Not every scanner is equal if you’re thinking about going paperless. You need a model that will handle all the documents, receipts and oddly-shaped papers you need to digitise, and preferably one with great software support to help you keep all that stuff organised. Here’s a look at five of the best, based on your nominations.
Title photo by yoppy.
The ScanSnap S1500 is technically no longer available, having been replaced by the newer ScanSnap iX500, but those of you who own them and nominated them noted that both models are exceptional at quickly scanning documents of different sizes and shapes, and also converting some text documents into searchable PDFs. While the S1500 was Windows only, the iX500 extends support to Mac users who want to organise their lives too. The S1500 sported 20ppm scanning, while the iX500 brought that up to 25. Both models have a document feeder that makes scanning multi-page documents as easy as loading the tray — no feeding each page one after the other. The iX500 also supports scanning to iOS and Android devices, and can make PDFs with one button press.
The Doxie Go is a great scanner — so much so that our own Adam Dachis used it to go paperless in two days. It’s a tiny thing, portable enough to fit into a bag and go with you almost anywhere, is powered via USB, and is great for scanning everything from photographs to multi-page documents to tiny receipts on thermal paper. Best of all, the Doxie comes with software that makes the most of its features and helps you organise the documents you scan with it. If you scan text, the companion app performs OCR so you can search the text in those documents. If you prefer to use another platform like Dropbox or Evernote to organise your files, it syncs with those services as well. Even if you don’t use another web service for your documents, the Doxie’s software can sync with all of your (iOS) mobile devices and computers on its own.
If you’re looking for a more affordable ScanSnap document scanner than the above-mentioned iX500, the S1300i brings a smaller, space-saving form factor to your desk without sacrificing much of the power that makes the ScanSnap line a great choice for digitising documents. It does away with the large body in exchange for a smaller, more streamlined model like the Doxie Go or the NeatReceipts, but still includes a fold-out document tray for multiple pages and papers of odd sizes. You can keep the tray closed and feed photos or other documents yourself, and the fact that it’s tiny and USB-powered makes it portable enough to take with you if you travel. It even supports multi-sided documents, and it comes with the ScanSnap software for Windows and Mac OS X to make getting your documents in a format you can use easy. The ScanSnap software can also sync with and scan to other web services, including Evernote, Dropbox and Google Drive.
The Neat Scanner is a capable document scanner, and those of you who nominated it praised it for being speedy, portable, and able to handle documents of all sizes easily, from business cards to full-sized sheets of paper. The Neat comes in two varieties, the NeatDesk (shown here) and the NeatReceipts, a smaller, USB-powered version similar in size and shape to the Doxie Go. Both models include supporting software to make scanning and organising your documents easy, and that also sync with the Neat mobile app for iOS and Android. Neat’s angle is to get you hooked with the device, and then sell you additional options, such as its Neat Cloud service, which is essentially a Dropbox clone with a monthly fee, or its NeatVerify service that puts a human eye on every document you scan to make sure it’s been processed correctly. On its own though, the Neat scanner and software package make a powerful enough combination to keep your paper clutter to a minimum.
Your Smartphone’s Camera
Several of you said that your smartphone’s camera and an accompanying organisational app worked just fine. It’s free, not including the cost of an app you may use, and it only requires the equipment you already own. This is true, but this is a textbook case of getting what you pay for: it may be free and easy, but it’s slow, especially compared to the other contenders in the top five. Scanning large, multi-page documents will undoubtedly be an agonising process with a smartphone’s camera. If you want the document you photograph to be legible and useful, or even searchable once you save it and organise it, good luck. Still, enough of you nominated it that it’s worth mentioning as an option. Photo by Mauricio Lima.
No honourable mentions this week, since most of the nominees were variants on the above. Still, we’re willing to bet that there are other models not represented that some of you prefer. Don’t just complain that we “missed” them, let us know what your preferences are and why in the discussions below!