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Epson WorkForce vs Fujitsu Scansnap - tried both in same week
on July 7, 2012
I've tried them both (Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S50 and Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500) and the winner is Fujitsu ScanSnap. In short, the reason is bad Epson software and horrendously, awful, incompetent support from Epson, while Fujitsu gets it right in both categories. Here are the details...
I've owned 2 ScanSnap scanners. When one of my older ones started acting up (not detecting paper), and when Fujitsu wanted roughly $200 to "repair" it (which probably consisted of putting in a new $10 plastic paper feed detector that a customer can't do themselves), I thought I'd try another brand. So I started out in my quest with the goal of finding something better than ScanSnap. I WANTED to love something else. I searched, read other reviews, and tried the Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S50.
The Epson is definitely more solid, although larger, than the ScanSnap. I was pleased with the large feed capacity on the Epson. It also has an LCD screen, where you can create macros (e.g. B&W scan at 300 dpi). So far so good. I was liking it on my first couple one-page tests. But here's where things went wrong...
Maybe I'm the only person in the world who wants to quickly scan, enter the folder and file name of my choice, and save to a PDF. Guess what? You can't do that with the Epson. I was shocked. It seems like that would be the most common task a user would want to perform. You have to scan to a pre-set folder (you can define it), using their default filename (something like img001.pdf or the mmddyyyy-hhmmss.pdf) and then rename it using Windows. I thought I must be missing something and I called tech support. More on that below...
With the Epson, I tried something I had done for years with the Fujitsu -- automatic color detection. With ScanSnap, including their new S1500, it CAN automatically detect any color on the page and then scan ONLY that page in color while leaving the other pages in B&W. But, with the Epson, there are 2 methods of scanning. With one method, there is NO automatic color detection. With the other method, it will scan all pages in color mode even if only 1 page has color. This causes unnecessary increase in file size.
I also noticed that the quality of scan wasn't as good with the Epson as with the ScanSnap. The Epson sometimes showed black edges around the piece of paper. If you print it out, you see the black edges, which looks dumb. And, the image appears fuzzy with the Epson, but more clear with the ScanSnap. Of course, anyone reading this will think I just didn't play with the settings, and it is possible I missed something. But, I tried all kinds of setting combinations and the Epson just didn't produce as good of a scan result as the Fujitsu, and even if you can improve it in a way I didn't try, the average user shouldn't have to do that; Scansnap was simply better.
I also had problems with the Epson pulling pages into the scanner at a slight angle. Now, I don't think either scanner is perfect at pulling in pages. I've replaced rollers and assemblies with ScanSnap to avoid the occasional double feed, and I wouldn't say they are perfect by any means. But, when I was hoping Epson would have a better feeding system, I was disappointed to see that it was pulling at an angle -- something I don't get with ScanSnap.
Then, the big problem for me was that the Epson software had a bug and would not scan >1 page into a single PDF file. Yeah, yeah, I know there is a setting about making a single PDF file with multiple pages, and I did have it set correctly. But, it didn't work when using their software utility for scanning. If I scanned 10 pages, only the first one showed in the PDF file. I already had Acrobat Professional installed, and I think that caused some driver problem, although it shouldn't have. The rest of my setup is a brand new Windows 7 clean machine. Other people don't seem to have this issue, but the scanner was worthless to me if I couldn't get Epson's help resolving the bug. So I called tech support, and that is when things went from bad to worse.
Tech support at Epson: I dealt with a level 1 tech support rep who asked me 101 unrelated questions, only to leave me on hold and never come back to the phone. I called back. The profile the first rep created was missing so they asked me 101 questions again. This person knew nothing about their product. I am not just being critical. He really didn't know how to perform a scan or anything. I had used the product for 2 hours and I knew far more about it than he did. I got bumped to level 2 support. I asked this next person if there was a way to scan, and type in the filename instead of using their default numeric names. He said no. I said "don't you do that when you scan papers at home?" He said he doesn't use a scanner at home. Hmmmm. The guys who are in charge of this product don't USE scanners so, of course, it shouldn't be a surprise to me that the software is so dumb. As for my "can't scan >1 page" issue, I had to get escalated again. My level 3 tech said I needed to hold on while he installed the softare! I said "you don't already have it installed?" He said he doesn't use this model scanner. Really? The level 3 rep hadn't used the software or hardware before? It was frustrating but comical. Level 3 didn't know how to solve the >1 page problem, so they said level 4 would have to help. How many levels were there? I was told level 4 would have to call me back within 24 hours. Well, no one called. 10 days later, I received an email (with my name typed incorrectly). It stated "Recently you requested personal assistance from our on-line support center. Below is a summary of your request and our response. If this issue is not resolved to your satisfaction, you may reopen it within the next 7 days. Thank you for allowing us to be of service to you." What service? They never called. The rest of the email was a generalized summary about how to perform a basic scan. They could care less about my problem of not being able to scan >1 page. So level 4 apparently doesn't know anything more than the basics either, but even worse, they don't care that a customer is still stuck unable to scan multiple pages. On a side note, even the basic email confirmed my belief that you can't type in your own filename when doing a quick scan. The email stated "In the Filename field you can change the Prefix part of the filename only. For example, if you enter Test, the filename will be Test001.pdf."
I had no choice but to send back the Epson and buy the ScanSnap S1500. Remember, I was trying NOT to give ScanSnap my money after their high price for a repair. But, I'm glad I did. Their newest software is fantastic. These guys must use their product because the software is very smart. There is a great demo video on YouTube that you should see. (By the way, there is no decent video published by Epson on YouTube.) It certainly lets you name a file anything you want at the time of scanning. These guys even came up with a neat feature that if you highlight a word with a yellow highlighter, it will use OCR and add that word to the metadata saved with the PDF file.
If I didn't tell you which scanner hardware was hiding behind each scanner, and I just asked you to rate the software experience with each software package, I'm confident you'd easily say the ScanSnap had the better software. Better yet, it does what you want (naming a file!!!!, only using color for the color pages, etc.) and more. It doesn't have the LCD screen, but the purpose of that (macros) is resolved by a software popup on the Fujitsu ScanSnap anyway. The ScanSnap software asks you what you want to do with the file and even lets you create profiles via software.
Now I called Fujitsu because I was stuck with a few things using their software. To my amazement, the first person who answered the phone (without a delay) did NOT ask me 101 questions to create a profile. He just started right in with helping me. He knew the product extremely well, answered my questions immediately, and was a technical person. I was on and off the call with 100% of my questions answered. I even called back another time for a follow-up question and that person was equally good.
I should note for people new to scanners that the pages/minute option for any scanner is deceiving unless you use the worst quality settings. If you use better quality settings, or OCR, all scanners take longer per page. But, they are still pretty fast.
People, I WANTED to love the Epson but the reality is that Epson doesn't deserve a good rating for this product and they certainly don't deserve your money. Until they put new people in charge of the software development team, and new people in charge of tech support, and revamp those two departments, and actually try using their own product, I will certainly not buy another Epson scanner.