When it comes to desktop scanners in the legal marketplace, the perennial favorite has been the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500. Finding a scanner that has the speed, features, software and durability of the ScanSnap S1500 has been a goal long sought by others but not achieved. Nevertheless, that may be about to change: Epson recently provided me with its WorkForce Pro GT-S50 desktop duplex color sheet-fed scanner to review. Available for as low as $330 online based on its written specifications, it is faster and has a larger automatic document feeder than the ScanSnap. Additionally, the GT-S50 is industry-standard compliant with both TWAIN and ISIS drivers, which means that the GT-S50 can work with TWAIN- or ISIS-compliant software such as PaperPort, OmniPage, Acrobat and more. I’ve had an opportunity to work with the GT-S50, and here’s what I found.
The first thing you will notice about the WorkForce Pro GT-S50 is that it is a substantial piece of technology, measuring 11.9 by 8 by 8.4 inches and weighing 11 pounds. Compared to the ScanSnap S1500, the GT-S50 is approximately 2 inches wider and taller and is heavier by almost 5 pounds. The GT-S50 does need a little more room on your desktop, including sufficient space to the front to fully extend the integrated output tray.
Everything you will need to use the GT-S50 is included in the box: software, USB 2.0 cable and power supply. The first of two CD-ROMs contains the Epson Scan with Easy Photo Fix software, the ISIS and TWAIN drivers, ABBYY Fine Reader Sprint plus optical character recognition software, NewSoft Presto!, BizCard software and the user guide. The second CD-ROM contains the PaperPort SE 11 document management software. The Workforce Pro GT-S50 is compatible with numerous editions of Microsoft Windows, including Windows 7, as well as versions of Mac OS X. You start by installing the software, which took approximately 20 minutes on an HP EliteBook 6930p notebook computer. You then connect the GT-S50 using the included USB cable and plug in its power supply. All that is left is turning it on (the power switch is on the back), raising the integrated input tray/cover and extending the integrated output tray. You are now ready to start scanning.
The GT-S50 has a two-line LCD screen to display the various scanning options and a series of control buttons on its face. The buttons allow you to select and run directly from the scanner one of 10 user-definable scan options. These 10 settings include four pre-configured settings—all of them subject to change by using the included software. You can also scan directly from the Epson Scan software or any TWAIN- or ISIS-compatible program.
THE FEATURE SET
The specifications for the GT-S50 are impressive: 25 pages per minute single-sided and 50 images a minute double-sided. The GT-S50 has a scan resolution of 600 dpi with a daily duty cycle of 1,200 pages. It includes a 75-page sheet feeder and you can scan business cards, plastic ID cards and other documents up to 8.5 by 36 inches in size. Scan smaller-sized or delicate documents using the included special carrier sheet. The GT-S50 controls are not quite as easy to use as the ScanSnap S1500’s single button, but they are not overly difficult either. The GT-S50 gives you more options that are selectable from the scanner, compared to giving you the options from the software. The 10 user-defined scanning configurations can be started from the face of the scanner by navigating between them, using the up or down arrow buttons and then selecting the start button. Other advanced features include the ability to scan different-sized documents simultaneously, enhance text, deskew documents, descreening (useful for magazines) and unsharp mask for sharper images. The GT-S50 gives users a great deal of control over the scanning process, as well as the ability to preset the most-used configurations. However, for the novice user, there may be a learning curve to understand how to use all of these settings. I recommend that users start with the preconfigured settings, including scanning single- or double-sided documents to PDF and running optical character recognition on each to make them searchable. The GT-S50 is a bit heavy, which works to its advantage when scanning stacks of documents, as there isn’t any movement in the scanner. It handled stacks of 50 pages without any issues. Feeding double-sided color copies on heavier paper also worked without any feed problems. Epson rates the GT-S50 feed rollers at 100,000 pages before replacement.
The largest shortcoming in the GT-S50 is the software: The business card scanning software is limited to only Windows mobile devices and the PaperPort software that is included is version 11, rather than current version 14. OCR is provided either by the ABBYY FineReader limited version for PDFs or via PaperPort’s included OCR. If you also have OmniPage OCR software on your computer, PaperPort will default to that program for its OCR capabilities.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The GT-S50 can handle a variety of documents and page sizes. It has a 75-page automatic document feeder, which worked on all documents placed in it. For those who need or prefer to have a scanner that works with any TWAIN- or ISIS-compliant software, is fast, and has good scanning options and paper handling comparable to scanners twice its cost but can be purchased for under $400, the GT-S50 is definitely worth consideration.
With a maximum possible score of 20, here is how I rate the SWP100A:
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Quality of Materials:
Value for Cost: