Fast, Excellent Document Scanner: Fujitsu ScanSnap 1500M

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32 Responses to “Fast, Excellent Document Scanner: Fujitsu ScanSnap 1500M”

  1. Shawn Nock says:

    I just bought one of these for work. The linux support is fantastic, it never jams even duplex scanning 50 page stacks of crumpled old records. I second your review emphatically!

  2. DaLutj says:

    Fujitsu has just introduced the ScanSnap s1300 which is the follow on to the s300, which is MAC and PC compatible. Fujitsu listens!

  3. Steven Wyatt says:

    I would love to hear a recommendation for a scanner that can also be used to scan books (as opposed to loose paper). I am starting work on my dissertation, and it would be an absolute dream if I were able to scan my sources into PDF, searchable, highlightable… ::sigh:: Ive seen a couple good ones, but they are either far too expensive, or not in the least bit mac compatible.

    • haineux says:

      Google is using digital cameras to scan books, two cameras per double-page spread. Interleaving the resulting digital images is some work, but the real hard part is turning the pages.

      You can do the same: Get any digital camera that can focus at a reasonably close distance, and then set it to generate 2 megapixel images. (Too many bits makes OCR less reliable.)

      Then you have to find OCR that can be controlled by software, so that it can automatically combine the various pages into one output file. (The other hard part is finding OCR software that understands whatever technical jargon is in your texts.)

      Even then, the results will only be 99% or so, so plan on spending a few minutes per page fixing — unless, of course, you have reCAPTCHA to help out, as Google does.

      Also, whenever possible, get a cheap paperback copy of the book, and take it down to a print shop and get them to cut the binding off. Then use a scanner like the one above. It will almost certainly do a better job.

    • latchkeyed says:

      If you are talking about scanning bound books, you are probably going to be better off using digital cameras rather than a scanner. Take a look at http://www.bookliberator.org for an idea of how simple that can be.

      If you are looking for a scanner to scan de-bound books, that is if you own copies of your source books and want to take them to the copy shop to have the bindings cut off, I can highly recommend the scansnap. I have done a lot of that type of scanning and the scansnap works even with roughly cut books where I used s circular saw to cut the binding rather than the nice compressed gas press cutters they use at the copy shop. For reference, the copy shops near me charge about $1/book to nicely cut the binding off.

  4. Anonymous says:

    snapscan FTW!

    I had an all-in-one HP (C6100 i think) and it was soooooooooooooooooooooooo sloooooooooooooooooooooooow. And super buggy. Got a snapscan on the recommendation of a peer and am impressed. A great product.

    On a related note, I have had many HP products over the years (mom was an employee and got a discount) and I can vouch that their products are invariably disappointing. Okay, not invariably, there is an old centronix laser writer that is still plugging away at mom’s house but that hardly makes up for the dozens (literally) of printers that needed replacement and the laptops and desktops filled with cheap proprietary components and bloatware. It is sad to see one of the former industry pillars reduced to pushing products of dollar store quality.

  5. Anonymous says:

    I second the opinion on the fujitsu scan snap 1500. I have both the windows version and the mac version (home and work) and they both rock. character recognition is basically the best I have ever used. It is fast, reliable, and basically does the job well. There is also a larger, corporate version of this with a touchscreen, and supports LDAP so you can centralize scanning in the office. I think the model number is the fi-6010n. Scans directly to your email inbox from a central location or you can scan it directly to a target users mailbox (scan to email). Works great!

  6. haineux says:

    Scanning a black-and-white, high contrast page at 300dpi is about ONE MEGABYTE of data.

    I worked on a scanner back at DEC in 1982 that could scan one page PER SECOND — even a cheap netbook can keep up with 1 MB/s over USB.

    The OCR is MUCH MUCH HARDER. That multi-million-dollar DEC computer would have taken many MINUTES to do the OCR.

    So why are scanners so slow?
    1) Most people scan at 1200 or 9600 dpi, because “it’s better.” (Um, I’m sure there’s some fine detail in that magazine picture that NEEDS all those megapixels, but OCR actually works better at a moderate dpi.)

    2) Because (most) scanner’s motors and logic are dirt cheap, each “line” of the scan involves bumping the motor, waiting for the motor to stop (90% of the time), grabbing the pixels, compressing them, and communicating over the bus.

    Those old scanners (and probably some of the better new ones) ran the paper through at a constant speed, and slurped the data into memory “on the fly,” then sent it out the bus in one big spurt.

  7. jdollak says:

    I actually use this model at work, and have scanned in roughly a year’s worth of reports and assorted documentation.
    I have a few problems that have cropped up in using it heavily for a half year.
    1 – The feeding area needs a better guide. If the paper has a curvature because it was in storage for awhile, it tends to gravitate in one direction. I usually have to hold a finger in place to ensure that it keeps scanning straight.
    2 – It can’t handle shifts in paper thickness too well. If you switch up between a thin piece and a thick piece, it will usually scan them through together, and you have to redo the scan. Altering the sequence allows you to fix this.

