From atoms to bits: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500

11 06 2010

A few years ago, I moved from Davisville and Yonge to my current place, and was shocked by the amount of stuff I had accumulated in the 6 years living there. This is a pic from that day, and it only shows a small fraction of our moving bins:

Lots of atoms

Prior to that, my diggings consisted of a very small bachelor unit. Back then I had to often choose between useless things or having some walking space at home. Most of the time, walking space won 😛

My current place is considerably bigger than the previous one, so the accumulation process continued, and – with a pre-schooler around – it just went into overdrive mode. I started dreading the day when I would have to move again.

About a month ago, when a new batch of comic books arrived via mail, it became crystal clear that something had to change. I am basically paying rent for keeping atoms around. Lots of atoms. The next day, I went to TigerDirect and bought the last Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 unit they had. It was very expensive for a scanner – about CAD$ 500, the Adobe Acrobat license accounting for most of it – but it was worth every cent paid. This is the beauty:

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500

The product page at the Fujitsu website summarizes the S1500 features as follows:

Simply put the pages into the automatic feeder and ScanSnap will:

  • Scan both sides of the page
  • Detect the size of the page
  • Detect colour, grayscale or black & white
  • Detect blank pages
  • Detect page orientation
  • Straighten skewed images
  • Create a PDF or JPEG file

All at the speed of 40 images per minute (20 double sided pages).

My first ScanSnap “project” was to digitize all the school material from my MBA days. I did it while watching the NBA playoffs – it actually helped going through those endless time-outs and commercial breaks. The result ended up being better than the original documents, as the content is now searchable (after running Acrobat’s OCR), and I created a Table of Content to facilitate browsing through the materials.

So, in a few scanning sessions, 3 shelves full of binders and books:

Were transformed into a Stanza folder in my iPad, totaling about 1 GB of storage:

In other words, 27 sets of MBA course materials can now easily fit a data DVD or small USB memory key! By my calculations, a 2 TB external drive can store all my VCR tapes, music, photos, books and comics. Maybe it’s time to start looking for a smaller place to live, after all.

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