Most helpful positive review
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Fast, intuitive document scanner
on 24 September 2011
This is a document scanner primarily aimed at small office/home use for storing papers in electronic format. It might not sound like a particularly exciting device but it is remarkably good as what it does. It will scan loose paper documents very quickly indeed - up to around 20 pages a minute. The scanner is adept at separating each page to be scanned thus preventing paper jams. It auto-adjusts for the size of the page and will scan both sides of a page at once. Indeed it auto-detects if a sheet of paper to be scanned has text/images of both sides. If it doesn't it will only scan the size with information on it. Using a rather clever feeder pouch it is able to scan a folded document twice the size of a standard A4 page and then join the images together.
The scanner can scan in grayscale and colour up to 600 dots per inch, and up to 1,200 dpi in black/white. Bundled with the scanner is scanning software which allows the user to select a variety of scanner settings such as colour mode, dots per inch, single or duplex scanning and more. Linked to the software is Abbyy FineReader allowing searchable PDFs to be created using some of the latest optical character recognition software. Also the scanner comes with Adobe Acrobat 8.
The scanner is operated by a single blue scan button. You simply press this to start scanning when you've placed one or more pages - up to a maximum of 50 - into the paper hopper. SnapScan starts automatically, scans the pages, and asks you what you want to do with the images. Options include saving them to a directory on the computer hard disk - thus creating the equivalent to an electronic filing cabinate, printing the scans - acting like a photocopier, importing the OCR'd content into Word or Excel, importing business cards via OCR'ing into Cardris - which means that business card details can be parsed to your address book, or to iPhoto.
Whilst the 1500M (the M presumably standing for Mac) is specifically designed for Mac users it also comes with Windows compatible software. Physically, the Windows version of the scanner seems to be exactly the same except it is made of black plastic and the 1500M is white.
In terms of downsides to the scanner, I guess it's pretty expensive. This is not a flatbed scanner so you can't scan anything that's bound. Pages need to be placed upside down face down - a little irritating and since the scanner can re-orientate scans and scans in duplex presumably a software rather than hardware issue. Once you've installed the software - both the scanning software and Adobe - you'll need to perform software updates. Adobe told me that an update was available. The scanner software didn't - I manually checked for an update. Whilst the scanner is intuitive, printed instructions are really sparse and are mainly concerned with connecting the scanner to your computer and installing the relevant software. There's a much more comprensive user handbook on one of the installation CDs. I think it would be useful for at least part of this to come in paper form in the box with the scanner. FineReader only works with the scanner so you can't use it independently. Acrobat is a full standalone product though. Also, if you go for OCR'ing this slows the processing of scans significantly but that's always an issue when turning an image of text into a machine readable form. Finally, the Mac software is not a comprehensive an offering compared to the Windows version.
Five star elements are the speed of scanning, duplex scanning, auto detection of whether the document is in colour or black and white, auto-page-size detection, an amazing ability to avoid paper jams, and brilliant detection of whether two pages have passed through the scanner stuck together thus meaning you won't have scanned all the pages in the hopper. It also looks pretty smart for a scanner, and more important, it takes up very little space.
If you're surrounded by a sea of paper and can't find key documents the 1500M is for you as long as you're prepared to pay for it or begin the major task of scanning all your old papers. If you go down the paper free road shredding the documents you've scanned, make sure your have a robust procedure for backing up your computer's hard disk. A HD failure and its all gone!