Review: Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M

A scanner that fits the bill and your pocket with its bundled software (February 5th, 2008)

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Product Manufacturer: Fujitsu

Price: $495.00 US

The Good

  • Does exactly what it is designed to do. Exceeds expectations.

The Bad

  • None

There are some basic assumptions that we all make when it comes to scanners: Scanners are horrible; they take up lots of desk space; and they're slow. Document feeder scanners are subject to paper jams, and really, people use them mostly for pictures, because optical character recognition (OCR) doesn't work well. The Fujitsu ScanSnap S510M seems to be the one exception to all these negative assumptions and breaks the mold.

Good Things in Small Packages

It is a small scanner, about the size of a loaf of bread (11.2 in. × 6.2 in. × 6.2 in.), and weighs only 5.9 lb. The paper feeder can hold 50 sheets and it can scan a variety of paper sizes, including 8.5 x 14.17-inches (216 x 360 mm) down to 2 x 2-inches (50.8 x 50.8 mm). At best, the ScanSnap can scan color documents at 600dpi, black and white at 1,200dpi, and Duplex at 0.6 pages per minute to 1.2 images per minute.

Scanner in Use

Primarily, I scanned documents, including receipts and business cards. ABBYY FineReader performs optical character recognition on the documents, including the business cards.

This is a great solution to a sticky business problem. How does the traveler do expense reports without carrying around a stack of receipts? How does that person handle the thousands of business cards collected over the course of a Macworld show? Now, you can just ScanSnap them be rid of the paper.

While the ScanSnap S510M can clearly scan photographs, the paper feed path isn't completely straight, so you really do not want to use it for treasured pictures. A flatbed scanner with a higher scanning resolution is more suitable.

Included software sweetens the deal

Fujitsu has seen the wisdom of including software that reflects their intention for the primary use of the scanner. The scanner comes with Adobe Acrobat 8 Professional, which sells separately for more than $400, and ABYY FineReader for ScanSnaptm 3.0 Mac Edition. This OCR program sells for around $180 for Windows only and is not available as a stand-alone product for the Mac. This makes the retail price of the scanner a much better value than other scanner bundles.

If you don't like the included software, Fujitsu offers a mail-in rebate to receive free copies of Readiris Pro version 11 and Cardiris 3.5 software from the I.R.I.S. Group.

The ScanSnap S510M scanner makes PDF or TIFF documents, and through the use of ABYY FineReader, can make searchable PDF files. The nice thing is, any completed scans that were not passed through ABYY and made searchable can be dragged to the ABYY icon in the dock when the application is running and it makes them searchable. There is something about the creation of a PDF file by the ScanSnap that marks a PDF file so that you can use it with FineReader. Other PDF documents that I dragged into FineReader were refused, because they had not been created by the ScanSnap.

Even so, the abilities this gives the scanner make it very, very useful. I can scan a variety of documents, make them searchable, organize them by save location, date, or any other criteria, and search them with Spotlight.

Too Good To Leave Behind

I was highly tempted to pack this scanner in my suitcase and take it with me on my last trip. I was willing to do this knowing that it weighs 6 pounds, and knowing the space that it takes up. It is just that great of a scanner. It's fast, it's good, and it is very useful. Although you can purchase a carry bag separately from the site, a portable model is a better solution. Just such a beast is in the works and when it is available, you can be sure I will let you know how that works too. In the meantime, the ScanSnap S510M does everything it sets out to do. It works. It works well.

by Victor Marks and Ilene Hoffman


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