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Technology Untangled: Fujitsu document scanner is ideal small law office tool

June 14, 2017

technology-bourThe first Fujitsu document scanner that I installed in our office arrived probably 10 years ago. That unit, a ScanSnap fi-5110EOX2, is still on the job today. It has scanned hundreds of thousands of exhibit pages and has required zero maintenance, short of wiping off the rollers occasionally. It has been one of the best office technology investments I ever made. I only wish everything else worked as well.

We have the benefit of several copier/printer/scanner units available throughout the office, but this one seems to be the most preferred by all, so I didn’t need to over-research when adding another small stand-alone scanner. Another ScanSnap was the only choice. Today’s column will review that new scanner and discuss the process of deploying it in a stand-alone scanning station in the office.

I searched Amazon for Fujitsu scanners and was pleased to see that the ScanSnap iX500 is the Amazon Number One Best Seller in computer scanners. It is a sheet-fed color duplex scanner with a host of automatic processing features. Many other people also have a very high opinion of this scanner. It earns 4.7 out of 5 in customer reviews. It also is one of the most expensive in Amazon’s top 10 scanners, but at under $500, it is still a bargain.

This brings me to some comments about Amazon. I am finding, as are millions of others, that Amazon is hard to beat as the place to shop for just about anything. Low price, wide availability and quick delivery were the outstanding points for my scanner purchase. I like to buy products off the shelf locally, but in this case, Office Depot could not compete. A specialty item like the ScanSnap is not an off-the-shelf item. Ordering through Office Depot was going to cost at least $50 more and delivery would take more than a week. My Amazon order was only $450 delivered, and the scanner arrived in just two days.

To improve the physical workflow in my office, I decided to set up this new scanner with a new dedicated computer and configure it as a stand-alone scanning workstation. For this part of the project, I did order from Office Depot. I was pleased to choose from a wide selection of very low-cost factory refurbished desktop computers. The delivery was slow, but the price was rock-bottom low, just $120 (without monitor). As a task-specific tool, I had no need for a unit with all the bells and whistles. I chose an HP Pro 6305 with Windows 10 Professional and an AMD A4 processor all housed in a very compact desktop case. While I often take a chance on refurbished items for small ticket items like this, I must report that this purchase came with a problem. The DVD-RW drive was defective; however, with one phone call, a warranty replacement drive was quickly on the FedEx truck.

Configuring the new scanner with the computer was straightforward, except for one pet peeve. It took a long time to initialize because of the immediate search for and downloading of software updates for the scanner and computer. It seems that no technology product can simply be turned on and immediately used anymore. There is always some software patch or improvement that has to be installed as soon as you power up a new device.

The ScanSnap iX500 is now working great. It has some nice improvements over my old unit. I immediately noticed a faster throughput scanning speed. This is due to the built-in microprocessor that provides for intelligent image enhancement and processing as well as the fast USB 3.0 connectivity. This scanner can also automatically create searchable PDF scans as they are saved. This has been a great time-saver, as previously our exhibits had to be OCR’d in post-production with Adobe Acrobat. The paper handling has been superb. The ultrasonic sensor quickly recognizes (rare) double page feeds and pauses the process. While I was scanning, it even identified one sheet that had a Post-It note attached and notified me.

For even greater utility, the iX500 offers Wi-Fi connectivity to a computer as well as the ability to scan a PDF or JPEG file directly to a smartphone or a tablet. I am hopeful that the wireless connectivity will even further improve our efficiency on hectic days.

Are there any negatives? The only complaint I found in reviews about the scanner was that it is not TWAIN compatible. TWAIN is a scanner communication protocol often used in medical offices. If you know what TWAIN means, then this might not be the scanner for you. Otherwise, I think the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 is the near-perfect small law office scanner.•

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Stephen Bour (bourtech@iquest.net) is an engineer and legal technology consultant in Indianapolis. His company, the Alliance for Litigation Support Inc., includes Bour Technical Services and Alliance Court Reporting. Areas of service include legal videography, tape analysis, document scanning to CD and courtroom presentation support. The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author.

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