ScanSnap iX500: a great scanner gets even better

For the last several years I've been using a Fujitsu S1500 ScanSnap scanner to digitaly store all my paper documents. As I've said before, the ScanSnap truly was a life changer for me. I had no idea that a sheetfed scanner could be so convenient, fast, and reliable. It accepts up to 50 sheets of paper, scans both sides, performs optical character recognition on the text, and uploads the records to Evernote (or other cloud service such as SugarSync, Google Docs, or Dropbox). It automatically detects if the document is in color, and determines the page size and orientation. It discards blank pages. It also has an ultrasonic sensor that can detect and warn you if more than one sheet goes through the scanner at the same time.

At CES this year Fujitsu announced its newest model, the ScanSnap iX500. Fujitsu sent me an evaluation unit, and I'm impressed with the improvements on a product I already loved. The iX500 represents the sixth generation of the ScanSnap line and it's as close to being a perfect scanner as I can imagine.

The first improvement is speed. I was perfectly happy with the S1500's 20 double-sided pages per minute (PPM) rate. AT 25 PPM the iX500 is 25% faster, but the most notable difference is the vastly reduced latency between the new model and the earlier one. When you press the scan button the paper almost immediately goes through the scanner. The previous model had a slight delay between each sheet of paper, but this one has no discernible delay. The pages whip through without pause.

One of the major enhancements to the iX500 is its much-touted wireless conductivity. You can now scan a document by installing an app on your iOS or Android device and touching the scan icon on the device's display. The ScanSnap will convert the document to a PDF or JPEG that goes directly to your iOS or Android mobile device, even if your computer is turned off. I can't say that I will use this feature frequently, but it may come in handy if I need to scan something and run out the door with it on my mobile device.

The iX500 also has a new feeding and paper separation system that was originally developed for Fujitsu's high-end industrial scanners. It has two gripper wheels instead of one, and from my experience so far, papers seem to go through more smoothly, and I have not yet encountered a paper jam.

At $420, the iX500 doesn't come cheap. But when I think of how much time I've saved by not having to file and look for paper documents, it's a great deal.

ScanSnap iX500


  1. You don’t have to still file and search for documents albeit digitally? How does it organise all this information for you?

    1. If he’s dumping to Evernote as implied, Evernote will OCR PDF scans and images. You can then just search on them instead filing. And digital searching way easier/faster than by hand.

  2. You are so right Mark. As I have to retype this a third time because both Firefox and Chrome crashed trying to post my comment, I’m reminded that few things are as truly amazing as this scanner. 

    When I went to buy a scanner, I was looking at the Neato system. They have a really solid ad campaign. Then a friend mentioned the ScanSnap 1500m and pointed out how much better the reviews were. Mostly 4 and 5 star where the Neato was averaging 2 or 3. 

    The ScanSnap had way better reviews but I was far less familiar with it. They have more visibility now. It is SO GREAT to be able to find a receipt just by entering a keyword in my search bar. And, I have exceeded the 50 sheet capacity on several occasions. How often does a product actually over-achieve?!? Rare these days. 

    I’ve had mine for nearly 2 years and never had one single problem. It’s one of the few things I go out of my way to tell people about and one of the things I would be saddest to be without. I am so frickin’ organized now thanks to this fella. And as you mention, I scan directly to Dropbox so everything is backed up all in one shot. Great time saver.

    The only reason not to get one is if you really need a flatbed for large format or super high resolution. Other than that, this should be the first choice for anyone. Very glad to see you write about it. But based on what you mentioned with the new model, I might just have to upgrade and have an extra for the office. Sounds amazing. 

    1. The prior version S1500 did photos fine. I was able to load up several albums about 10-12 photos at a time. The quality wasn’t stupendous, but it was fine to digitize several albums for facebook and flickr.

    2. I set up a high-quality custom scan profile to use the maximum resolution of the scanner for photos. Not as good as a good flatbed scanner, but fine for my purposes and a lot more convenient.

  3. I love the mobile phone integration idea.  A lot of devices like that have very minimal UI (if any) and this gives it a nice fancy control panel.

  4. Yes, been using ScanSnap for years and it transformed me from a person living amongst piles of paper to a person who refuses anything on paper.

  5. I’m also a big fan.  I don’t see the wireless bit as a big deal.  I’ll most always have the Mac on next to it and the scan to iPhone already works fine for me.  Starting by phone not a biggie either as you need to be there to put the docs in.

  6. What are the differences between the regular and deluxe models? And what does the NMS models include?

    Is it possible to scan directly to evernote, without using a smartphone or a computer?

  7. How much post processing and double checking of the scan/OCR is required?  Is it pretty much scan and forget or do I need to go through each scanned page and make sure things turned out ok?

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