Wireless connectivity has come to portable scanners. I’ve been traveling with the recently introduced Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100, the company’s newest portable scanner. It’s a remarkable little package that lets me turn paper documents into digital documents wherever I am, and do it completely wirelessly. There’s no need for a USB connection or power cord. That means it can connect to smartphones and tablets wirelessly, as well as to a computer both wirelessly or with the USB connector supplied.

I’ve been evaluating the product by scanning receipts, business cards, marked-up documents, NDAs, invoices and bank statements into my computer, iPad and iPhone. I’ve used it at home and on the road in China.

With the scanner by my side, I have scanned in travel receipts minutes after receiving them, such as a hotel receipt while in a cab to the airport. I’ve lost or misplaced receipts in the past, but now they are permanently saved in the cloud or device. Once the documents are scanned, they can be saved in a variety of applications or emailed.

The iX100 is the step-up model to the S1100, a similarly sized unit introduced two years ago that is powered from a USB port on a computer. The iX100 adds a built-in rechargeable battery and built-in Wi-Fi that connects locally to your devices using its own local network and doesn’t require access to a home or public Wi-Fi network.

The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 wireless scanner is smaller and lighter than a portable umbrella. It weighs 14 ounces and fits next to a keyboard on a desk or in a briefcase on the road. Courtesy photo

The scanner is the same size as the S1100, smaller and lighter than a portable umbrella. It weighs 14 ounces and fits next to a keyboard on a desk or in a briefcase on the road.

Simply open the lid and fold down the front flap and it turns on. You feed in documents using a straight path or a 90-degree path, depending on the stiffness of the document or the availability of desk space. It handles a range of paper thicknesses including flimsy printed receipts, laminated documents, cardboard stock, business cards and even credit cards. Scanning is quick at 5.2 seconds for an 11-inch-long page. It can scan multiple small documents such as receipts at once or multipage documents a page at a time.

Documents larger than legal size, such as charts and diagrams, can be scanned and stitched together. Simply fold the documents in half, scan both sides, and the iX100 will automatically stitch it back together, producing a one-page digital image.

The iX100 is designed to scan documents in full color with 300 dpi resolution, but is not intended to scan photographs. The quality looks exactly what comes off a printer or color copier. The S1100 has 600 dpi resolution, but the perceived differences were not detectable.

In my long use of the S1100 and two-week use of the iX100, it’s apparent that internal software is one of Fujitsu’s strengths. The software can straighten skewed documents that are fed at an angle, and adjust for receipts that are barely readable and business cards on dark backgrounds. Rarely do I get a scan that is not useable.

The included computer software is similar to what Fujitsu provides with its other scanners. It’s robust and easy to use, yet provides broad versatility. After scanning, a window opens and offers a choice of scanning directly to a file folder, Word document, Salesforce, Evernote, a Google Doc, or an email, and can save it as a PDF, jpeg or other format. It works with Windows and Mac computers, as well as iOS, Android and Kindle Fire mobile devices.

The “ScanSnap Connect” app that’s used to scan directly into your tablet or smartphone, can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store and Google Play Store, as well as the Amazon App Store for Kindle Fire.

The scanner comes with other software I didn’t evaluate, such as ScanSnap Receipt, to intelligently and automatically extract data from receipts, and CardMinder, which automatically extracts the information from business cards into editable fields that can be exported to Outlook, Excel, Salesforce and other contact management software.

The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 is available for $229 through Fujitsu authorized resellers. Included is a three-month subscription to Evernote Premium. The S1100 continues to be available for $199.

Both of these products are the best portable scanners I’ve used. I’ve had the S1100 for two years, carrying it around the world without a case, and it’s been reliable and trouble-free. I expect the iX100 to be equally robust and much more convenient to use. The $30 premium for the iX100 is a small price to pay for all its new capabilities.

