I have been on a little bit of a spending spree the last month or two. My office gear has gone from a MacBook and a 160GB external drive to 2 MacBooks, about 900GB of backup space, a 22″ external monitor and a ScanSnap scanner. I love my ScanSnap, it is opening my eyes to a whole new digital workflow in my work and home life.

I was pretty excited to see Nic had reviewed a ScanSnap in Nudjit although my excitement faded a little as I read more of the article. It seems Nic was reviewing a discontinued model ScanSnap and got a few small details wrong.

s510m_header.gifI have a ScanSnap S500M (“M” for Mac – there is a Windows version too) which is a nudge below the current model which is a S510M. The S500M is apparently the model you can get locally. The device itself is really small (literally shorter than an A4 page) and very portable once you get the power and USB cable stowed. It scans pages really fast, so fast that it seems like the pages are just feeding through the device. As it scans, it scans both sides of a page and in colour if there is colour on the page (there does seem to be a sensor for colour because a small amount of colour won’t persuade it to scan in colour).

Contrary to Nic’s review, the ScanSnap actually comes with a free copy of Adobe Acrobat 7 Standard which is worth a sizable chunk of the cost of the scanner itself if you were to go out and buy the software. The one disadvantage of the ScanSnap is that you can’t scan anything that would normally need a flatbed scanner and which doesn’t feed through a single sheet feed mechanism. Beyond that it scans brilliantly and the software that comes with the ScanSnap includes resolution/quality options to help you decide how sharp the image should be.

The reason you have Acrobat 7 Standard is so you can OCR your pdf scans and do all the other things you would like to do with your pdf and which Preview on the Mac doesn’t permit yet. I upgraded my version of Acrobat to version 8 Pro and the upgrade is well worth it. Acrobat 8 runs natively on Leopard whereas Acrobat 7 runs through Rosetta and is relatively slower.

The ScanSnap is a brilliant little scanner and when used in conjunction with a modem and decent fax software it can make serious headway in the fight to go paperless even if faxes are part of your workflows.

A commentator to the Nudjit review passed comment about the HP Officejet 4300 all in one scanner which appears to be comparable. Aside from being a real clunker compared to the ScanSnap it seems fancy enough except for the fact that you need a suitcase the carry the HP and it doesn’t come with a full version of Adobe Acrobat. Other than that, I am sure the HP is just fine …

Bottom line is that if you thought the ScanSnap was cool when you read Nic’s review, it is even better in real life. It is easy to use (literally a 1 button scan to pdf solution) and is the sort of device that does its job well so you can take its outputs and do yours even better.

If you are interested in getting yourself one of these babies, chat to Rowan at Compucart (no, they are not paying me anything for this punt). Their details are in my sidebar to the right (towards the bottom of the sidebar). I recommend this scanner.

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