Hands On WIth The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i

The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i is not a new product. It's been around for a while and I've been using one on my desk for the last couple of years. It is an essential part of my office workflow and has reduced the amount of paper I need to retain to almost (but not quite) zero. Here's what I've learned along the way and why I recommend the ScanSnap S1300i.

Previous attempts at going paperless

The paperless office is IT's unicorn - a mythical creature that can only be imagined. But, dammit, I want a unicorn.

When I first looked at scanning solutions for my home office, I started by being a tight-arse and looking at multi-function devices. That's fine for the odd scanning or copying job but a colossal pain in the butt when it comes to multi-page, duplexed documents.

After giving up on a cheap printer/scanner/copier, I tried a higher-end device with a sheet feeder. While it was better, it was still a hassle as a device like that is too big to have near my workspace.

Around that time, my life took a serious turn and I found myself living in a smaller rental place, having to give up the luxurious workspace I'd created a few years before. That meant workspace and storage space became a far scarcer commodity.

Eventually, after a recommendation from a friend, I bit the bullet and opened my wallet, buying the ScanSnap S1300i from a local retailer. I was so pissed at the solutions i had tried that I didn't even shop around so I'm pretty sure I paid top dollar for it.

But I don't regret it.

Speeds and feeds

The beauty of the S1300i is its simplicity. Its footprint in tiny - just 284mm x 99mm x 77mm. I have it sitting on my desk, connected to an AC power outlet and to my Mac mini via USB 2. When I want to use it, I simply lift the lid, adjust the paper guides to the width I need, feed up to 10 sheets at a time, and press the blue button on the right side.

It also supports being used without an AC adaptor by using a second USB port but that halves the scanning speed.

In a single pass, it can capture both sides of each page, directing them to a folder on my computer, an email, Google Docs or Evernote. I don't use it for scanning photos - my experience is that it's not great for photos but that's not its intended purpose.

It handles anything from a small receipt, just a few centimetres long, through to A4 sized documents automatically. If a page doesn't go through perfectly straight, the ScanSnap software corrects, on the fly, before it reaches its intended destination.

How I use it

While, from time to time, I scan documents to be sent by email or saved to a folder, the vast majority of what I scan is directed straight to Evernote.

I use Evernote as one of my main data repositories. Everything is scanned as a searchable PDF which makes finding stuff really easy.

The biggest challenge I had with paper-based systems was the time taken to retrieve something. For example, if I needed to track down a receipt, I needed to sift through a pile of small papers. With the ScanSnap/Evernote connection, I can simply search for a word on the receipt like the product name or store I purchased it from. If I'm looking for a transaction on a statement, I just need a date or something else that's searchable.

The only manual step I add is to move documents into specific notebooks within Evernote. For example, I have "Credit Card Statements" and "Receipts" notebooks. Otherwise, I just scan the documents, check that the scan is OK (not because of any unreliability but because I'm cautious), and then shred the documents.

Minor quibbles

The ScanSnap S1300i is not perfect. The 10-sheet limitation on the feeder is a pain sometimes. For example, I've had to scan a couple of longer, legal documents recently and those can run well over ten pages. But, if I divide the document into ten-page blocks, I can add the next ten pages after the previous one scans its last page.

I've also found Fujitsu can be a little slow updating their software. When macOS Sierra was released last year, it took a few weeks before they released an update that fixed a bug that resulted in the loss of scanned documents, even if they were scanned before the software update.

But so far, using the public betas of macOS High Sierra, I've not encountered any such issues.

And USB 3 would be nice. But when the ScanSnap S1300i was released that wasn't an option. If I was looking for an update, then that would be a must-have feature.

Pricing

The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i has a street price of around $340. Whether that represents good value will depend on how much paper comes into your office. I am using it less now that many banks, utilities and other organisations are moving to paperless invoices and receipts, but I still end up with a bunch of paper on my desk each week.

Add to that the cost of my annual Evernote Premium account, which gives me 10GB of uploads per month that I can access from an unlimited number of devices and you can mimic the solution that works for me. However, you can just stash all the scanned documents on a hard drive if you prefer.

The amount of space I save on storing documents and the faster filing time makes the ScanSnap S1300i a good investment in my view.


Comments

    I bought the ScanSnap S300M in 2008 and still have it, and love it. It's a pity that they're apparently immune to Moore's Law as far as costs are concerned; I paid $370 for it back then.
    That being said, it doesn't get nearly as much use as it used to; all my bills are electronic, now, and a lot of the time, the OfficeLens app is sufficient for scanning receipts, etc. - it does a surprisingly good job, and as the old saying goes, "The best scanner is the one you have with you". The ScanSnap is definitely better if you have a large number of pages to scan, or you want especially good-quality scans, but otherwise you can manage pretty well these days with just a smartphone.

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