    But it is a very good scanner, and I plan on getting one for home eventually. I’d also like to point out that the software is VERY smart. It usually orients the paper correctly regardless of how it is scanned.

  8. Anonymous says:

    I have Fujitsu’s ScanSnap S300 and I love it. Its the much cheaper and portable(?) version. Wholly impressed with its speed and features. In my mind, Fujitsu is going to be hard to beat in the scanner market.

  9. jackdavinci says:

    This is cool, but what I need much more than a document scanner is a scanner for all my old pre-digital photos. A few years back I found one scanner but it wasn’t all that great – the feeder mechanism left little marks on the photos, and the pictures weren’t always straight. You’d think this would be something that would have been perfected by now – they even have devices just to convert your LPs into mp3s! Why no love for the photo? Or is it better to scan negatives? In either case, any cheap automated system out there?

  10. Anonymous says:

    most people aren’t going to geek out over the price. $400 for a scanner? I’m willing to wait a few more seconds and save $300 bucks.

  11. Anonymous says:

    i have the s1500 and s500 and they work great

    the problem is, their proprietary drivers

    my office could make leaps in efficiency if the scansnap played nicely with our contact mgmt system and the terminal server

    unfortunately, now i have to find a similar quality scanner without the microsoft-like scansnap software/drivers

    :(

  12. Yamazakikun says:

    I’ve got the version from three years ago, and it is definitely awesome. I’m using DevonThink Pro, though.

  13. misterdna says:

    I gotta admit, scanners like this appealed to me, but not the price of $42o. Then I bought a HP Scanjet 8250 scanner for only $65 at geeks.com! It was reconditioned, though geeks.com didn’t mention that fact anywhere on their website. Regardless, for roughly 15% the price of the scanner you are recommending, I’ve been pretty damn happy with the HP’s one and two-sided document scanning abilities. The HP software also includes OCR. The scan quality isn’t as good as my dedicated art scanner, but as a document scanner, it’s been great. And since it’s a flatbed scanner with a document feeder, you can scan books and stuff with it, unlike the ScanSnap. So, for anyone who wants to scans documents, please consider the bargain options out there.

    • Chesterfield says:

      misterdna, I think the HP you mentioned is overpriced, even at $65. It’s perhaps an acceptable choice for someone who doesn’t scan very often. The hardware may be decent, but HP software is atrocious.

  14. Anonymous says:

    I got a scansnap in Jan. and have been happy ever since. I use it to scan in my textbooks (after cutting of the bindings with a table saw). Now I have all my books on my laptop, so much better than hauling around eight books everyday! I is amazingly fast! It is pricey but if you do a lot of scanning then it pays for itself in the long run.

  15. ThePope says:

    I just got a Fujitsu scansnap s300 a couple days ago, and am likewise thrilled with the hardware. I’ve been converting tons of paper into pdfs in the last few days. Only one thing irks me about this device: Fujitsu went to extra effort to make sure you couldn’t use it on both a windows and a mac. This is just stupid. The only difference between the two versions is the color of the plastic and a single code on chip that tells the usb host whether its the ‘mac’ or ‘windows’ version.

    I use both platforms, but I’m not going to buy two identical pieces of hardware. Fortunately thanks to the internet I have the windows version working perfectly on OSX and Win7. A very simple modification to their driver installer does the trick.

    Thanks for the hardware Fujitsu, can you design a machine that crushes the idiots who decided to try to split this device into two markets unnecessarily?

  16. shampton says:

    I’ve got the model before this one, and it is mostly awesome. However, if I have printout from my laser printer, it doesn’t feed right. I’ve experimented with a variety of papers, and it seems that “fresh” laser print paper just doesn’t work.

    Still – dropping a sheet into the feeder every 12 seconds may take a bit of preparation, but getting a front&back of a 47 page ISO document in a couple of minutes is great.

    Oh yeah, the OCR is pretty good too.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I also love mine. It is fast, accurate, feeds well and generates really tight PDF’s. The flip side of this story is how incredibly bad HP’s scanners (and especially their drivers) are.

  18. Anonymous says:

    I have been using a Fujitsu ScanSnap S300 for about a year and I absolutely love it.

    The autofeeder has a 10 sheet capacity, although you can get away with 12 pages. The scanner can do color, b&w, and duplex scanning. You can also OCR while you’re scanning.

    I use the scanner at work and home. I can easily carry it in my bag, since it weighs about 2-3 pounds. I would recommend this line of scanners for anyone in the legal or real estate fields.