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When Apple upgraded its computer’s MacOS operating system to Mavericks nearly a year ago, Mail for Mac, which I’ll refer to as Mail, no longer worked well with Gmail.

It failed to retrieve email reliably. Often you’d need to wait for hours, and when the mail did arrive, it could take several minutes to fill in the body of the messages. Outgoing mail could take five or 10 minutes to send.

My solution was to bypass Mail and go online directly to gmail.com, not a very satisfying solution with Gmail’s limited features and archaic user interface. A few months ago, I moved to another computer, and when the problem followed, I began to look for a replacement for Mail.

Now, a bug such as this, while serious, is not all that unusual with a major upgrade, and the issues are often corrected in the next upgrade or two. But in update after update, in spite of Apple saying it has made fixes for Gmail, the problem has continued, and based on reading message boards, many others are still complaining. It’s now nearly a year later and Apple has not fixed the problem.

A senior customer service manager at Apple, referred by its PR department, told me that the engineers are aware of the issues with Gmail, and for now they suggest clicking on the button that takes your Mail offline for a few minutes and then clicking again to reconnect. Didn’t help.

Why should it take so long to fix? Does Apple or Google really want to solve this, or is there some secret plot by Apple to wean Apple users away from Google. Or is Google trying to take revenge on Apple? Or does Apple just not care? As I discovered, there are substitutes for Mail that don’t have the problem and work just fine.

Not by choice, but out of necessity, I’ve been looking for a Mail replacement. I’ve looked at most products and narrowed down my search to three to try: Airmail, Postbox and Unibox. Each does a good job replicating the functions of Mail, and each has its own special features and quirks.

Email programs have come a long way in making it easy to set up your mail accounts — no more manually entering information by hand. Each of these programs figured out all of the settings by just entering my email address and password for all three of my accounts.

Postbox looks the most like Mail and takes the least effort to learn. It uses the same window layout, color scheme and icon layout. Its typography design is excellent, and is easy to read even while displaying a long list of emails.

Airmail also has a similar layout to Mail, but has a jarring black window on the left serving as a background to the files lists. It can be hidden, but the color cannot be changed.

Unibox organizes email by contacts based on the date of the contact’s last email, an approach different from other products. That took some getting used to, because I normally respond to messages in chronological order or by thread, regardless of the sender.

Its sparse clean appearance is unique and attractive. Even message recipients and distribution names are hidden. But I found it too sparse and it required too many clicks to get to the information

There was a big difference in how effectively these programs retrieve, open and send email. I found new email to show up first in Airmail and PostBox. Unibox usually lagged behind, and I would see the spinning wheel on occasion after opening an email and waiting for the contents to arrive. On a few occasions I got an error that the message could not be synced.

But Apple Mail is worse. It’s usually last in downloading new email, sometimes by hours! Opening up the message and contents can take from a few seconds to more than 30 before being able to be read it. While this often occurs for many hours each day, it’s not consistent. Occasionally, for several hours over the course of a day, it will behave perfectly normal.

Over weeks of use, Airmail and Postbox have proven to be the most reliable and trouble free. Unibox occasionally forces me to wait while downloading the contents of some emails, and some units needed to be closed and opened a few times to work. A spokesman said the company is in the midst of an upgrade that should resolve many of these issues. Postbox and Unibox each enable you to switch from a mail view to an attachment view, a useful feature. And Postbox has a clever feature that reminds you to add an attachment should you try sending out an email that contains the word “attachment”.

While I focused on the products’ basic email functionality, each offers features that may cause you to prefer one over another. While Airmail does a good job at matching Mail feature for feature, Postbox seems like the next generation of Mail.

My favorite was Postbox, followed closely by Airmail. A Postbox representative told me that a new version would be released soon with more features.

Each product costs $10 and each offers a free trial. Postbox is also available for Windows.

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Apple’s announcements last week showed the strength of the company’s product design capabilities. No company can match its skills in industrial design, engineering and the integration of beautiful software and hardware. But Apple is also skilled in its ability to exaggerate. Without taking away from its accomplishments, Apple takes credit without embarrassment for features they haven’t originated.

