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Capture Documents While on the Road

Portable scanners have come a long way from their bulky, heavy, and power-hungry counterparts of the past.

Bill Winterberg, 10/13/2011

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Today's technology allows advisors to be more mobile than ever. Some advisors are able to perform nearly all of their business activities using only a laptop and cell phone with mobile broadband connectivity. One key technology that enables such mobility is the implementation of a paperless office, where important client documents can be accessed quickly and updated in real time.

But while on the road, advisors need a solution to manage paperwork they might collect and wish to add to their document management system. Examples include handouts from conferences, white papers and marketing materials obtained from vendors and wholesalers, and receipts to document travel expenses.

Portable scanners represent one solution for advisors looking to capture high-quality images for their paperless workflow. I looked into portable scanners from a variety of manufacturers before deciding to review the ScanSnap S1100 color scanner from Fujitsu (MSRP $199). I'm very pleased with my own Fujistu ScanSnap S1500 that I use in my consulting business, and I know that many advisors also successfully use desktop and network scanners from the company. Fujitsu kindly sent me an evaluation unit of the S1100 for this review.

Unboxing the S1100
The ScanSnap S1100 ships in a compact box with minimal pieces included. Inside are the ScanSnap itself, a six-foot Mini-USB data cable with a Velcro cable wrap, a getting started guide, a warranty guide, and software DVD-ROM. The S1100 measures 10.74 inches long, 1.33 inches high, and 1.87 inches deep and weighs about three-quarters of a pound (for reference, the Apple iPad 2 weighs 1.33 pounds).

The scanner is powered entirely by the included USB cable when connected to a computer and requires no other external power source. This is a desirable feature for advisors on the go who already carry too many AC power adaptors for their electronic devices. Also worth noting is that several other portable scanners require the use of two USB ports for power and data connections instead of only one USB port required by the S1100. An optional carrying case is available for under $30 that features flaps for the USB cable and paper feed, allowing the scanner to be used without removing it from its case.

Another attractive feature of the S1100 is its cross-platform support. The scanner is compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems. The scanner ships with the following software for Windows:

  • ScanSnap Manager
  • ScanSnap Organizer
  • CardMinderTM, for capturing contact information from business cards
  • ABBYY FineReader for ScanSnapTM, the program that performs optical character recognition (OCR)
  • Evernote for Windows, a web-based service to store and organize notes, PDFs, and photos
  • Scan to Microsoft® SharePoint®

Software for Mac includes:

Bill Winterberg, CFP, is a technology and operations consultant to independent financial advisors. His comments on technology have been featured in a variety of financial industry publications. You can view more information about Bill and see his schedule of upcoming speaking engagements at his Web site, FPPad.com. The author is a freelance contributor to MorningstarAdvisor.com. The views expressed in this article may or may not reflect the views of Morningstar.
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