ScanSnap iX100 Wireless Mobile Scanner Review

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The new ScanSNap iX100 packs a wireless scanner into a package about the same size as a toilet-paper tube. It is slick and easy to use, and it beats our previous pick for top portable scanner, the Xerox Mobile Scanner in almost every category.

Here is a quick look at what it’s like to use:

Fujitsu may be a little late to the party on wireless scanners, but it is doing it right. The iX100 works over USB or wireless, and you can scan straight to mobile with Fujitsu’s ScanSnap Connect app. It is light, quick enough, and reasonably priced. I’m giving it 4.5 stars.

All that said, you shouldn’t get one. Read on to find out why.

What’s Great About the ScanSnap iX100

The iX100 is small and light enough that you can just leave it in your bag, all the time. And since you no longer need to carry your laptop with you, the iX100 is the only thing you need to leave in your bag. As long as you have your smartphone or tablet, you can scan.

Like all ScanSnaps, setup is a cinch, including setting it up with the ScanSnap Connect app. You can even scan wirelessly to the app when you don’t have a wireless network, because the scanner broadcasts its own SSID. Just connect to the scanner’s network and you are good to go. This is a little clunky, but it works just fine.

Scanning multiple pages is easy. Just keep putting them into the feeder. The iX100 will end the current document when you push the Scan/Stop button. If you are scanning in a small space, you can even flip the exit guide up so that paper exits the scanner vertically and takes up less room.

The iX100 is also relatively cheap — just $229 MSRP. That price is close to impulse-purchase territory. But for all that, there is a better option that costs under $10.

Why You Don’t Need a ScanSnap iX100

I do not have many complaints about the iX100. It would be nice if it shipped with a carrying case, and the lack of onboard storage is the only feature it is “missing” compared to the Xerox Mobile Scanner or Doxie Go with Eye-Fi.

But the biggest question mark for me about a scanner like the iX100 is if you need a smartphone or tablet to use it on the go, why wouldn’t you just get a $6.99 app like Scanner Pro? While the iX100 is inexpensive, it’s way more expensive than an app. The iX100 may be the fastest micro scanner on the market, but an app is about the same speed. And while the iX100 is lightweight, it weighs a lot more than your phone alone. Instead of carrying around a portable scanner in your bag, you can have one with you even if you leave your bag at home.

So while I think the ScanSnap iX100 is the best portable wireless scanner on the market (and its bigger sibling the ScanSnap iX500 is a must-buy), that category is all but dead. I cannot come up with a reason to recommend that you get one. Just get a scanner app for your phone.

Update: ScanSnap iX100 v. the Scanner Pro App

After this review went live, Bob Ambrogi (who wrote his own review) challenged me on my assertion than the Scanner Pro app is a better choice than a portable scanner:

In response, I put it to the test, scanning two documents on the iX100, then using Scanner Pro. Watch:

For comparison, here are the scans:

ScanSnap iX100

Scanner Pro

Summary

The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 is the best portable wireless scanner on the market, but you probably shouldn’t get one.

Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100, reviewed by Sam Glover on .

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  • Todd Hendrickson

    I have to disagree about Scanner Pro. My problem with it is it never looks like a “real” scan. Lighting is never ideal, etc. Epson has a similar sized, but not wireless, scanner that I carry with me when I travel and anticipate needing to scan.

    • I’ve just recorded a side-by-side comparison of the iX100 and Scanner Pro. I’ll be uploading video as well as the scanned documents shortly. See what you think.

      • Eric

        Interesting comparison, but you only compared speed and cost. How does the image quality of the Scanner Pro app compare to the iX100’s image quality? Does one have an advantage over the other in regards to file size?

        • That’s why I included the scans I made with the app and the iX100. You can see for yourself that there’s no real difference in quality.

          The scans produced by the app are larger than the scans produced by the iX100. About twice the size, at three pages. I haven’t tested larger files to see if they will still be twice as large at twice the document length, but it is possible. Should this matter? I guess it depends on the length of the documents you are scanning. I probably would not use the iX100 for more than a few pages at a sitting, which is an extra megabyte now and then. That doesn’t change my mind.

          Realistically, I don’t think you would want to use the iX100 for more than a couple dozen pages at a time. I don’t think PDF size or cost or speed makes a compelling case for the iX100 if you are only doing that occasionally. If you are doing it all the time, maybe the scanner makes sense.

