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Thursday, October 3, 2019

The Epson FastFoto FF-680W Scanner: Digitize That Shoebox Full of Photos

The Epson FastFoto FF-680W on a desk printing images from a laptop sitting next to it.

Have tons of boxes full of photos? With the Epson FastFoto FF-680W, you can digitize those, along with every snapshot in your photo albums, and save them on your PC, Mac, or the cloud. Unfortunately, it’s not cheap.

Where Did I Put Those Photos?

Many people have tons of photos—their own, and those they’ve inherited from relatives. The problem with saving printed photos is they’re vulnerable. They can be damaged by water or fire, or you might accidentally throw them out, and then those memories are gone forever.

If you don’t mind sharing your pictures with the world, Instagram is one solution and storing them in the cloud is another. First, though, you have to convert them to digital, and that’s where the Epson FastFoto FF-680W comes in.

The FastFoto looks and operates like a standard document scanner. But it’s designed to scan photos of all kinds, as long as they fit in the input tray. Unlike most other sheet-fed scanners, the FastFoto accommodates thick photos, like Polaroids or postcards. Ham Radio operators and Shortwave Listeners who exchange QSL cards will love this scanner’s ability to organize and store them. And, if you have notes on the back of your cards and photos, the scanner picks those up, too—you don’t even have to turn it over and re-scan.

Setup’s a Breeze

It’s a quick process to get the FastFoto up and running. After I unpacked it and plugged in the included power adapter, I downloaded the software from Epson’s support site. This ensures you have the most recent drivers and utilities. The download includes both the FastFoto software and Epson’s ScanSmart utility. You can connect the scanner via USB or Wi-Fi, which is the way I tested it. The setup looks for and identifies the network, and then installs the scanner driver and utilities. After a few minutes, you’re ready to scan!

The "Connection" tab in the EpsonNet "Network Setup" menu, and the "Start Scanning" menu in the FastFoto software.
The software identifies the network and installs the scanner.

Scan Away

To conserve space, you can fold up the scanner when it’s not in use. The top unfolds to expose the input feed and paper support, while the bottom panel slides out and becomes the output tray. Just unfold it and turn on the power, and you’re ready to scan.

You can scan in two ways: launch the FastFoto or ScanSmart application from the Start menu or just press the Scan button on the scanner. The latter option also launches the FastFoto software on your PC or Mac. The Scan button works whether you connect via USB or Wi-Fi.

The controls on the scanner are not particularly intuitive, so I printed out the part of the documentation that labels them and taped it to the front panel of the unit. The controls do become familiar after a few scans, but it was helpful to refer to the labels at first. Most of the operations I performed were from the FastFoto and ScanSmart screens on my laptop. One nice feature that isn’t immediately apparent is the double-feed detection skip button. This enables or disables double-feed detection, which is necessary because the device can scan thicker documents, such as postcards and Polaroids.


The controls on the front panel of the Epson FastFoto FF-680W next to a diagram of the controls and what they do.
The front panel controls and their functions. Ted Needleman

Speedy Does It

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