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Paper goes in, PDFs or JPEGs come out.
Conquering stacks of paper in mere seconds, the ScanSnap S500M’s specialty is document scans done easy. You can get a flatbed scanner to do the same job at a fraction of the cost, but you’ll also spend a lot of time twiddling your thumbs as that flatbed scanner chugs through your document.
The S500M bears a resemblance to an old-school fax machine. It operates like one, too. To digitize paper, you simply drop your docs in the paper chute. Two CCD image sensors capture text and images. The ScanSnap Manager software then transposes the image data, seamlessly converts it into a PDF file (or a JPEG file, in color mode only), and saves the file to your hard drive.
The scanner’s ease of use is matched only by its efficiency. At 150 dpi, the S500M can scan 20 single-sided pages per minute. That’s nearly 20 percent faster than its predecessor, the ScanSnap fi-5110EOXM (4 out of 5 stars, Feb/06, p53). Thanks to the dual-image sensors, the S500M can almost keep up its pace when faced with two-sided pages. The image sensors simultaneously capture text and images from both sides of a page in a single pass. At maximum resolution, scanning 10 single-sided pages took 5 minutes, while 10 double-sided pages took 8 minutes, 45 seconds.
The S500M automatically detects and omits blank pages from final PDFs and can straighten crooked images without any human intervention. It supports a variety of paper stocks and sizes. And while the paper chute holds up to 50 pages,
we found the S500M prone to paper jams. With a little practice, however, you can time it just right to drop in one page at time for a simple workaround.
The S500M’s photo scans aren’t in the same league as a flatbed scanner’s, but it’s suitable for producing For Position Only (FPO) quality files.
The bottom line. It’s expensive, but the ScanSnap S550M quickly transforms your paper mountains into digital molehills.
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.2.8 or later, USB
Scans documents directly to PDF quickly and easily. Faster than its predecessor.
Pricey. Doesn’t handle image scans well.