376 of 387 people found the following review helpful
Super-fast but overpriced, with glitchy software & awful documentation,
This review is from: Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M Instant PDF Sheet-Fed Scanner for the Macintosh (Office Product)
I got my ScanSnap 2 weeks ago and have now scanned about 7,000 pages of docs. Although I feel it's a flawed product, I think it's still the best available that I've found.
* The hardware is really good at what it does: wicked fast, solid quality scanning. I can easily tear through 300-500 pages an evening.
* The hardware workflow deals efficiently with common problems, most notably, reliably detecting & helping you correct when a page misfeeds.
* It folds up into a small footprint on your desk.
* Hardware build quality feels really cheap for a $450 device. Most notably, the paper feed gears are all plastic. Mine already broke in just the first 10 days requiring complete replacement of the scanner.
* It's marketed as allowing up to 50 pages in the sheet feeder, my experience is that it typically can't feed paper unless you go down to 15-20. When I try with more, it makes a horrible noise and jams up. (I'm pretty sure this is what broke the plastic gear.)
Finally, the mediocre software. Speaking as a usability engineer who has also worked in the Mac OS team at Apple, the software interface is remarkably disappointing, especially for a Mac OS app. Saddeningly, most of the kinds of problems I see are ones that could have been cumulatively fixed in just a few man-weeks of a good designer & engineer's time. Here's just a smattering:
* After the first two pages that you scan, the window focus returns to the scan progress dialog. In other words, if you start a scan and go do something else (like surfing the web), the first time you press the space bar or return key, your scan job is aborted without undo, since you've pushed the "Stop" button unwittingly.
* File names can't be saved if you use characters prohibited on Windows (but not Mac). Worse, when you enter the name and it gives you an error (which gives factually incorrect criteria for what characters you can and can't type -- it keeps telling me I can't enter characters that I know I didn't), you lose the entire file name you chose and have to re-create it from scratch.
* The user interface text was clearly written by a non-native English speaker lacking usability or user assistance experience. Buttons and labels frequently even fail to conform to Apple's own naming guidelines. Even though the concepts behind the software are simple, it's often necessary to read the user manual to understand what different functions actually do, because the text labels are so poorly crafted, and rarely relate to the user task at hand. The error messages sometimes are just unbelievable -- I've worked on the design and creation of consumer software for 16 years and I've *never* seen anything this sloppy.
* There's so much low-hanging fruit that could make the software great: why can't it automatically propose a file name based on the first few words of a scan? Why can't the OCR take place in the background, so that you can get your scanning done and do the conversion overnight? (etc)
The documentation is also unbelievably bad: it's not task-oriented, there's factual mistakes where they copied and pasted out-of-date content from the prior model that doesn't apply to the S1500M, it buries the most critical things you need to know in tangents, and is written for an era in which users read a multi-hundred page document from back to back. If I were still teaching undergraduate technical communication, I would use it with my students for comic relief.
All that said, this scanner has enabled me to reclaim my closet and I'm very grateful for it. But it's far from a perfect product, and the flaws are ones that companies have no excuse for perpetuating at this price point, or in this era. Hopefully in 5 years there will be competitors that build fast scanners with reliable quality and well-crafted software -- but this ain't it.
Tracked by 6 customers
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Showing 1-10 of 14 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Jan 26, 2011 9:15:06 PM PST
Johnny Guitar says:
Great feedback on the usability, which of course is still the most important thing to *nearly* every user.
Posted on Jul 7, 2011 3:22:39 PM PDT
The reason we all want a stand-alone scanner is the multi-sheet feed so that we can go paperless in the office or at home-- yet this is one of the most (if not the most) vulnerable part of the scanner. Plastic feed parts, plastic rollers that break easily are very disappointing. And in this case of the review above, this happened in the first 10 days of use. Is there no stand-alone scanner in the $500 range that has solid, reliable multi-sheet feed capability?
Posted on Jul 22, 2011 8:31:01 PM PDT
The Pod Guy says:
Great review, thanks so much. Even though I'm reading this 6 months after you wrote it, I suspect nothing has changed.
In reply to an earlier post on Jul 22, 2011 8:37:21 PM PDT
E. Goldberg says:
Thank you! I'm not aware of any changes, personally, to the hardware or software.
And just to be sure -- I really am happy with the product. I just wanted to be transparent about its (many) quality shortcomings that other people left out! ;-)
Posted on Jul 24, 2011 7:19:52 AM PDT
Jerry Pinsky says:
How does this compare to other Mac related scanners on the market? Namely, Neatscan?
Posted on Nov 26, 2011 4:21:05 PM PST
My Pen Name Here says:
Got an older one for Windows (S510) and I'm looking into getting the new 1500M for the mac. You mentioned OCR does not run in the background. The windows software that came with mine (ScanSnap Organizer) has the option to do the OCR in the background, after the scan. It can be either triggered manually or it starts automatically when the system is idle. Does the Mac software not have this option? Do you have to wait to complete the OCR with each scan?
In reply to an earlier post on Nov 26, 2011 4:29:41 PM PST
E. Goldberg says:
If the option exists, I've never found it!
In reply to an earlier post on Jan 14, 2012 7:50:33 AM PST
Thomas Burka says:
From my scouring the web for reviews, this is the best scanner for the paperless office -- fast, for one thing -- but most people are unhappy with the software. The NeatDesk software, which is sold separately, is touted by many as really great for organizing and using the information you get from your-scanned in documents (and the documents themselves). I've read of at least several who bought this hardware and the NEatDesk software separately and were very happy. People complain about problems with the NeatDesk hardware, the scanner itself.
In reply to an earlier post on Feb 23, 2012 5:49:49 PM PST
W. Harmon says:
Interesting read as I am currently using the Neat and love the software but have way too many problems with the scanner itself. I did not realize that this would work with the neat software. That may just be the answer. Thanks...