Fujitsu ScanSnap S300M

It’s been a while since TechCast Reviews featured a scanner. I have to admit, they’re not the most exciting gadgets to test. But when I took a closer look at the ScanSnap S300M by Fujitsu, it piqued my interest, and before I knew it, I was spending an afternoon scanning random documents and business cards.

The S300M is a portable scanner that looks a bit like a mini-laminator or a compact printer and it weighs in at less than 1.5kg (with the power adapter). The paper-feed tray slides in and collapses on itself for easy transportation. Great if you want to create a paperless environment for when you’re on the road.

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In the box, you get two USB leads. This gives you the ability to power the scanner without the need for mains power – although one is provided. The included software with the S300M is Mac only although Fujitsu do sell a Windows equivalent.

There are a bunch of smart features that make the S300M the best-in-class. One of the most useful features I found was the ability for the scanner to recognise that you’ve fed the document in the wrong way round. The S300M automatically rotates these documents before saving them.

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Full duplex scanning allows you to feed a document through the scanner and have it scan both sides in one go. Great time saver for double sided documents and works great with business cards.

Speed is of the essence. The S300M is extremely quick at processing a full A4 document – even in colour. You can get speeds of up to 8 double sided pages or 16 images per minute. The paper feed can handle up to 10 sheets for automated scanning of bulk documents. There’s no requirement to feed the same size documents in each time – the S300M can detect paper sizes automatically and adjust them on the fly. This means you can just stick any combination of different sized documents or business cards in the paper tray and have them all scanned in one go. Scans can then be processed into one PDF file using the ScanSnap Manager software or as individual files.

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If you choose to use just USB to power the scanner, there is a slight drop in performance, but not noticeably so. Documents still pass through with a single-sided A4 page processed in about 12 seconds, about 4 seconds longer compared to powering it through the mains.

The bundled software is simple and easy to use. One feature that could be useful for those who have a large rolodex is the inclusion of CardIris. This application imports your business card scans and uses OCR to recognise information on the card such as name and telephone number and then allows you to export them directly to your Address Book, Entourage, AppleWorks or vCard format.

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The accuracy of the CardIris application does vary from business card to business card. Complex designs will more than likely confuse the application – but for the simple business cards where it’s mostly clean text, CardIris is able to recognise the information and enter them in the appropriate fields.

ScanSnap Manager is your main interface for the S300M. It pops up after you’ve scanned a document and allows you to save the scan or export to a number of applications such as iPhoto, Mail or application of your choice. You can use ScanSnap Manager to adjust a range of settings including the quality (normal to excellent) and compression ratios for adjusting the file sizes. By changing the quality and compression settings, you also change the speed that the scanner operates at. When you’re on the road and you want speed, you may want to set the quality to normal for its best scanning speed – but in the office or at home, you can take a bit more time scanning your old photos with the highest quality setting which take about a minute to complete.

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The Fujitsu ScanSnap S300M is what the paperless office needs. A fast, efficient scanner that can be used wherever the work takes you. There’s no compromise on quality or features despite its compact size. You get the same if not more features than what you normally get from a desktop-sized scanner – with the most useful being the 10-sheet feed and double-sided scanning. All this and its intelligent software combine to make the S300M the ultimate scanner in the TechCast Reviews office.

2009-08-07 Onwah Tsang

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