amazingly fast and dependable hardware, Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX500 has made getting organized a resolution that I’m sure I’ll be able to keep long after my New Year’s decorations have been put away.
If only my other resolution were so easy to keep.