If you need to scan documents when you're away from home or the office, conventional scanners are too bulky. There are plenty of portable devices around, but most can't do a decent job of scanning colour photos and many rely on generic scanning software. Neither of these drawbacks is true of the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100.
This is a portable scanner in the traditional sense which, when closed, is a mere 273 x 48 x 34mm. It's not battery-powered, but relies instead on a single USB connection to a PC or Mac, most probably a notebook, for both power and data. Pulling down the small flap at the front provides a ledge to feed paper or photos from and also turns the scanner on.
To the right of the feed path is an illuminated blue Scan/Stop button and in the scanner’s left end is a single USB socket. Scanned items can either be fed straight through onto the desktop or, by flipping up the scanner's top cover, can be directed vertically upwards.
This second paper path seems fairly pointless, as an A4 sheet still flops forward or backwards onto the desk, while a photo print has to make a sharp 90-degree turn and risks being given a curl.
With a portable scanner like this, its usefulness is directly related to the quality and ease-of-use of its controlling software. This is where this Fujitsu device excels. It comes with two main applications and two ancillary apps, all custom-written. When you feed in a sheet of paper, a photo or a business card and press the Scan button, the ScanSnap Manager pops up to control the scanning of one or more pages.
When you finish scanning, it shows options for the available destinations for the scanned documents. These include scanning to Word, Excel or PowerPoint, as well as attaching to an e-mail or depositing in a folder. The final two options are to scan to CardMinder and to the ScanSnap Organiser.
CardMinder is a business card database, which can combine the details from scans of the two sides of a business card and retain them as a single entry. The program uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to extract the contact details from the card and automatically file them in its database.
The ScanSnap Organiser enables you to housekeep your scanned pages and direct them to other applications, in a similar way to Nuance’s well-known PaperPort. The program uses Abbyy OCR, which is generally pretty good at correctly extracting text and maintaining its layout on the page.