For the last several years I've been using a Fujitsu S1500 ScanSnap scanner to digitaly store all my paper documents. As I've said before, the ScanSnap truly was a life changer for me. I had no idea that a sheetfed scanner could be so convenient, fast, and reliable. It accepts up to 50 sheets of paper, scans both sides, performs optical character recognition on the text, and uploads the records to Evernote (or other cloud service such as SugarSync, Google Docs, or Dropbox). It automatically detects if the document is in color, and determines the page size and orientation. It discards blank pages. It also has an ultrasonic sensor that can detect and warn you if more than one sheet goes through the scanner at the same time.
At CES this year Fujitsu announced its newest model, the ScanSnap iX500. Fujitsu sent me an evaluation unit, and I'm impressed with the improvements on a product I already loved. The iX500 represents the sixth generation of the ScanSnap line and it's as close to being a perfect scanner as I can imagine.
The first improvement is speed. I was perfectly happy with the S1500's 20 double-sided pages per minute (PPM) rate. AT 25 PPM the iX500 is 25% faster, but the most notable difference is the vastly reduced latency between the new model and the earlier one. When you press the scan button the paper almost immediately goes through the scanner. The previous model had a slight delay between each sheet of paper, but this one has no discernible delay. The pages whip through without pause.
One of the major enhancements to the iX500 is its much-touted wireless conductivity. You can now scan a document by installing an app on your iOS or Android device and touching the scan icon on the device's display. The ScanSnap will convert the document to a PDF or JPEG that goes directly to your iOS or Android mobile device, even if your computer is turned off. I can't say that I will use this feature frequently, but it may come in handy if I need to scan something and run out the door with it on my mobile device.
The iX500 also has a new feeding and paper separation system that was originally developed for Fujitsu's high-end industrial scanners. It has two gripper wheels instead of one, and from my experience so far, papers seem to go through more smoothly, and I have not yet encountered a paper jam.
At $420, the iX500 doesn't come cheap. But when I think of how much time I've saved by not having to file and look for paper documents, it's a great deal.
Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of Boing Boing and the editor-in-chief of MAKE and Cool Tools. Twitter: @frauenfelder. His new book is Maker Dad: Lunch Box Guitars, Antigravity Jars, and 22 Other Incredibly Cool Father-Daughter DIY Projects