sunday, 31 january 2010 10:12
I recently purchased a professional scanner after years of struggling with cheaper scanners.  My first scanner back in 1997 was an EasyPhoto Reader which just scanned photos up to about 4 inches wide. I also had flat bed scanners, the latest which is a Canon LiDE 20 that my wife still uses.  Three years ago, I bought an HP PhotoSmart All-in-One printer with scanner, copier and FAX built in.  That has both a flat bed and an automatic document feeder, ADF.  It scans well for one side of paper through the ADF, but not for photos.  Photos need to be placed on the flat bed.  Multiple photos can be placed and the software is supposed to separate the scans for each.  But that requires two steps, one to review the prescan and photo detection, and typically a second step to correct the identification.  
Last year I purchased a portable IRIScan 2 scanner that required a feeding each page or photo separately. Big problems was with color scanning since it blotched out portions of a photo.  It worked ok for text pages and did OCR with the included ReadIris software.  It also had a mode for business cards that worked pretty good using the CardIris software to OCR text, recognize fields and produce a vCard output. 
After seeing a promotion from Mariner Software for their Paperless software package that included a Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M scanner.  I investigated further and in early January 2010, purchased both separately and saved about $60 overall.  List price on the scanner is about $500 but I got it for $404 through Amazon.  This scanner comes bundled with Adobe Acrobat 8.0 Pro for the Macintosh as well as CardIris and ABBYY FineReader.  A version of this scanner for the PC includes Acrobat 9, but not the Pro version.  CardIris allows scanning of business cards, recognizing fields and outputs to VCF format files that can be imported into most address book applications.  FineReader is integrated to automatically convert scanned documents to PDF and recognize text.
The scanner feeds paper at about 20 pages per minute.  The ADF hopper holds about 50 pages, but I have scanned 60 pages at one time.  It scans both sides of a page and intelligently determines whether anything is on the second page.  It automatically orients a page and is accurate most of the time.   Note that as fast as this scanner is, I find that most of my time is loading paper, waiting for the text recognition or entering descriptive titles about the documents.  For the text recognition, a fastest processor is beneficial.  For multiple sections from one large collection, I can enter a title that is incremented with a 1 to 3 digit number.
I can put photos of various sizes in the ADF together and it determines what the size is.  Direct input to the Mac's iPhoto app is available.  I separate photos by size, orientation and whether there is writing or dates on the back.  The ones without writing, I scan in simplex mode, one side only.  The ones with writing, I scan both sides to capture the information in iPhoto where I can type it in later to identify .
The ScanSnap Manager has six options for output.  I can save the scans to a file for which I can define an incremented name or accept a time-date stamp for the file name.  I can also have scans sent through to email or just print out like a copy machine.  It will also output direct to MicroSoft Word or Excel.  The final output is for CardIris discussed above.
So far I have scanned about 1000 photos and 11000 pages.  I am on a mission to get rid of paper and have filled 4 recycling bins so far.  The scanner has a consumables menu which displays the total number of pages scanned and has counters that can be reset for the pad assembly and the pick roller.  The pad assembly should be replaced every 50,000 pages and the pick roller every 100,000.  So far, the scanner is working great.  My biggest problem is with pages sticking together due to holes from staples or ring binders.