ScanSnap S1500M will get you on your way to a paperless office
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ScanSnap S1500M will get you on your way to a paperless office

If you're striving for a paperless office, Fujitsu's ( US$495 ScanSnap S1500M for the Mac is a product you should add to your must-buy list. The scanner transfers paper docs into digital docs without having to adjust scanner settings -- and is a breeze to use.

The S1500M's new intelligent paper feed detection, which is based on ultrasonic technology, senses multi-feeds. With a new automatic image quality adjustment feature, the ScanSnap evaluates the document size and adjusts the resolution accordingly, as well as identifies a document as color, black & white and now grayscale.

The set-up is a little confusing. After installing the software, I tried launching ScanSnap Manager and got this message: "[Profile] is disabled while the Quick menu is in use." Also, I was told to "load test documents," but I couldn't find any; evidently, you provide your own docs for set-up.

Here's how it works: From the ScanSnap Manager menu, select Settings. Most users will simple choose the [Use Quick Menu] checkbox. You'll choose a Profile setting -- Recommended, Small File, High Quality and Customize -- based on your preferences. By default, the Recommended button is selected. Its settings are Auto for image quality and default for other settings. It's recommended to select this button when you want a high-quality scan of standard documents, and a higher quality scan of business cards, requiring a high level of text recognition.

Also, you can't change the settings for the Recommended, Small File, and High Quality buttons. When you change the scanning settings, the button automatically switches to the Customize button.

Once set up, the scanner automatically adjusts the settings for each page so that you don't have to. It touts scanning speeds of up to 20 pages per minute (ppm) or 40 images per minute (ipm). With the newly designed ScanSnap Manager and Quick Menu, users can choose to scan documents directly to e-mail, save scans to selectable folders, send scans directly to a printer, or to an application bundled with ScanSnap.

The maximum number of sheets that can be loaded on the ScanSnap depends on the type of document you're scanning. If you try to scan more sheets that can be loaded, a file may be improperly created due to an excessive file size or a paper jam or other irregular feeding may occur. To prevent paper jams, hold the document with both hands and fan it out as shown in the figure below.

Supporting Mac OS X 10.4 and higher, the S1500M comes bundled with Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional and Cardiris Business Card software. The software transforms business cards into editable information and can be saved to text, HTML and vCard formats, or exported to other contact managers. The ScanSnap Manager for Mac adds a new auto keyword feature that converts highlighted text into searchable PDF keywords using a standard highlighter pen.

The ScanSnap can scan paper documents, receipts, bills, invoices and business cards. It's the latter feature I find especially useful after I've returned from a business trip -- for example, the Mcworld Expo, at which I collect roughly a bazillion business cards.

Without the ScanSnap S1500M, I'd have to manually enter the data into Address Book or carry the cards home for scanning. Now I can simply scan 'em in with the ScanSnap using Cardiris software. One caveat: Cardiris works well most of the time, but I find myself having to make manual corrections with about 20 percent of the cards I scan into the Mac OS X Address Book.

I've also been pleasantly surprised at how well the ScanSnap S1500M handles photos. It's not a high end photo scanner, but it's been more than satisfactory for moving old family photos into iPhoto.

In fact, when you scan a document ScanSnap Manager provides a window that lets you choose which app you wish to use for the scanning (iPhoto, Acrobat, Cardiris, etc.).

The SnapScan is a great tool for anyone who wants to routinely store documents digitally. It's a breeze to use and, with Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional is a solid bargain.

Rating: 9 out of 10

-- Dennis Sellers

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