If you need to use a desktop scanner on a regular basis, you want it to be quick and easy to operate. It helps, too, if it’s small and able to convert scanned documents into a variety of formats, then save to disk or email/fax them to others. Fujitsu’s new ScanSnap S1500 meets most of those criteria and a few more besides.
Priced to appeal to the small business buyer, the ScanSnap S1500 is a lot smaller than you might expect as it’s sheet-fed rather than a flatbed device. It also folds up when not in use, with documents to be scanned loaded into a 50-page feeder that opens out of the top while a catch tray, similarly, folds out at the bottom. In between is a double-sided scanner, able to scan up to 20 pages (40 sides) per minute, with an ultrasonic detector to identify and alert the operator to any mis-feeds.
Installation takes around 20 minutes. A USB port and cable are provided for host connection, with Apple Mac and Windows versions available, both of which ship with a basic scanning application and tools to save the results in a variety of formats and print, fax or email the results. The Windows scanner we tried also came with a full copy of Adobe Acrobat 9 together with ABBYY FineReader for OCR conversion, plus a program to allow scanning direct to Microsoft SharePoint.
The only control on the scanner is a large, blue button. Load up your documents, press this button and they’re rapidly fed into the scanner and out again. Along the way the host software works how big each page is and which bits are in colour. It can also compensate for any misalignment before saving to PDF, optionally converting text to editable format as it goes.
Speed is dictated by the specification of the host PC but the whole process typically takes just a few seconds, after which you’re presented with a menu to, for example, send the scan to a network share, print it or send it out as an email attachment. Scanned documents can also be converted to Word, Excel or PowerPoint formats, plus you get a tool (CardMinder 4.0) to extract information from scanned business cards and manage the data involved.
It all worked as expected and we were impressed with both the speed and accuracy of the results. We also liked the intelligent cropping feature that enabled us to outline articles to be scanned using a highlighter rather scan the whole page every time, plus extract text from scanned areas and attach it to PDFs for indexing purposes.
Of course one of the drawbacks of a sheetfed scanner is the type and size of document it can handle. Books and magazines are a no-no, but the S1500 can cope with a variety of document sizes and weights other than A4. That includes both business cards and large documents up to A3, which need to be folded and placed inside a special carrier sheet. Unfortunately this last option wasn’t easy and if you need to scan large documents then a bigger, flatbed scanner would be a better choice.
Another drawback is the lack of TWAIN/ISIS drivers which means you can’t use the scanner with document management applications, other than Fujitsu’s own Rack2-Filer, a trial version of which is included in the box.
Such niggles aside, however, the ScanSnap S1500 is a fast little scanner that takes up hardly any room and will meet the needs of most small business buyers,. Moreover, it comes with a comprehensive software bundle to cope with a variety of tasks, and all at a very competitive price.