For example, the introduction of new iPhones with larger displays comes four years after Samsung and others made that leap. For the past two years the most popular size display for other phones has been in the 5-inch range.  Just look at the offerings from Microsoft, Motorola, HTC, LG and Samsung. And Apple no longer leads the industry with the highest resolution displays. In fact, if you move from an iPhone 5S to an iPhone 6, the sharpness drops slightly.

Another example: Apple took credit for a “new” feature that enables the iPhone to dial over the Internet using WiFi when your cellular signal is poor. It announced that T-Mobile would be the first to adopt. However, Apple omitted to mention that T-Mobile has had this capability built into its phones for several years.

One of the most dramatic examples on display was the focus on the little cylindrical knob, called a crown, similar to what’s been on watches for eons. Apple calls it a digital crown and uses it to scroll, zoom and click. While the application is very clever and ingenious, the company’s video expounding it as revolutionary seemed over the top. But all of this is part of Apple’s bravado, originated by Steve Jobs, and plays to their loyal and outspoken fan base.

Now all of this is not to take away from Apple’s business acumen and often phenomenal products. One of its strategies is, in fact, not to be first in everything it does, but to wait while other companies try and fail. Then it comes up with a much better solution that’s fully thought through and well implemented, bringing along major partners to make the solution really useful. Apple takes the long view, focusing on what its customers will want and can easily use. Apple may be slow to adopt, but when it does, it’s well executed and something that resonates with the customer.

That’s what it did with Apple Pay, a way to make payments with your iPhone. Companies such as PayPal and Google have tried and failed or have yet to get off the ground. Apple may be the first to succeed because it brings along hundreds of millions of iPhone users, and the cooperation of banks and merchants.

It appears Apple has thought through security, ease of use and has the support from the major credit card companies. And its timing could not be better, with the theft of credit card information from Target, Home Depot and others.

Overall, I came away with a generally positive view of the new offerings, but intend to wait for more specifics. For example, the new iPhone 6 and 6+ offer sleeker IDs and larger displays. But Apple iPhones have had mediocre battery life, and no mention was made of whether that will be improved in spite of more power hungry displays. The reported use of scratchproof sapphire glass never materialized, possibly because it was not ready. Will that be next season’s upgrade?

Most interesting was the Apple Watch. This is not perceived as a limited purpose device like a Jawbone UP or Fitbit. It’s clearly Apple’s next platform, deserving of a new OS.  It’s the beginning.  It’s a multipurpose device that will start out performing some interesting functions, but it’s also a blank slate (or display) that can go in multiple directions, based on new software and services. It’s designed for the long run, not to be replaced with new models every year.

It displays Apple’s core capabilities such as hardware miniaturization, mechanical design and beautiful aesthetics. It’s likely the first smartwatch that both men and women would consider wearing.

Its timeless design, catering to both function and fashion, represents Apple’s entry into wearable computers. It addresses all that has been wrong with other wearable devices: size, attractiveness and functionality.

Just as few of us could envision the potential of the iPad when it was first announced — the same applies to the Apple Watch.

My take-away from the presentation is that Apple is more formidable than ever.  As Samsung comes closer to matching its capabilities in iPhones and tablets, Apple has raised the bar considerably.

The company is so good at what it does, you wonder why they have to exaggerate — but that’s Apple, and the fans love it.

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Get ready for the onslaught of smart watches punctuated by Apple’s announcement Tuesday. Smart watches and wristbands have been the hot new product category hyped by analysts, tech reporters and scores of companies that need something new to talk about and replace their maturing categories of tablets and smartphones. But based on what we’ve seen so far, I’m skeptical.

It’s been a category filled with expensive and flawed products, some even being recalled and cancelled, and a customer base that on average stops using the devices after seven months. Many companies have tried and few have succeeded.