    • Graham Martin

      Did you choose whether you wanted the scan to be color, grayscale, or black and white? Black and white does look pretty flat, but I just used Scanner Pro on some oversized Abstract of Title documents on super thin paper, and the black and white setting eliminates much of the visible text on the reverse side of the paper. Grayscale, alternatively, makes the scans look much more “real.”

      • I used the black-and-white, “document” setting in Scanner Pro. Or rather, it auto-selected that option since it knew I was scanning a document.

        As you can see from my scans, it’s pretty much the same as what you get from using the document scanner. Sometimes you have to go grayscale to get the fine details, of course. That’s the case with a document scanner, too.

        • Graham Martin

          Yes–apologies. I was wondering which setting Mr. Hendrickson chose.

  • lawduck

    “Now I’ll upload to DropBox.”

    NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO.

  • Paul McGuire

    Well if nothing else, I think the obvious difference between the portable new Scansnap and the app is that the Scansnap is making OCR scans while the other one is just taking photos. I already have a fairly slow scanner that is part of a printer that scans things pretty decently but without OCR. So to upgrade because I don’t really have a high volume of documents to scan the new Scansnap seems like the way to go for me.

    I don’t think I really need the full Adobe Acrobat that comes with the more expensive versions. Plus I would see myself doing a combination of desktop scans and on-the-go scans with something like this. Sure I have the option of a much faster desktop scanner but that would have limitations based on portability that I don’t really need. So for someone who doesn’t already have a solid scanner with OCR capability, it seems to me the iX100 will fit my bill just nicely. If they will actually start selling it then I might be able to report back what I think about it.

    • I think the obvious difference between the portable new Scansnap and the app is that the Scansnap is making OCR scans

      No it isn’t. There is no text information in those scans because OCR has to happen on your computer. You can do that just as easily with the PDFs you get from an app.

      If you want a desktop scanner you can take with you, get the Kodak ScanMate i940. It’s got a document feeder, does duplex, and packs easily into your bag.

      • Paul McGuire

        OK sure but if someone doesn’t have OCR software on the computer the portable scanner comes with OCR software while the app doesn’t. Or are you saying it is better to just buy OCR software on its own? Right now my scanner works OK but the resulting files are huge because there is no OCR. A 26 page file ends up 18 megabytes. Even setting it to black and white doesn’t reduce the size very much.

        • OCR won’t make your files smaller. In fact, it will make them a bit bigger because you are adding information to them.

          File size is a function of your scanning settings and the software you use, not OCR. You can shrink file sizes with software like Acrobat (you can OCR any PDF with Acrobat, too), which is one of many reasons why I think Acrobat is essential software for lawyers.

          • Paul McGuire

            I appreciate all your responses to my questions here. I ended up going for the ix500 instead and I’m glad I did. The wireless scanning on the ix500 seems to mostly scan everything to a single depository on your mobile device, which is not a lot of fun to try to rename and move around when dealing with android. I also wanted to get Acrobat. Though I did have a few problems with the drivers installing correctly, I am quite satisfied with the ix500 and its small file size.

            Though I did notice that after converting a number of documents to OCR they did lower the file size slightly. One file went from 633kb to 500kb. So I do think that OCR tends to reduce the file size.

            • It’s not the OCR that is reducing the file size. As I said before, OCR adds information to the file.

              When you use OCR on a file, however, you have to re-save it, and if the application you are using for OCR applies different file compression than the ScanSnap did the first time around, you will get a smaller file. That’s almost certainly what is happening in your case. It’s not OCR that reduces the file size; it’s the act of saving it using a different application (Acrobat) than you used to create the file (ScanSnap Manager).

        • FWIW, many scanning apps now come with OCR. I’ve switched to Scanbot, and it uses OCR on all my documents before automatically uploading them to Dropbox. OCR is slower with the app than it is with my iX500, obviously, but it works great.

          Now, I don’t think the ScanSnap app has OCR, so if your plan is to use an iX100 to scan to a mobile device, you’re probably better off with a scanning app than with the ScanSnap.

          • Paul McGuire

            Good to know. I got a iX100 for a friend late last year and they are so far loving it so I may eventually get one if it seems I need more mobile scanning solutions. For now it is rare enough that I use anything mobile that I just do the few pages in Google Drive’s scanning option.