If there is one thing I am happy about in 2013, it is that I don’t have to answer the question “When is Fujitsu coming out with a replacement for the ScanSnap S1500?” anymore. That is because today they have announced the ScanSnap iX500, their new desktop document scanner.
Fujitsu hooked me up with a review unit, so let’s check it out.
One iX500 To Rule Them All
Like their last two scanners, the personal S1300i and the portable S1100, Fujitsu has done away with the separate Mac and Windows models. There is now just one black model that works on both Windows and the Mac.
This simplifies things greatly for those that are trying to decide which model to get, but it does have some software implications that I will get into below.
The first difference between the iX500 and its predecessors is speed. It scans at 25 pages per minute, as opposed to the S1500’s 20ppm and the S1300i’s 12ppm.
They’ve moved much of the processing to a new chip that they call the GI Processor, and most importantly (for me, anyways), they’ve moved OCR processing to a parallel process which means it starts while the scanning is occurring. This means no more long waits for documents to be made searchable after you finish scanning.
I’ve scanned large-ish documents and having been in the ScanSnap ecosystem since 2008 (using the S300M, S1300, and S1300i), I was in shock how fast both the scanning and processing was.
More on OCR in a bit.
This is the feature of the ScanSnap iX500 that is probably going to get the most press.
You have been able to use your ScanSnap with the ScanSnap Connect mobile app for quite some time, but it was indirect – the scanner needed to be plugged in to your computer, and your computer was the one doing the communicating.
The iX500 has a Wi-Fi chip built-in (the aforementioned GI Processor), and can communicate directly with an iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch, or Android device.
There is a Wi-Fi switch at the back of the scanner, and there is a light at the front of the scanner that lets you know when you are connected.
When you install the ScanSnap software on your computer, it asks you if you want to set the iX500 up on your wireless network, and steps you through getting it set up. Once you’ve done that, you can totally cut the computer out of the equation.
I made a video that shows how it works. The video shows scanning to an iPad, but it is the same deal with any other iOS or Android device. Click here to watch it on YouTube.
As it stands right now, wi-fi scanning only works scanning to an iOS or Android device. It would be cool if they made it so that you could scan to a computer too, but that is not how it works right now.
Update 07/30/2013: The iX500 now supports wi-fi scanning to a Mac or Windows computer!
As I mentioned earlier, the ScanSnap iX500 ships with software that makes OCR much faster. However, for Mac users, there is an extra enhancement.
Windows users have always been able to have background OCR using ScanSnap Organizer. You could scan to the Organizer software and let it do its thing while you keep scanning or working.
Since ScanSnap Organizer is Windows only, Mac users have been out of luck unless we did some wacky background OCR hacks.
The iX500 ships with the Mac Searchable PDF Converter. I’ll have another post about that as I play with it, but basically it does what the name says: it lets you scan to a folder and have OCR run in the background when the computer is idle.
The iX500 comes with some some software enhancements and some (cough) changes.
Enhanced Quick Menu
I am not personally a Quick Menu user, but it is definitely helpful for newer or less tech-savvy users. The first change they made is to make the Quick Menu try to detect what type of document you are scanning. For example, I threw in a business card and it helpfully suggested CardMinder.
You can also control the order that Quick Menu entries appear in, and you can now add your own applications to the Quick Menu which is pretty cool. Hit the gear icon to do this.
CardMinder for Mac
Speaking of CardMinder, the Mac version of CardMinder is now the business card application that ships with the iX500. I don’t have much to say about this as I am not a big bizcard guy. If you’d like me to do a post about this and dig in further, leave a note in the comments.
The ScanSnap iX500 comes with the following software:
- ScanSnap Organizer (Windows)
- CardMinder (Windows, Mac)
- ABBYY FineReader for ScanSnap (Windows, Mac)
- Acrobat X Standard (Windows)
- ABBYY FineReader Express (Mac)
It also comes with the cloud scanning abilities that have been added to the ScanSnap line over the past few years: Scan To Evernote, Dropbox, SugarSync, Google Docs, Sharepoint, etc.
Perceptive Mac readers will notice something right away: the ScanSnap iX500 does not ship with a Mac version of Adobe Acrobat. I always wondered how Fujitsu would handle this when they inevitably moved to a hybrid desktop ScanSnap, and now we know.
I can definitely see some Mac users getting cranky about this, so it will be interesting to see what the reaction will be. The line with the desktop ScanSnaps was always “Sure they are a bit expensive, but they come with a full version of Acrobat. That’s $300 right there!” Now for Mac users at least, that is no longer true.
If you are a Mac user and want something Acrobat-y for much less money, you might want to check out PDFPen.
In addition to the speed and wireless scanning enhancements, Fujitsu has made some improvements to paper handling with the ScanSnap iX500.
They’ve replaced the pad assembly with brake rollers. Apparently this is something they brought in from the higher-level scanners. I certainly didn’t have any paper feed issues in my tests.
They also made it so that the ScanSnap can handle heavier paper and even plastic cards. I threw in my REI card and it fed it through easily.
There is a new setting for bleed through detection, if you have paper that might be susceptible to that sort of thing.
So far, I don’t see the ScanSnap iX500 on any of the online shopping sites, but I will update it when it is available. The suggested retail price is $495.
It looks like the iX500 is showing up on Amazon now. At the time of writing this it doesn’t have a picture yet, but it is sold by Amazon, so it seems to be legit.
Like all ScanSnaps, the iX500 does not support TWAIN, so if you think you need it, give the ScanSnap Folder functionality a look. If that still does not meet your needs, you will probably need to look elsewhere.
However, if you’ve been holding out for an S1500 replacement, now you have one. This is the fastest consumer level ScanSnap they’ve released, and the wireless scanning works well. They’ve added features while still making it fast and easy to use. I really like it.
Or more accurately, not answer since I had no idea. ↩