By Nerino Petro at 27 September, 2007, 3:24 pm
Scanners are becoming a part of every law office’s equipment, but finding the right scanner to fit your needs can often be difficult and confusing. For smaller offices, the first foray into the world of dedicated scanners is usually a small desktop or workgroup scanner such as models from Fujitsu or from Visionner in the $400 to $600 price range and are dedicated sheet fed scanners. Ideally, any scanner that you add to your office should be able to output scanned files to PDF format. The better scanners in this category usually also include software for Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and some type of image organization software such as PaperPort from Nuance.
PCMagazine on its PCMag.com website has published Dynamite Desktop Document Scanners comparing several leading desktop document scanners. This article provides a review of each scanner as well as a comparison chart comparing all of them. It should be pointed out that Fujtisu has released the ScanSnap S510 which is a newer model than the model reviewed.
The article also does an adequate job of detailing some of the differences between the different methods of duplex scanning as well as other features that set these dedicated document scanners apart from your average photo scanner.
One major issue to be aware of is that the ScanSnap does not include a TWAIN driver. What is TWAIN? According to Sue Chastain from About.com “Twain is the interface standard for Windows and Macintosh that allows imaging hardware devices (such as scanners and digital cameras) to communicate with image processing software.” This means that you can’t control the ScanSnap from any other software other than its own, which scans directly into Adobe Acrobat. However, since it does scan directly into Acrobat, this is not as large of a negative as it could be. Furthermore, some popular legal software programs such as Time Matters places a Save to TimeMatters button directly in Adobe so you can save directly to TimeMatters.
Fujitsu personnel that I’ve spoken with state that by not including a TWAIN driver Fujitsu is able to keep the cost of the ScanSnap lower. Another thing not to overlook is the fact that Fujitsi almost always has a $50.00 off coupon for the ScanSnap making the final cost of the ScanSnap around $375.00. With the entrance of the Xerox Documate 152 and its doppelgänger, the Visioneer Patriot 430, you can get a scanner in this class that includes a TWAIN driver for around $150 more than the ScanSnap.
The Fujitsu fi-5120c compares favorably with both the Canon DR-2580 and the Documate 262 and is the scanner that sits on my desktop at work. While about twice the price of the ScanSnap, it is designed for a higher duty cycle and includes a TWAIN drive as well as Ultrasonic double feed detection and other features.
If you are thinking of starting to scan documents in your office to improve your practice management, then you need to seriously consider a dedicated document scanner like those mentioned above.