Review: Fujitsu fi-800R

In a market where it can sometimes be hard to tell what distinguishes one model from another, PFU has launched a scanner that does things that no other can

With a surprisingly compact footprint, the fi-800R is described as a 'front desk' device, which means its main focus is on passports and other ID type documents, but uniquely it also functions as a general A4 scanner.

This means that as well as being superbly well suited to passport scans, it can easily be used to also capture supporting information from other related documents - all in one device.

Thanks to a specifically redesigned version of Fujitsu's capture software, PaperStream Capture 2.8, the fi-800R is able to scan and capture data from a standard passport in around two seconds - the paper path takes the passport into the front slot and slides it back out again almost instantaneously.

The fi-800R is also the first scanner of its kind that doesn't require a separate carrier sheet to protect passports, incorporating a return path mechanism that can process thicker items such as ID cards as well as passports. The software includes specific handling for the Machine Readable Zone (MRZ) that holds all the key passport information. This data is automatically passed into a specially created XML index file.

The fi-800R would be ideal for use in holiday resorts, not just in hotel environments where the benefits are obvious, but also in businesses such as car hire companies or any other organisation that requires rapid accurate capture of passport details alongside other standard documents, such as a booking confirmation or insurance records. There is also a huge potential market in healthcare, as the NHS continues to push towards its paper-free targets, as well as gyms, libraries, government offices - in fact any organisation that requires proof of ID.

It is simplicity itself to use, with a U-shaped paper path for regular documents that includes Active Separation technology and automatic skew correction. Speeds are impressive for a specialist device as well, at up to 40ppm (80ipm) for standard A4 scans.

There is a lot to be said for any technology that allows a business to capture ID data quickly and efficiently at the point of contact with the public: we have all experienced that moment of panic at a hotel when a member of staff disappears to a back office to make a copy of our passport. What else might be happening back there? Am I opening myself up to fraud or identity theft by allowing my documents out of my sight, even just for a few minutes?

With the fi-800R that concern is simply erased: customers can see their passport being processed right in front of them in seconds and returned to them, along with any other documents they need to have captured.
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The fi-800R is a rare thing indeed - a genuinely radical scanner that really stands out in an increasingly commoditised marketplace. It could be a game-changer for all kinds of ID and front-desk type processes.