I’ve tried several of them over the past two years and, for the most part, they are underwhelming. I’ve personally gone through the stages of awe, touting my Nike Fuel Band device; complacency, when I realized it was useful for just walking and reading the time in the dark; and finally annoyance, when I forgot to keep the device charged and it stopped working. All while my wife, Jane, kept asking why I continued to wear such an ugly rubber band, especially because it didn’t motivate me to exercise more.

She’s correct. The devices are mostly big, ugly, expensive and offer limited capabilities. They generally promise more than they deliver. And now many of their functions are available on free apps, such as Breeze.

The most useful features of the fitness bands and watches track your walking and compare your progress over time. And many tout the dubious ability to share your workout with friends on Facebook. Really? Some products, such as those from Basis and Withings, offer more health-related features, such as measuring your pulse and sleep state. While these devices are marvels of miniaturization, I found the accuracy among them lacking.

For example, distance walked and calories burned varied over a range of more than 2 to 1 among the Fitbit, Nike Fuel Band, Withings and Basis. When I tested them, none allowed you to enter your stride for accuracy, something a $15 pedometer does. Pulse measurements with the Basis and Withings were not repeatable and varied widely, and none of the devices handle bicycling, in spite of several claiming to. You’re much better off with the free apps MapMyWalk or MapMyRide.

The devices, for the most part are limited, first-generation products. It will take much more accurate sensors and better software to interpret the results and offer meaningful advice for them to become useful. While these devices can accumulate pages of data, they fail to tell you what the information all means.

The real promise of these devices is to be able to improve your health by monitoring many of your health signs and providing personal advice as to what you can do to improve, and to provide real-time information to your physician. That will take cooperation among health providers, doctors and the device manufacturer, something few companies other than Apple have the clout do.

And then there’s the question of privacy. Do we really want Google and Apple to know our health signs and risk sharing that information with others? With the recent news that photos from your phone are in the cloud and can be easily hacked, do you want your weight, exercise habits or medications to be made public by hackers?

But with all that said, I have high expectations for Apple to succeed. When Apple takes interest in a product category, the industry pays attention because the company has a history of redefining an entire category with innovations and outstanding industrial designs. While the company has its work cut out, it will be more likely to get it right.

The iPod was not the first digital player, but it redefined the category, and Apple was able to create important relationships with the record companies. And the iPhone was not the first cellular phone, but it revolutionized the mobile phone industry.

With the iWatch, as it’s been called, I expect Apple will make it part of a huge ecosystem that includes the hardware, software, apps, services and alliances with industries such as health, automotive, security, home automation as well as home appliances.

Few but Apple can get auto companies to make their locks talk to their watch, get medical providers to monitor your health signs, and persuade appliance companies to embed sensors that work with your iWatch.

Apple will find a way to make all of these disparate functions easy to access and use, as well as bring their expertise in industrial design to create a stunning timepiece. The company has the opportunity to create the next-generation watch that combines technology with an attractive piece of 21st-century jewelry.

And I expect they will add new functionality. Instead of tiny buttons, make it voice activated. Allow you to do verbal searches and get verbal answers. Use it to unlock your car, control your space by turning on lights as you walk through your house. Send you alerts that coach and remind you.

There’s a huge opportunity if it’s done right that will require a huge amount of work to miniaturize the technology, and to make it simple to use. The iWatch might just become the next big thing.

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Whatever I’m doing, I always seem to carry more technology gadgets than I need. Even though gadgets have become lighter, my bag has become heavier with many different products. Fortunately, there are some good solutions for dealing with this, as well as for those who want to travel with the smallest possible bag.

On a recent trip to San Francisco, I carried a 13-inch MacBook Pro, an iPad mini, chargers for each, an iPhone 5S, an HTC One M8, a Ricoh GR pocket camera, its charger and an extra battery, a music player, Sennheiser Momentum headphones, numerous cables, a paper notebook, a bunch of pens, keys, business cards, and some reading material.

