The ScanSnap iX500 once again proves Fujitsu knows how to do desktop scanners better than everyone else. The iX500 improves the best features of its predecessor, and adds some killer new ones, like the ability to scan to any mobile device straight from the scanner, with no computer required.
Price and features
At about $430 on Amazon, including a copy of Acrobat X Standard for Windows, the ScanSnap remains the best deal. Acrobat X Standard is $299 on its own, and it is essential for a functioning paperless office.
Of course, the bundled copy of Acrobat won’t matter to you if (a) you have a Mac, since only the Windows version is included, or (b) you already have Acrobat Pro or you have the current-as-of-this-writing version of Acrobat, XI. Even so, the ScanSnap’s price tag is competitive. The closest competitor is probably the Epson GT-S55, at $624, and the budget option in the category is the Brother ADS-2000, at $290. But the ScanSnap iX500 is substantially better than both, and it has a lot more to offer, feature-wise.
The iX500 has the usual spec bumps you would expect to see in a new version of an existing product. Speed is 25ppm/50ipm, up from 20ppm/40ipm for the aging S1500. It has a fancier paper picker, apparently less prone to error (although this was never really a problem with my previous ScanSnaps). And it can be connected to more cloud services, like Evernote, Dropbox, Google Drive, Salesforce, and SugarSync.
But the new headline feature is wi-fi and the ScanSnap Connect app for iOS and Android. This means your ScanSnap iX500 no longer needs to be connected to a computer. You can scan directly to your phone or tablet. More on how this work below, but the wi-fi is extremely well-done, and make the iX500 a compelling choice for big mobile scanning jobs, as well as sitting on your desk.
Hardware and design
I have never been a big fan of Fujitsu’s design for the ScanSnap line, which was an awkward cross between consumer and business that never quite worked. The iX500 finally strikes the right balance, I think. The simple matte black looks fine on your desk at home or at the office. It is unobtrusive without being unattractive. Not that style should be a major concern when scanner shopping.
The iX500 seems to be built in the same chassis as the S1500, although the document feeder has been beefed up a bit. It’s almost the same size, too, so if you are upgrading from the S1500, you won’t need to clear any extra room on your desk.
There are a couple of improvements to the hardware that you will never see. First, and most importantly, Fujitsu stuck a processor inside the iX500 to speed up image processing and handle processing when it is not plugged into a computer. It even handles optical character recognition to speed up OCR and make it possible when disconnected. That means you can leave your computer at home and scan to a phone or tablet, instead.
Like most document scanners these days, the iX500 has an ultrasonic multi-feed detector. And to reduce the chances you will need it, there is a new “Separation Roller” setup for paper picking.
The ScanSnap Manager bundled with the iX500 is just an update, not a re-working. It does what ScanSnap Manager has always done: enable you to scan documents simply and efficiently to your computer or to the cloud.
Fujitsu bundles some bloatware with its scanners, too, including:
- Cardminder Business Card Software
- ABBY FineReader Express (as far as I can tell, Acrobat handles OCR, so ABBY seems to be duplicative)
- ScanSnap Organizer (I hate proprietary document management add-ons)
Everything about the ScanSnap iX500 is quicker, more reliable, and better than its predecessor. While it scans at 25ppm, a fairly standard speed, the process of getting a document from scanner to destination feels much faster than the competition. That is due, in large part, to the new on-board processor. Image processing and OCR are definitely much faster than they were on the S1500, or on competing compact desktop scanners.
So the iX500 is a great desktop scanner, but it also delivers on mobile scanning.
Mobile scanning with the ScanSnap iX500 is a stark contrast to my experience with the Doxie Go or Xerox Mobile Scanner. Which is a bit ironic, considering those are purpose-built mobile scanners. Instead of working with the hard-to-set-up Eye-Fi system, Fujitsu built its own apps. Like most things ScanSnap, setup is a cinch. When you open the app, it will look for the scanner’s wireless signal and ask for a password. When the Scan button on your device is glowing blue, you are good to go.
You only have to connect your scanner to your phone or tablet once, by the way. Once they are connected, you can pick up your ScanSnap iX500 and take it with you (no computer necessary) and scan straight to your phone or tablet. The app has a Scan button, and when it is glowing blue, your connection is good. Press the button, and the iX500 scans just as quickly as it would if you were scanning from your computer (unlike the Eye-Fi setups).
So the iX500 is a big mobile scanner. Is it too big? I don’t think so. You don’t need a computer, so you can carry it in a fairly small bag. Which would you rather do, carry the iX500 to a document review, or carry a bankers box away from a document review? I’ll take the latter option every time.
Who should buy this?
If you are in the market for a desktop document scanner, this is the one you should buy. There’s no other scanner I would want sitting on my desk.
If you already have a scanner and are wondering if you ought to upgrade, ask yourself whether you want the option to scan to a phone or tablet at desktop scanning speeds. If you do, get the ScanSnap iX500. If you never plan to disconnect your scanner from your computer, it is not as compelling an upgrade, unless you just want the latest and greatest (or you don’t want to wait as long for scans to finish).
Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500
Reviewed by Sam Glover on .
Summary: The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 is the scanner you should buy if you are in the market for a desktop document scanner. Bonus: it goes mobile.
- Price and features: 5
- Hardware and design: 5
- Included software: 5
- Performance: 5
Overall score: 5 (out of 5)