GPSolo Magazine - December 2005
Fujitsu ScanSnap Color Image Scanner
Every law office needs a good, reliable scanner. I’ve looked at a lot of scanners in my day, each with its own pros and cons. I have, however, finally found a good scanner at a reasonable price. The new Fujitsu fi-5110E0X2 ScanSnap Color Image Scanner (www.fujitsu.com/us) is both reliable and easy to use. This small but powerful machine gives you the ability to share and access paper documents with an easy one-button scan to PDF (Portable Document Format), while it reduces your copying and faxing costs.
The ScanSnap is a duplex scanner. That means it will scan both sides of a two-sided document in a single pass through the machine, doing it in black-and-white at a speed of 15 pages per minute (slower in color). Additionally, the ScanSnap has another extremely useful feature—it can eliminate the blank pages when you scan both one-sided and two-sided documents at the same time.
Now don’t get me wrong; this small machine may not be right for every office. It is ideal for the solo or small firm practitioner who needs to scan 250 pages or less per day (Fujitsu rates the ScanSnap at 250 pages per day). If you are doing very large volumes of scanning, you should consider a faster, heavy-duty machine.
The unit leaves a very small footprint on any desk or credenza. I have mine neatly tucked away out of sight, and you can hardly tell that it’s there at all. It is literally about the size of a football.
The ScanSnap uses a high-speed USB 2 interface and automatically straightens and aligns text and images into their correct orientation and also automatically detects the following paper sizes: A4, B5, A5, B6, A6, business card, legal, and letter. For added versatility, users can now scan documents up to A3-sized with the included carrier sheet. What’s more, the way it reads business cards is nothing short of fabulous—at last you can organize that pile of cards and get them off your desk or out of your drawer.
The unit comes bundled with powerhouse software. You get Adobe’s new Acrobat 7.0 Standard software, along with ScanSnap Manager and CardMinder V2.0. Acrobat 7.0 displays scanned PDF files as thumbnails with its new “Organizer” feature. ScanSnap users can view any image in a particular file without opening it up. Furthermore, PDF files can be assembled into a single PDF document from multiple sources.
Now here’s the best news: The ScanSnap lists for $499. You can find it for less online. If you add up the value of all the software that you get bundled with the unit (sold separately, Adobe Acrobat 7.0 alone is priced around $300 for a new purchase or $99 for an upgrade), it’s like getting the scanner thrown in for free.
The ScanSnap does have certain drawbacks, which some of you may consider significant. It is not Twain or ISIS compliant (Twain and ISIS are two forms of drivers used by many scanners and by many software programs designed to interface with scanners). You must, therefore use the ScanSnap Manager software that comes with the unit or purchase a third-party driver/manager. A second limitation is that the ScanSnap can only scan into PDF files. Although PDF has become almost universal, some of you may need to scan to another format for a particular reason. If you do, or if limiting your ability to scan to PDF files concerns you, you should think about getting a different scanner. Even if you do choose a different scanner for work, the ScanSnap would prove a welcome addition in many home offices for business and/or personal use. As for me, I welcome the opportunity to do all my scanning to PDF, as this is now the standard for e-filing in the federal court system. I envision the day when PDF will become the standard of the state courts as well.
The ScanSnap was originally released on the Windows platform only. Some enterprising Mac users found ways to make it work on the Mac OS X platform, but now Fujitsu itself has released a Mac OS X version of the ScanSnap. Fujitsu does not support the use of the Windows unit on the Mac platform, or, presumably, the Mac unit on the Windows platform. Bottom line: If you use Windows, get a Windows ScanSnap; if you use the Mac OS X, get a Mac ScanSnap.
In conclusion, for any small practice or solo office that finds the need to get great scanning at an affordable price, with bundled software that is great in and of itself, I highly recommend giving the Fujitsu ScanSnap Color Image Scanner a test run. I can’t say enough about this product when it comes to size, durability, ease of use, and small profile. In fact, you can get a carrying case for it, and as lightweight as the unit is, you can carry it from office to home and back with ease. I think you will find it a productive addition to your law practice.
Alan Pearlman is a practicing attorney in Chicago and the surrounding suburbs. He is the author of the nationally syndicated column The Electronic Lawyer and a frequent speaker at national legal technology seminars. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or on the web at www.theelectroniclawyer.com.