Estimated reading time: 9 minutes, 33 seconds

REVIEW: Scan This / Scan That

Scanners everywhere are converting paper to digital data. It does not matter that what is often being scanned was a digital file and used to create the printed page(s). It would be amazing if you, dear reader, are not already using scanning as part of your workflow and operations. We all know that working with digital files is easier, more accurate and way more effective for what needs to be processed. Tax data, accounting records, audit work papers are scanned on an almost daily basis through the accounting industry.

The two basic questions to ask at this time:
1-- Are you currently using scanning effectively?
2-- Is there any reason to consider expansion, enhancements, or upgrades?

If the answer to #1 is yes and the answer to #2 is no, then you may not need to read any further. However, it is most likely that the above questions rarely have a definitive answer of yes or no. There are always options and changes in both your business and technology that requires evaluation and assessment at least an annual basis.

What scanning is being done now?
If scanning is already in place, evaluate whether the results are effective. Talk with the staff that is actually responsible for the scanning tasks. Determine if there are issues that lower the efficiency and effectiveness of the scanning process. These issues can include: scan errors, frequency of repair calls, too slow for work volume, and so on.

What is your need?
What process needs to be accomplished Decide what you want the scanner to accomplish. It may be necessary to invest in more than one type of scanner to achieve different missions.

What is your budget?
Price may or may not be an object of concern. Most scanners have a range of prices. If you scan infrequently than a scanner attached to an MFP printer may work. These provide both single page and multi-feed capabilities. The scanner price is included in the price of the printer. Ink cartridges are the expensive component of these devices

What are your friends using?
It is always helpful to discuss your needs with friends and professional associates. This can save a lot of research time. In addition, it is helpful to consider mutual assistance when things go wrong.

Scanners and Features:

Flatbed scanners have a similar functionality to copy machines. You place a single sheet, book or any odd-sized object such as medals, flowers or children's art work. A slide, film, & transparency accessory are typically an add-on feature of higher end flatbed scanners. As most cameras today are digital, this option is not typically needed. Automatic Document Feeder (ADF) enable scanners to process a quantity of single pages that will enable multipage scanning into a single file. This is very helpful when you are scanning reports or a client's file. Of course, you need to remember to remove staples and paper clips.

Card scanners are small scanners that are used to quickly scan business or ID cards. Most medical offices are using these scanners for patient id and insurance cards.

Mobile Scanners: Typically these scanners have a small footprint, around 10" x 2" x 2". They scan only one document at a time.

Resolution: Scanning output resolution is less critical than it used to be. Text is readable at 75 dpi (dots per inch) up to 300 dpi. When comparing scanners, review the optical resolution provided by the scanner rather than enhancements using software. Many scanners are available with dpi resolutions of 1,200, 2,400 or 3,600. This can be important when scanning film and photos for websites and newsletters.

Software: Scanning should allow file saving in a number of formats, including Word documents, PDF files and image files.

Mobile Devices: The universe of Smartphones and Tablets has apps for every device with a camera. The Apps can scan a whole page, part of a page, bar codes, and QR Codes.

Price: While every firm needs a good scanner, there are price differences to evaluate. Lower price, under $100, generally means a weaker roller assembly in the automatic document feeder, which in turn will mean weaker components prone to breakage. The higher-end is around the $400-$500 range and has been delivering a lot of value for many years.

Most Popular Scanners:NeatDesk

The two most popular lines of document scanners are from Neat and Fujitsu. Their top-of-the-line desktop machines are Neat's NeatDesk and Fujitsu's ScanSnap iX500. Both feature a usable list of scanning options. The newest features deal with wireless connectivity with iOS or Android app to scan directly to your mobile device.

These devices scan at up to 600 dpi resolution, duplex and in color, with speeds of up to 25 pages per minute. Both automatically adjust to different sized papers in a single stack.

The Neat Desk document scanner is simple to use and has features that include compatibility and connectivity with Microsoft Outlook, QuickBooks and Turbo Tax. The scanner also does well with optical character resolution.

NeatDesk with the NeatMobile iOS app can take a photo and wirelessly transmit through yournetwork. If the photo is of a text document, Neat's OCR software can analyze it. Going in the other direction, NeatMobile supports data transfer through its NeatCloud service. The service requires that you open an account and pay a minimum of $6 per month.

For its scanner family, Fujitsu updates its hardware on a regular basis. Almost everything new about the iX500 package is linked to hardware, including the built-in Wi-Fi capability. In contrast, the current NeatDesk scanner has changed very little over the past several years. What is new about the current package is primarily the upgraded Neat software, designed to work with the NeatCloud service.

The ScanSnap is faster, less prone to jams and produces superior scan quality. Neat's solution, one app to handle all scanning tasks is appreciated by users. ScanSnap's Wi-Fi feature is free. With NeatCloud, there is a monthly fee.