The challenge is to find a bag that does a good job organizing all the stuff while allowing you to find things quickly. Sometimes too many pockets mean extra searching, while too few mean your items are all mixed together with tangles cords.

One solution can be found in the bags from Glaser Design, a San Francisco company run by Myron and Kari Glaser. Myron told me that a vertical briefcase is an inefficient way to carry technology stuff because everything simply drops to the bottom of the bag.

The company has developed a series of modules designed to precisely fit in Glaser’s bags and allow you to store your items and easily retrieve them. They include translucent zippered organizers for your chargers and small items, a presentation binder for paper, a padded panel with movable pockets for pens, phones and business cards, and a variety of removable pockets for a computer. One even transforms into an under arm portfolio.

Leather briefcase with modules from Glaser Designs

While their products are not inexpensive, they are a much better value than designer products that cost even more. Bags begin at about $1,000 and can reach $2000, but they are considered by their worldwide clients to be the best you can buy anywhere. Accessories cost $50 and up, and of course they can be used in any bag. Myron offers free Skype consultation calls in which he will work with you to design a bag for your specific needs. (http://glaserdesigns.wordpress.com).

Some of the most innovative designs these days are coming from Tumi, which has embraced the needs of technology users. Once known for just a few conservative products such as roller bags and men’s ballistic nylon briefcases with a few pockets, they now offer hundreds of products for men and women designed for carrying technology.

For example, Tumi has developed a line of business-oriented backpacks. One of their newest and best is the Kingsville deluxe brief pack, which is exceptionally lightweight and offers a huge amount of space for items of all shapes and sizes.

The ballistic nylon backpack with leather trim has compartments for up to a 15-inch notebook, an iPad, phones, a large pair of headphones and cameras of all sizes. It’s also designed to slide over the handle of a suitcase, much like a briefcase. With a narrower width than a briefcase, it rolls right down the aisle on top of a suitcase. The 17-inch by 12-inch by 7.25-inch model is much more practical than a briefcase for holding bulky items. (tumi.com) $455.

Looking for a minimalist bag? Waterfield Design in San Francisco just introduced a vertical bag that’s lightweight and fashionable. The VertiGo 2.0 Laptop Bag is more like a large men’s handbag that also can carry your tablet or notebook. It comes in black ballistic, brown waxed canvas, with black or chocolate leather. There’s a front pocket with magnet closure, a zippered inside and two open pockets inside, an open back pocket, and key fob. There are handles and a shoulder strap.

The bag comes in three sizes and costs from $129 to $159 in a choice of colors, and is custom made in 3 days from when you place your order. (www.sfbags.com).

For the minimalist who wants to carry just a notebook and iPad in the smallest size package, look at the Thule Stravan Deluxe Attache Case, available exclusively at Apple Stores. It’s a well-padded case with a plush lining that precisely fits a 13-inch MacBook Pro or Air and an iPad, with separate pockets for the chargers and a phone. It also has tuck-away handles and a shoulder strap. $80.

For a wheeled case, I like the Briggs and Riley U116SP Baseline Rolling Cabin Bag, which offers a huge amount of space to carry your office on the go. Its main compartment is not encumbered by partitions, so you can even carry a briefcase inside. It fits perfectly under an airplane seat and easily glides down airport corridors on four wheels. (www.briggs-riley.com) $349.

Another great choice for a minimalist bag is Levenger’s Bomber Jacket Tech Traveler Briefcase. It’s a compact case made of Levenger’s heavy duty pebbled mocha-colored leather with plaid lining that snuggly fits an iPad, even in a case. It has a soft neoprene interior and several interior pockets, and comes with a shoulder strap and handles. (www.levenger.com) $179.

Searching for the perfect briefcase is an addiction many of us have. Each of these companies offers lots of different bags that will keep that addiction alive.

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