Fujitsu ScanSnap ix100: Portable Scanning In A Backpack - InformationWeek
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5/26/2015
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Fujitsu ScanSnap ix100: Portable Scanning In A Backpack

Fujitsu's ScanSnap ix100 brings the "paperless office" one step closer to mobile professionals. Here's InformationWeek's review.
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A Scanner in your backpack.
(Image: Curtis Franklin, Jr., for InformationWeek)

A Scanner in your backpack.

(Image: Curtis Franklin, Jr., for InformationWeek)

The paperless office has been on the horizon since I began my professional life. It has remained stubbornly on the edge of the business world, causing despair and mutiny among workers longing for relief from landfills of forms, as documented in tons upon tons ... of paper.

I bring this up because I spend a lot of time traveling for business. I've been a "remote worker" for more than 20 years and a "digital Bedouin" for most of that time. I've noticed that paper is one factor that makes life complicated for traveling professionals and the IT departments that support them. Lately I've been using a tool that promises to make paper rather less painful for me -- and far less frustrating for the IT, HR, and accounting colleagues who keep my company's back offices humming along while I'm wandering the earth.

Fujitsu's ScanSnap line of scanners is billed as "document scanners for your digital life." The devices range from a large scanner designed to handle open books and extra-large documents to portable scanners that easily fit into a briefcase or backpack. I've been working with the ScanSnap ix100 "Smart Scanner," and I'm finding that it's a tool that has more than earned its small spot in my backpack.

Let's get the basics out of the way.

The ScanSnap ix100 is a roughly 14-ounce device that occupies approximately 11 x 1.8 x 1.4 inches in your luggage. It has built-in WiFi and USB 2.0 for connecting to devices, and it's powered either by a USB connection or the built-in lithium ion battery. The list price of the ix100 is $229, though you can find it for a bit under $200 on Amazon.

Now, what does that buy you? In the ix100 you'll get a fast (roughly four seconds per 8.5" x 11" page), accurate, scanner that can take documents directly to either your laptop (Windows or Mac) or mobile device (iOS or Android). That much is nice, but not unique.

The ix100 really starts to earn its keep with the application integration it brings to the party.

Follow me through a few pages that show what I've experienced with the ix100. While we're going through a few scans I'll talk about how it works and where I think this little scanner could make a big difference to mobile professionals and their IT organizations.

[Did you miss any of the InformationWeek Conference in Las Vegas last month? Don't worry: We have you covered. Check out what our speakers had to say and see tweets from the show. Let's keep the conversation going.]

Curtis Franklin Jr. is Senior Editor at Dark Reading. In this role he focuses on product and technology coverage for the publication. In addition he works on audio and video programming for Dark Reading and contributes to activities at Interop ITX, Black Hat, INsecurity, and ... View Full Bio

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Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
6/4/2015 | 2:05:01 PM
Re: Is this the Scan Tipping Point?
@mak63, I was a bit flip in my answer. It would be more accurate to say that, if you're an occasional receipt scanner, then an app on your smartphone should be fine. If scanning is a regular part of your job, then a scanner like the iX100 will be a much better tool.
mak63
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mak63,
User Rank: Ninja
5/31/2015 | 5:57:21 PM
Re: Is this the Scan Tipping Point?
@Curt Franklin

"If you need to scan one receipt a month, then you already have the best tool: A smart phone with scanner software will work perfectly"

The scanner looks pretty neat. I don't have any use for the ScanSnap tho, but I'm sure, a smartphone with a scanner app can do more than to scan one receipt a month.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
5/27/2015 | 1:05:19 PM
Re: Fujitsu ScanSnap ix100: Portable Scanning In A Backpack
@zerox203, the price is a bit steeper than the competition: The ScanSnap is close to $200 on sites like Amazon while other products in the category tend to come in around $150. (Fujitsu makes a scanner that comes with less software and no WiFi that falls into that price range). I found the combination of WiFi and software worth the additional money but that's going to be a case-by-case call for most individuals and IT departments.

As far as those use cases, I see tremendous application in markets like field service, insurance, law, and on-site healthcare: tasks that involve paper forms and signatures that need to be collected and transferred to a central electronic repository.

Since I live in a college town, I can also imagine a lot of field researchers using something like this: At the end of a day in the field, scan the notes and get them into a cloud. That way, if something happens to the physical notes you've still got the information. I've seen PhD students and post-docs brought to utter dispair when something happened to physical notebooks for which there was no backup. A scanner like this could be the difference between inconvenience and disaster.
zerox203
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zerox203,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2015 | 4:35:06 PM
Re: Fujitsu ScanSnap ix100: Portable Scanning In A Backpack
The specs and list of features here are nothing to sneeze at. I've never used a handheld scanner - in fact, I've only use desktop ones very sparingly - but two seconds seems awfully fast... and I don't have to take your word for the accuracy, Curt, since you've provided pictures. They look perfect. Accolades are definitely in order for Fujitsu on this front. All the app integration, the handling of images and columns and the small size, all sell the idea of this thing really expediting your workflow. After all, if it doesn't 'just work', and fast, that completely eliminates the usefulness of it being portable. If non-techy users could get through without seeing an error message, that's the greatest selling point they could ask for.

Nevertheless, the price is a little steep, and I am left wondering who exactly the target audience is here and how big a market Fujitsu intends to reach. You said you've found extra uses for it since having it but I wonder how many would appreciate that before having one in their hands. As regards the extreme high performance (2-4 second scanning times), it does make the price more swallowable, but is it really necessary? I picture most on-the-go employees scanning handfuls of documents every day or so, not dozens. It's worth noting that Fujitsu is a Japanese company - I've heard that in asian business culture, paper documents (often via fax machines!) are still very common. Maybe there's a larger asian demographic they're intending to reach. On that note, maybe the ix100 makes more sense as a business requisition, and not a personal purchase. It's definitely cool either way.
Curt Franklin
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Curt Franklin,
User Rank: Strategist
5/26/2015 | 11:04:39 AM
Re: Is this the Scan Tipping Point?
@jastroff, I think that we've hit the point at which there's no excuse for someone who could benefit from a scanner to work without one. It all depends on how much you need to scan.

If you need to scan one receipt a month, then you already have the best tool: A smart phone with scanner software will work perfectly. If your job requires a lot of scanning, though, then we've got a number of choices available -- I just like the combination of size, functionality, and software that Fujitsu presents in the ScanSnap.

I have to say that the ScanSnap made all the traveling I've been doing this year much more productive -- and I'm now finding new ways to use it. For example, I like making notes on 3 x 5 index cards. With the ScanSnap, I can scan images of those into Evernote at the end of the day and capture the information while getting the cards out of my pocket. It's a win-win.

Put it all together and I think that a lot of IT departments should be looking into portable scanners like this for both executives and field professionals. The error rate on remote transactions would go down dramatically and companies would be able to capture much, much more of the information they say they need.
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
5/26/2015 | 10:55:19 AM
Is this the Scan Tipping Point?
@curtis -- You've made some great points (as usual) for the utility of the ScanSnap for the mobile workforce, in support of the Large Enterprise, as well as SMB and personal workflow.

Do you think this is the time that portable scanners make it into the toolkit of the workforce? Including eveyrthing from sales, to repair to executive roles? Is this when it becomes more than a "nice to have" device?
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