Scanning for Digital Documents

Office space is at a premium in just about any small business, and it’s getting harder to justify the file cabinet space when a decent scanner can digitize all those documents for you. Extra floor space isn’t the only benefit, either. You’ll be better able to track and organize documents, maintain audit trails and other compliance mandates, and save money on your fax bills.

Fujitsu today announced a scanner it believes can help small businesses get a handle on document management — the ScanSnap S500. The newest of Fujitu’s ScanSnap scanners, the S500 is about the size of a shoe box, includes a 50-document feeder and scans at up to 18 pages per minute — a 20 percent performance improvement over previous models, according to the company.

Scott Francis, Fujitsu’s director of product marketing, points out several S500 features that he says makes scanning a simple, sensible option for small businesses. “The scanner has a dual-camera system with a camera situated in the front and in the back of the unit,’ he said. “That means you can scan a double-sided document in a single pass.” Fujitsu says the S500 is the only high-speed, double-sided scanner that sells for less than $500.

Designed to speed the scanning process, the S500 can accept a batch of documents and automatically discern differences in the individual pages. “The scanner analyzes each document in a batch and treats them differently,” said Francis. “For example, you can have any combination of color, black-and-white, double-sided, letter-size, legal size and upside down documents, and the S500 can detect the differences and adjust the scan settings and page orientation automatically.”

The scanner also lets you create 10 profiles that combine both target applications and scanner settings. Francis said this lets you scan to various applications at the appropriate settings by pressing one button. “You can set up the profiles to scan documents to the applications your use most, such as scan to e-mail, scan to hard drive, scan to Adobe — without having to configure the settings every time you scan.”

Why Scan Documents?
Converting paper documents to digital form has several advantages. “Scanning to e-mail is the most popular application,” said Francis. “Small businesses can save a lot of money on their long distance fax bill by scanning a document to e-mail instead of faxing it.” He added that business travelers can quickly digitize documents to view on their laptops while on the road. According to Fujitsu, other reasons to scan documents include:

  • Better image quality — faxing degrades image quality
  • Color scanning
  • Eliminate long distance fax (phone) charges
  • Better audit trail
  • Replacement for overnight shipping
  • Electronic filing
  • Forms processing
  • Digitize business cards
  • Reduce paper storage

While scanners have been around for years, Francis says that small businesses haven’t taken to digitizing documents in large number due mainly to the cumbersome nature of flatbed scanners. “It’s been hard for them because scanners have been bulky and overly complicated,” he said. “But the ScanSnap S500 eliminates the complexity, and its compact size makes it easy to work with.”

Fujitsu ScanSnap S500

The company says lots of businesses and departments can benefit from digitizing documents, including administration, accounting, records management, human resources, sales and marketing, communications, operations, legal or customer service.

On the Soft Side
The S500 ships with ABBYY FineReader for ScanSnap that performs OCR duty and turns documents into files you can edit. FineReader lets you convert documents into PDF files — three types, actually: you can open a PDF file and convert it into editable formats such as Word or Excel; you can open a PDF file and make changes to the text and re-save as a PDF or; you can turn paper documents into searchable PDF files.

Other software includes: ScanSnap Organizer, CardMinder, ScanSnap Manager and Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Standard.

The Fujitsu ScanSnap S500 sells for $495. You can buy it on Fujitsu’s Web site and through authorized resellers including CDW, CDWG, Dell, Insight Merrimack/PC Connection, PCMall, PCNation and Tiger Direct.

Lauren Simonds is the managing editor of

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