    The scanner is a real time saver. I was using a Brother multifunction printer to scan 60-100 page documents and it would take me ages and jam frequently. With the Fujistu I get the same job done with no paper jams and in about 1/3 the time.

    You will have to replace a couple parts (roller) after you’ve scanned 10,000 pages. The only instance when I’ve had a paper jam with the Fujitsu scanner was when I scanned a document that contained some sheets of regular 8.5 x 11 paper, followed by legal sized paper. I believe it is a software issue, since I was using “auto detect” for the paper size.

  19. dainel says:

    The credit.com link goes to a site selling credit reports. I don’t see any hint of them selling hardware.

    • Chesterfield says:

      Dainel- You’re right – they don’t sell hardware but they do host reviews. Mark’s review of the scanner is at credit.com (follow the “Read review on CreditBloggers” link).

      He did provide a link to the hardware for sale at Amazon though.

  20. JG says:

    I’ve been wanting a realistic scanning solution for many years. Many years ago, with the old HP ScanJet’s, OCR simply wasn’t practical and was horrible at best. Tried OCR a few times on intermediate OfficeJet products. Always felt like a poor solution. Probably wouldn’t have purchased a S1500, but something about this review caused me to go look in detail at this device, and its reviews, and I made a bit of an impulse buy.

    It’s mostly great.

    1) We did get a smear on one of the glasses from some colored ink. This ruined a consecutive 20 pages or thereabouts. Easily fixed.

    2) It is (awful, wonderful) at coping with misscans. This kind of sucks but not due to any fault of the gadget. Stapled or folded documents are a problem. It will tend to crumple the document. This isn’t a design flaw, it’s just that it’s hard to page through everything you feed into it. The scanner driver is smart enough to stop and prompt, and the device is easily cleared.

    3) The bundled software (if you opt for it) is good but not great. It can be a little dorkus.

    The scanner is wicked fast. Our PC can’t keep up and do the OCR at the rate the scanner scans. Fortunately, the scanner is able to cope with 40 or 50 pages at a shot, so you set them in the tray, hit “scan it,” and just go away for about 10 minutes. Come back later, repeat.

    It’s hard to find fault with the device. Almost anything bad has more to do with the quality of the source documents (and I’ve done letters, statements, receipts, flyers, etc) than the design of the device. It’s clearly unreasonable to expect the device to handle stapled papers or ruined edges that stick two pages together.

    As someone who’s hated destroying physical records due to the loss of ability to refer back, I’d say that this poor scanner has a sad future ahead of it as it works its way through a bunch of banker’s boxes of old files. Suggest that you buy a good shredder to go with it.

    Worth $500? It is to us…

  21. hijukal says:

    We’re using Canon document scanners for my office of 120ish people. I bought one a few years ago, untested, and it went down so well we now have bordering on twenty of the suckers. More money than sense? Maybe, but damn they are useful.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I have the 1500M and I LOVE it.
    The OCR isn’t bad – but the amazing thing is it takes the guesswork out of the whole process. It can detect when I’ve put something upside down (and corrects it), has a function to de-skew if the paper goes in wonky, auto-detect colour vs. B&W, paper size detection, etc, etc.

    I find the OCR slows things down a bit, but who’s counting? I’m planning on cutting up my old textbooks and scanning them all, then opening them up in a PDF reader on my iPad (when I get round to buying one!). I can’t wait to be able to open my PDFs on the fly, and being able to search them!

    I’m one happy customer!

  23. Chesterfield says:

    Mark, after reading your article, I checked out Evernote and I’m really glad I did. Very cool, thanks. It reminds me a lot of some of the PIM products that were around in the 90′s (PackRat, Ecco Pro, etc…). Yeah – some of those are still around, but it isn’t the hot software category that it once was.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Good recommendation, it made me want one until I saw the price. If I had the money I’d go for it. A second kudos on the tip for the evernote software, that looks very nice, and I’ll have to check it out.

    Did you take the photo of the scanner with the Hipstamatic camera app?

  25. Anonymous says:

    I wonder about people who put up with slow hardware.

    Especially with something like a scanner where you have to nurse it yourself.

    What is your time worth?

  26. ROSSINDETROIT says:

    I use an HP all-in-one most of the time. It scans very slowly and yes, the software is pathetic. It works best when I open a graphics package like PSP and Import an image from the scanner into it. then I can fool around with the image and put in where I want it instead of accepting the HP software’s default scan vault and fishing it out later.

  27. Anonymous says:

    I have the Scansnap S510M and think it is amazing. The only thing is when I scan to pdf and need to stop to add more pages the scanner thinks I scanning in a separate document whereas I want to add in the other page to the same document. How do I do this. It seems that once you have no documents in the scanner it will stop and additional documents will not be added to the intial scan.

    any help would be greatly appreciated.

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