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Fujitsu ScanSnap S300

>> Friday, January 9, 2009

What you get for the Fujitsu's extra size and weight is both duplex scanning, which is rare in a portable scanner, and a 10 page ADF, which is rarer still if not currently unique. You also get much faster scans than with most portable scanners. Even without taking the relatively fast scan speed into account, simply using an ADF boosts overall speed compared with feeding paper manually.

It tested the S300 under Windows XP, but Fujitsu says the software also works with Windows 2000, Vista, and Vista x64. In addition, there's a version for the Mac (also $295 direct), but you can't buy a single scanner with both Mac and Windows software. Setup is reasonably typical for a portable scanner. Install the software, and plug in the cables. It departs from the norm, however, in how it gets power.

A portable scanner should be easy to connect, since you have to reconnect it every time you take it somewhere and set it up again. The ideal is to use a single USB cable for both data and power, so all you need do is boot up your computer and connect one cable to be ready to scan. According to Fujitsu, however, the S300 needs more power than it can get over a single USB cable.

So although it uses power from the data cable, it has two different ways to get the additional power it requires. The preferred choice, because it will give you the fastest scans, is to connect to a wall socket. If there isn't one available, you can get the additional power from a second USB port by connecting a special cable that plugs into the S300's power connector.

One drawback to using the USB cable instead of plugging into a wall socket is that it makes scans take twice as long. Another is that some notebooks are stingy about ports. Although these days there are myriad laptops with multiple USB ports, some have only two if yours is one of those, you won't be able to connect anything else at the same time unless you also carry a USB hub with you.

More troublesome than the power connection issue is the fact that the S300 comes with very little software, just a scan utility and two programs. CardMinder is a reasonably capable business card program. ScanSnap Organizer is a document management program with some interesting features, including the ability to connect to Microsoft SharePoint. As a desktop document manager, however it's simply not in the same league as a top tier program like Nuance PaperPort.

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