Fujitsu ScanSnap vs. All-In-One Flatbeds - Which is better?

Fujitsu ScanSnap vs. All-In-One Flatbeds – Which is better?


Often when there is a review or article about the Fujitsu ScanSnap, there are commenters saying that they already have a multifunction all-in-one or flatbed scanner, so why would they need to pay for something that just scans?

I’ve decided to outline some of the pros and cons of each.

Multifunction All-In-One/Flatbed

  • Often cheaper – You can usually find a multifunction or flatbed scanner for much less money than a ScanSnap
  • Can scan books/3D Objects – Since it’s flatbed, if you can put it on the scanner you can scan it. The ScanSnap can only scan flat things
  • TWAIN compatible – Most of these scanners are TWAIN compatible, which the ScanSnap is not. This means you can initiate the scan from other applications
  • Manual unless you have a document feeder type – Many flatbed scanners do not have a document feeder, or even if they do you have to manually flip the paper over to scan both sides.
  • Flat – Because the ScanSnap’s paper path is not 100% straight, if you are scanning photos etc. it may be better to do it on a flatbed

Fujitsu ScanSnap

  • Scans both pages at same time – Don’t underestimate the usefulness of this. When you have a lot of paper to go through, having to do just one pass and bring in both sides at once can be a huge time-saver
  • Discards blank pages – When you are doing double-sided scanning, having it discard blank pages automatically is both a time and a space saver
  • Handles different size paper – With some flatbed/multifunctions, in the rare case where they have a document feeder, you have to have all the paper the same size when you feed in a stack. The ScanSnap will handle a stack of different sized pages no problem.
  • Smaller footprint – Depending on whether you get the desktop model like the S1500 or a portable one S300, it is 1/3 or more smaller than a flatbed
  • Portable versions can power from USB – If you have the S300 or S300M, you can run it off the USB instead of plugging it into the wall. This can be handy if you need to be portable or want to scan somewhere where a plug isn’t handy
  • Incredibly easy to use with 1 button – Again, don’t underestimate the usefulness here. If something is not simple you (or at least I) won’t do it on a regular basis. Throwing the paper in and hitting a button is as simple as it gets.

So which is better, a ScanSnap or an all-in-one?

Like most things, it depends on what you want to do with it. If you want to scan lots of books or photos, a flatbed is probably a better choice. Something like the Canon MX850 is probably good, because it at least has a document feeder for those times you do want to scan some paper.

However, if you are wanting to scan documents on a regular basis, my personal opinion is that a Fujitsu ScanSnap is the way to go. The speed, ease of use, and included software will make a big difference.

Have I forgotten any pros and cons for either? Leave a comment and let us know.

About the Author

Brooks Duncan helps individuals and small businesses go paperless. He's been an accountant, a software developer, a manager in a very large corporation, and has run DocumentSnap since 2008. You can find Brooks on Twitter at @documentsnap or @brooksduncan. Thanks for stopping by.

Leave a Reply 5 comments

pendolino - November 18, 2008 Reply

@brooks – i forgot to mention that i do also own the fujitsu scansnap for mac (white version) that sits on my office desk. i've had it since before my brother MFC print/scan/copy machine and my comments are about it:

* very fast

* recently its been jamming or pulling two sheets at once. (i had read about others have this problem)

* its expensive now that i think about the other options

* i never made use of its included adobe acrobat license probably because its not well integrated into its slick proprietary interface. acrobat takes a while to load and longer to OCR so i just dont OCR since plain PDF is fine.

* i have to connect the USB to my macbook everytime i need to used it. this reduces its usefulness.

the great thing about using the brother MFC is i dont need to have or be near a computer to scan docs to myself. i also checked yesterday and it does have a duplexer for when you need to scan double sided docs but it does this through a double pass, fully automatic method.

also about the MFC: its a network device with a remote admin tool via browser or installable app (mac/win too). we have the wired version but there's a wireless version for those that need it.

i'd like to hear more from others that may have tried it as well.

    Alex Satrapa - February 18, 2012 Reply

    Make sure you check the manual for cleaning tips, and consider replacing the rollers as Fujitsu recommends. All paper handling devices will have this problem over time as the rubber rollers harden due to exposure to Oxygen & ultraviolet light. They are basically a consumable, and should be budgeted for as such.

    Which model Brother have you been using?

      Alex Satrapa - February 18, 2012 Reply

      Nevermind, it's the Brother MFC8860DN as you posted in a previous comment. Herp derp.

Brooks Duncan - November 18, 2008 Reply

@pendolino Thanks for the recommendation. Scanning-to-email is very handy for sure.

pendolino - November 18, 2008 Reply

the brother Brother MFC8860DN printer is what we are using for office scanning and it works great. the reason its so useful, besides very fast scanning, is that it can scan to email using the quickdial buttons on the control panel.

here’s how it works:
(1) put paper in feeder
(2) click scan button
(3) select the programmed quickdial key for desired email that also has quality and resolution settings (or enter email address manually)
(4) push go and you get an almost instant PDF in your email.

i’ve even bought one for the house and its great.

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