Review: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 Mobile Scanner

ScanSnap S1100 is the Fujitsuís smallest member of the ScanSnap family (February 16th, 2011)

When you want to carry a scanner with you, try the ScanSnap S1100, which fits into any bag easily. With a tiny footprint, this device delivers scans that rival other desktop documents scanners.

Electronista Rating:

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Product Manufacturer: Fujitsu Computer Products of America

Price: $199 US

The Good

  • Compact.
  • Design protects against dust.
  • Design provides easy cleaning of critical components.
  • One-button operation yields high quality results.
  • Automatically ignores blank pages.
  • Auto-corrects for pages fed in upside down (bottom first).
  • Fast scan time.
  • Above average OCR software.
  • No external power adapter required.

The Bad

  • OCR scanning quality may be inconsistent.
  • Feeding documents while sitting challenging.
  • Photographs may lose shadow detail.

As promised in our Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300 Color Personal Scanner review, we now take a close look at the ScanSnap S1100 Mobile Scanner, Fujitsu's latest and smallest member of the ScanSnap scanner family. It targets mobile individuals who don't want to sacrifice scanned image quality while out of the office. As with other members of this scanner family, it offers intelligent scanning, including blank page elimination, auto-rotating of pages fed in bottom first, and auto straightening of poorly fed documents. This tiny device weighs only 12.3 ounces and measures 10.74 x 1.87 x 1.33 in. It fits in any suitcase or laptop briefcase easily.

s1100-open
Open and Closed ScanSnap S1100

Scanned documents can be as small as 1-inch wide as long as 34 inches, and as thick as a credit card. It natively scans documents as PDFs in optical resolution as high as 600 DPI. It can convert the scanned file to searchable PDF or JPEG files, export them into Microsoft Excel, Word, Address Book or Entourage. For those who are always on the go and need access to their documents from anywhere at any time, you can upload your scans to "the cloud" as Evernote or Google Docs files.

In The Box

The box contains the ScanSnap S1100 scanner, a USB to mini-USB cable, a CD with drivers, manual and software for both Mac and PC. Mac software includes ScanSnap Manager, ABBYY FineReader, and Cardiris, just like the larger ScanSnap Color S1300. Also included are hard copies of the Getting Started Manual, Safety Precautions Guide, and Quick Installation Guide. Since the ScanSnap S1100 obtains its power via the USB port, you do not need a power adapter, but make sure you use a full-powered USB port, because some older laptops have underpowered USB ports, including most Mac keyboards.

Installation

Installation is easy. First, install the drivers, scanning, and scan processing software. Second, connect the provided USB to USB mini cable to a powered USB port of your computer. To start, pop open the Feed Guide and the ScanSnap S1100 powers up; ready to feed your documents.

When you feed a document into the scanner, the ScanSnap S1100 pulls the document into the scanning mechanism. Press the start button and the scan begins. There are two ways the document feeds through the S1100. You can feed it straight through, or in tight spaces, a small diverter panel flips up and the document feeds out straight up, that is, perpendicular from how you insert it.

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Alternative Paper Flow Patterns


A dialog box opens up that describes the status of the scan as well as the scan preferences.

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ScanSnap S1100 Scan In Process


After you have scanned all the pages of the document, either press the lit LED "scan/stop" button on the scanner again or press "Finish Scanning" on the ScanSnap Manager menu window.

A Quick Menu pops up on the computer screen that presents several options. You can save the documents as multi-page, searchable PDF or convert it to a Microsoft Word or Excel document, export as an Evernote file, send as an email attachment, or send to a printer or Google Docs. If you scan a business card, you can send it to Cardiris, a card recognition application. If you scan a photograph, you can save it to a folder as a JPEG or send it to iPhoto. This scanner is not designed as a photo scanner though, so do not expect flawless results. If you want to protect your original, you can use a carrier sheet.

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ScanSnap S1100 Quick Menu

Scanning Rate

Fujitsu claims a scanning rate of just under 8 seconds for a 300dpi color scan. They measure the time from when the scanning starts until the end of the page exits the scanner. My test showed this to be accurate. However, to get a true sense of real world scanning speed, what should be measured is the time it takes to feed and scan a multipage document. Tests of a 3-page two-sided document took a total of 66 seconds, or an average of 11 seconds per page.

Once the document is scanned, it requires additional time to process and store the document either as a PDF or JPEG file. Saving as a PDF (the normal format of a scan) is almost instantaneous. When I exported the scan to Microsoft Office, it took 19 seconds to convert a single page document and 40 seconds for a 5-page document. Scanning an 8-1/2 x 11 inch color photograph, either as a 300 or 600 DPI image took just under 8 seconds. The conversion and saving as a JPEG file took an additional 11 seconds, totaling 19 seconds. The speeds are respectable for any scanner in the market today.

Document feeding goes more smoothly when the pages are put into the S1100 from a slight downward angle, rather than horizontally. While sitting in an office chair, I had to precisely position the document before it was pulled in by the scanner.

How It Stacks Up

Overall, the ScanSnap S1100 does an excellent job of scanning documents and photographs. Especially helpful is the scanner's ability to recognize different sized documents as it scan them. It also recognizes and ignores blank pages, plus autocorrects for pages that you feed in bottom first. It rotates them right side up to match other pages of the document. The OCR program scanned and converted a five-page document to a Microsoft Word file with only one error, aside from two notable exceptions. Exception #1: About 50% of the time, "Fujitsu" is interpreted as "FuJJtsu." Exception #2: Consistently, the scanner read "ScanSnap S1100" as either "ScanSnap SI100" or "ScanSnap SHOO."

s1100-scanning-errors

ScanSnap S1100 OCR Errors


The ScanSnap S1100 also exhibited inconsistency in how it handles background colors. In scanning a PowerPoint presentation with a gray border along the left margin, it failed to capture the border correctly about half the time.

s1100-grayframe-problem

Background Capture Inconsistencies


Rendition of shades and colors also presented a small challenge. The ScanSnap S1100's scan of a color test chart resulted in the grays having a slightly bluish tinge. Also, the dark blue was washed out.

s1100-color accuracy

Gray and Color Test


For photographs, shadows seemed a bit muted as compared to the original photograph. The image quality, very good but not perfect, was about the same for 300 or 600 DPI.

According to Fujitsu, this is the first portable scanner that you can open and clean. Paper and print are hard on the scanner mechanism, and most scanners need to be cleaned periodically. While you can open most desktop scanners for cleaning, that's not the case with the smaller portable scanners. Cleaning your scanner gives it a longer life span and keeps your output clean of stray marks.

Conclusion

The Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 is well suited for its primary role: Quality scanning and organizing records and documents for the highly mobile user. It is ultra-compact and very easy to use. The included software speeds things along by ignoring blank pages and turning right side up pages that are inserted from the bottom, with text away from the scanner.

It did exhibit some problems reading and correctly identifying text printed against a shaded or colored background. Scans of photographs were crisp with overall good reproduction, but shadow details were slightly obscured. For the price, this may be one of the best mobile scanners on the market today.

Edited by Ilene Hoffman, Reviews Editor

by Barry Michelson


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