ScanSnap Evernote Edition review:

A basic scanner with a premium price

One of the big selling features of the ScanSnap is that it can automatically detect what kind of document you're feeding into it, adjust the settings to produce the best scan, and then file the finished image or PDF into a predetermined notebook (what Evernote calls folders). It even works if you add a stack of different kinds of documents to the feeder at once.

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You can choose which type of document you're scanning in the ScanSnap Manager. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

Aside from the automatic mode, the scanner also comes with four manual scanning modes; document (PDF and JPEG), photos, business cards, and receipts. You can select one of those speciality modes to match what you're scanning from the ScanSnap Manager application.

When you first set up the ScanSnap, Evernote automatically creates four new notebooks, including "Scanned Receipts" and "Scanned Photos," but you can have your scans go directly to any of your existing notebooks instead. You can edit this at any time in the Evernote desktop app settings.

Evernote automatically files finished scans in the notebook you choose. Click to enlarge. Screenshot by Sarah Mitroff/CNET

When you scan a text document, it saves to Evernote as a PDF, while photos, receipts, and business cards save as a JPEG. Because Evernote uses optical character recognition technology, when you run a search in one of its apps, it will hunt for text in your scanned items and include them the search results if applicable.

Business cards also get something extra. You can connect your LinkedIn account to Evernote during the ScanSnap setup process and whenever you scan a business card, the service will pull in that person's LinkedIn profile information, which gets saved along with the scanned images of the card. This only works with Evernote on a Mac, but support for Windows is coming soon.

The ScanSnap is remarkably quiet and fast. Evernote says it can scan 25 pages per minute and, in my tests it hit that time frame. It only takes about 10 to 15 seconds for it to scan a document, process it, and have it show up in Evernote.

Evernote helped design the ScanSnap's software so that it automatically adjusts its settings to produce the best finished result based on what kind of content you're scanning. That means it uses the highest resolution available for each scan; 300dpi for color and up to 600dpi for black and white. That resolution is on par with competing ADF scanners.

The ScanSnap produced scans that were overall clear and readable, though in some instances, I noticed unwanted lines on photos and blurry-looking text in documents. In Evernote, you can open the scan in a new window and resize it to make the scan larger, which helps make small text easier to read.

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The ScanSnap is fast and quiet. Josh Miller/CNET

While photos and receipts looked fine, text from scanned documents was harder to read on one of the Evernote mobile apps, though your mileage may vary.

It can scan double-sided pages and automatically rotate images. However, I occasionally ran into problems with one page in a PDF turning out upside down or pages out of order. There's no way to edit the pages after the fact in Evernote, but you can open the file in a PDF reader and edit it there if your program has that capability (most free readers like Adobe Reader do not).

If there's a paper jam and two documents get scanned overlapping each other, an alert will pop up on your computer and ask how you want to proceed. You can either save the image of the two overlapping documents and continue scanning, or discard what was scanned and return the jammed documents to the feeder to try again. Either way, it does a good job of not losing all the previously scanned work.

The biggest selling point of the ScanSnap Evernote Edition is that it automatically imports everything it scans into Evernote, making it dead simple to scan and save just about anything that's cluttering your desk. That's important, because with other scanners, you need to manually add any files you've scanned to Evernote by finding them on your hard drive and dragging and dropping them into the application.

That said, the ScanSnap is far too expensive for what it is -- a simple wireless document scanner with a pleasing design. Even as a fan of Evernote myself, it's hard to justify spending $500 on a machine that chops a few minutes off my workflow. If those extra minutes are more valuable to you, and the price tag doesn't scare you away, then I recommend buying yourself a ScanSnap.

However, if you just want a scanner that won't break the bank, choose an all-in-one printer that not only scans, but also prints, sends faxes, and makes copies. They are a much better value and our top picks cost a fraction of the price of the ScanSnap. A few of our favorites are the HP Photosmart 7520 and the Dell B1165nfw, both of which cost just $200.

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