Well, the ScanSnap SV600 is certainly different than any other ScanSnap that I’ve experienced. A question that I get all the time is this: “What’s the best way to scan books, magazines, or other things that won’t fit in a document feeder?”
I’ve never had a satisfactory answer to that question until now. Fujitsu hooked me up with a review unit, and I’ve been putting it through its paces.
Don’t Call It A Book Scanner
The SV600 can scan books – there is absolutely no doubt about that. It has both hardware and software features to make scanning books and magazines easy and accurate, but it can scan any document that you either can’t or wouldn’t want to put through a scanner with an Automated Document Feeder.
I am confident that this will be the only scanner review that you read today that features Captain Underpants.
You don’t need to stop at documents. It can scan 3D objects as well. Just for fun, I decided to scan a “screamin’ green” crayon that was inexplicably on my office floor.
Fujitsu’s specifications say that it will scan books or objects up to 30mm in height. From what I understand, that limit is primarily to ensure quality OCR. It will still scan “taller” items.
Size-wise, it will scan items up to A3 size, which for us North Americans is 11.7×16.5".
The ScanSnap SV600 has a vertical design. All the controls are on the base, but all the action takes place in the head.
The way it works is interesting. Instead of having the scanning part hang over the paper causing shadows and flash burn, the head sweeps forward and does some crazy depth of field calculations to adjust for the angle, height and curves of the page.
On the base there is the familiar blue Scan button, but it can be pressed from both sides. There is also a Stop button that will signal the end of automatic page turning (more on that in a second).
The device feels very sturdy and heavy, which is what you want from a vertical scanner. If you are nervous about it getting knocked over, it comes with optional braces with a slightly sticky bottom to hold it down.
Speed-wise, this thing is fast. You don’t need to go get a coffee while waiting for a page to scan like with most flatbeds. It takes 3 seconds to sweep a full A3-sized page. Combine that with some of the auto-scanning features outlined below, and you can rip through a book very quickly.
Windows Only… For Now I’m looking forward to the day that I can erase this paragraph, but at launch the ScanSnap SV600 is only for Windows. Sorry Mac users. I am told that the Mac version is coming “soon”, but don’t have any information on what that means.
Update 11/07/2013: The SV600 is now cross-platform for Mac and Windows. The Mac software can be downloaded from Fujitsu.
Software-wise, it comes with an enhanced version of Rack2-Filer with Magic Desktop, and a full version of Adobe Acrobat XI Standard.
Scanning Books And Magazines
Whenever a reader asked about book scanning in the past, I’ve had to point them to machines with mixed reviews, machines that cost thousands of dollars, the old chop n’ scan, or a DIY solution. None of the options were great.
You can tell that Fujitsu had book scanning in mind from the outset when they developed the SV600.
When you scan using the SV600, it will ask you whether you are scanning a book or scanning documents.
Most people will choose book and hit Save and keep going, and will generally get great results. If you want, you can hit Check/Correct and you can fine-tune the scan.
If you go into the file-tuning mode, you can control how the book is cropped, how the edges are detected, and where the page break is. You can also control whether the scan has both pages together, or has one PDF page for each book page. By the way, that edge detection was automatic. I didn’t have to do anything.
Here is an example of the resulting PDF. The quality is quite good considering the angles of the pages, and the OCR is very good. Even my underlining didn’t mess things up.
Here is an example of a graphic novel. I didn’t do any adjusting of those colors. It is the default settings.
You know how when you are scanning or taking a picture of a book, you sometimes need to hold down the pages to stop them from flipping up?
If you hate the thought of having your fingers co-starring in every image, you can remove them.
For example, on this page I have clicked on my fingertips and it automatically selected them.
Then when I hit Apply, they are gone. Completely bananas.
Auto Page Turning
Having to turn the page and hit Scan every single time doesn’t sound very fun, so there is an optional automatic page turning detection setting. It is easier to show you this than describe it, so here is a video of it in action:
This works pretty well, but occasionally it did not detect my page turn for whatever reason. When that happened, I just hit Scan again.
If you want, you can also set it to scan every x seconds to speed things up a bit.
Multiple Document Detection
At the beginning of this post, I said that the SV600 was not just a book scanner, and here is another example. It can detect multiple pieces of paper and detect that they should be multiple documents.
I laid out a bookmark, two business cards, and a cloth art project that has thick buttons on the front. This video shows the scanning and resulting PDFs.
About That Mat
The SV600 comes with a large soft black mat. It shows the placement for best results, and has a consistent black background.
I asked Fujitsu if the mat was required. They said no, it works without it, but that you will get the best experience with auto-detection etc. with the mat. If you have the space, I say use it.
It’s A ScanSnap
Even though the form factor is completely different, at the end of the day, this is a ScanSnap. If you are familiar with using any of the other models like the ScanSnap iX500, the ScanSnap S1300i, or the ScanSnap S1100, the workflow will be similar.
There is the Quick Menu, and most things can be automated using ScanSnap Manager Profiles just like any other model. The OCR is the bundled version of ABBYY FineReader, and you can send the resulting scans to Acrobat or any other application.
I have to admit, the SV600 is the most fun I’ve had with a scanner. I was late for a meeting because I was engrossed with erasing my finger
Fun aside, I can see this having a wide range of uses, especially in a business setting. If you are mainly scanning documents, you will of course want to use a dedicated document scanner, but if you regularly need to scan things that won’t fit into a document feeder, this could be the solution you’ve been looking for.
The ScanSnap SV600 lists for $795, and
as usual I will keep my eye on the various online sites to see when it is available in the wild it has popped up on Amazon. In the meantime, if you have any questions, fire away in the comments.