Other document scanners:

The HP Scanjet Professional is a fast and reliable scanner that can offer a variety of different scanning options. Hi-Speed USB, 20 ppm max scan speed B/W, 20 ppm max scan speed color, 600 dpi max H-optical resolution, 600 dpi max V-optical resolhp scanjetution, 48-bit color




PlusTekThe Plustek SmartOffice PS286 Plus workgroup class document scanner is designed with the image quality, paper handling and reliability required by business users at a price point attractive to home and SOHO users. The small size and footprint of the SmartOffice PS286 Plus make it appropriate for office, front desk or portable scanning tasks.




The WorkForce Pro GT-S80 features speeds up to 80 ipm and a duty cycle of up to 1800 sheets. This high-volume, sheet-workforce pro fed scanner makes it easy to capture all documents and offers value with fast speeds, a 75-page feeder and incredible versatility.




Portable Scanners

Fijitsu ScanSnap S1100 easy to use scanner with a small footprint that supports mobile use. It can produce PDF documents and fijitsu scansnap s1100allows scanning pages to either Office or GoogleDoc applications. Scanning both color and black and white images with the ScanSnap is simple. It handles both plain paper documents and photos well. The S1100 is small enough to be carried in a travel bag.




vupoint VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner (PDS ST415 WM) specializes in handheld scanners that you pull over documents to scan them. It can be used without any additional hardware, like a laptop. The PDS-ST415-VP is a great scanner for people who are always on the go. Weighing in at just 0.4lbs, it is incredibly light. It is one of the smallest portable scanners on the market.

Xerox Mobile Scanner can scan without a computer, send files to your Android or iOS device with WiFi and automatically upload them elsewhere as well.

Business Card Scanners:

The IRISCard Anywhere 5 enables on-the-go users to capture information from their business contacts when away from their computer. The business card is simply zipped through the cordless, battery-powered scanner, and the scanned image is then either saved in the built-in memory, on an SD card or on a standard USB key. No driver installation is needed.

The lightweight and portable Xerox Card Scanner 200 is a palm sized mobile A6 scanner which is packed with advanced scanning functions and needs no AC outlet. In addition to scanning business cards, it also scans all type of receipts, photos, checks and plastic embossed cards, such as membership cards in color, if required.

The Ambir PS667 ID card scanner is designed specifically to scan thick materials such as laminated ID cards and plastic cards with embossed characters. The PS667 is used by medical facilities and retailers to scan ID cards, driver`s licenses, checks, and other forms of identification.

Other Scanners to consider:

• Canon imageFormula P-215 Scan-tini Personal Document Scanner
• Epson Perfection V300 Photo
• Kodak i2600
• Visioneer Mobility
• VuPoint Solutions Magic Wand Wi-Fi PDSWF-ST44-VP
• Xerox DocuMate 3115

Mobile Apps:

Mobile Doc Scanner (MDScan) is a business tool exclusively for the Android. This mobile tool gives users the power to transform any file into PDF and share it right from the device. With MDScan users are free to scan any type of document, ranging from receipts to text pages to business agreements anywhere. MDScan allows scanning invoices to whiteboards and meeting notes, magazine articles and more into a PDF to export them, share and e-mail it to others, or for any other reason. MDScan automatically detects borders, corrects distortion, and equalizes brightness for legible documents that can be sent and used anywhere. The app supports all document conversion needed so you can upload documents to cloud storage services, including Dropbox, Google Docs, or Box.net, email services, or Facebook and Twitter.

DocScanner is the original scanner app for iPhone & iPad. Known for its matchless image quality, DocScanner creates PDF documents in a snap. This app comes with built-in OCR with 36 languages, AirPrint support, iCloud sync, and auto-upload to cloud storage services such as Evernote, Dropbox, and Google Drive.

Scanner Pro by Readdle, is a universal app for both iPhone and iPad that can sync documents from both devices through iCloud. The $2 Doc Scan Pro (along with its $4 iPad counterpart, Doc Scan Pro HD) and the $2 Genius Scan+ weren't far behind.
CamScanner app uses the mobile camera to take a picture of all kinds of paper documents: receipts, notes, invoices, whiteboard discussions, business cards, certificates, etc. Batch Scan Mode saves you even more time. The basic version is free supported by screen ads.

Information for practical accessories as you add scanners and other devices:

Accell PowerSquid Surge Protector and Power Conditioner
More electronics in your office or home office demands extra outlets. Some devices require just a 3-prong plug; other devices use a small or large power brick. The PowerSquid delivers a very practical solution with its unique short length cables so every type of plug can be connected. I have found this to be a better and more adaptable way to connect multiple devices than with any of the straight line power strips.

STM Bags
Mobile professionals need to discover practical ways to carry their portable scanners along with mobile devices, laptops and perhaps lunch. STM has a wide range of practical bags in multiple sizes. This image is the velo medium laptop shoulder bag. There are more pockets to have places for everything from power cords to water bottles.

In summary, there are lots of options to make use of more and more digital data. Scan and upload to websites, twitter, and lots other social media services. Whether you to choose to scan this or scan that, scanning is in your future.

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