The Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S55 is almost identical to its predecessor, the WorkForce Pro GT-S50. In fact, according to Epson’s own spec sheet (pdf), there is only one difference: ultrasonic double-feed detection.

Otherwise, the GT-S55 and GT-S50 are the same scanner. So, instead of doing a full review of the GT-S55, let’s just decide whether ultrasonic double-feed detection is worth $170, because that is the approximate difference in price between the two scanners on Amazon.

Correction: As far as I can tell, there is actually no difference between the GT-S50 and the GT-S55 on specs. I misread the above-linked spec sheet, which actually compares the GT-S50 to the GT-S80. If you want ultrasonic double-feed detection, you will need to get the GT-S80.

Ultrasonic double-feed detection

First, what is ultrasonic double-feed detection, and why might you want it? On the one hand, it is exactly what it sounds like: a fancy way to figure out whether the scanner has sucked in two pages at the same time. If you want a more detailed explanation, this dynamic fellow has a gripping explanation on YouTube. From what I can tell, it is sort of like putting a tiny dolphin inside your scanner that chirps every time it detects more than one page with its ultrasonic super-powers. (I should commission the The Oatmeal guy to draw a picture of that.)

My first document scanner, a ScanSnap S500, did not have any kind of double-feed detection. Knowing that, I usually counted the number of pages before I scanned and checked to make sure the same number of pages were actually scanned. This kind of double-checking is fine for small documents, but incredibly inconvenient when you have a stack of discovery documents to get through. After a while of not finding any double-feeds, I grew to trust the scanner. So I stopped double-checking. Then the inevitable happened: I found a scanned document with a page missing. Shortly afterward, I started noticing my scanner picking up two pages at a time fairly often. I replaced the paper-picking assembly and started double-checking again (and added a 7-day “buffer” bin to my scanning workflow), but I stopped relying on that scanner shortly afterward.

Then I got an S1500, which came with ultrasonic double-feed detection. It worked like a charm (although the interface for correcting double-feeds was inscrutable), so I stopped worrying about double-feeds, and just scanned happily along.

So is ultrasonic double-feed detection worth the extra cost?

The fear of going back to constantly wondering whether I would one day open up an0ther document only to find a missing page — probably the missing page — is not worth saving $176. Not to me, anyway. I would absolutely spring for the more-expensive Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S55. If scanner reliability is mission-critical (i.e., you are going paperless in any significant measure), you’ll want the double-feed detection, too.

Who should buy the Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S55?

As with the GT-S50, the GT-S55 is a solid, reliable document scanner with TWAIN support. However, take the TWAIN support out of the equation, and the ScanSnap S1500 — and now the iX500 — is a better option. The scanner is easier to use, the software is more intuitive and flexible, and the ScanSnap is just a better all-around package. Unless you need TWAIN.

So if you don’t need TWAIN (i.e., you do not know what TWAIN is), get a ScanSnap. However, if you do want TWAIN, the GT-S55 is probably the best choice.

And, I suppose, if you don’t care whether you miss a page now and then, go ahead and save a few bucks on the GT-S50.


  1. My first desktop scanner was one of the original ScanSnaps. Worked great for years. The price was reasonable considering you received a full license of the indispensable Adobe Acrobat Pro. After 7 or 8 years, the ScanSnap just would not feed reliably, even after replacing all the “consumables” such as rollers, pads, etc.
    I decided to check out the ScanSnap competitors and Epson Workforce GT-S50 Sam references. The price was excellent and I couldn’t see paying the price for another ScanSnap when 40% or more of the price was attributable to a license for software I already had.
    The Epson’s software is not as elegant as the ScanSnap (at least from an Apple perspective), but I grew to appreciate the ability to set multiple scanning options.
    I haven’t experienced the double feed problem, but I can definitely appreciate the piece of mind that would come from the double feed detection.
    If you are considering a ScanSnap (and already have a copy of Adobe Acrobat Pro) take a look at the Epson line. You won’t be disappointed.

    • Sam Glover says:

      After 7 or 8 years, you weren’t using the same copy of Acrobat that originally came with your ScanSnap, were you?

    • William Chuang says:

      The Epson GT-S80 is great hardware compared to the Fujitsu ScanSnap but the software is so lacking. For high volumes, the Epson is superior. But the ScanSnap is just so easy to use that I use it for daily scanning such as bills and letters while the GT-S80 is used for high-volume scanning.

  2. Carey says:

    I based my purchase of the GT-S55 partly due to your review and comment on the Ultrasonic Double-Feed Protection. That link you gave to YouTube convinced me of it’s reliability.

    Unfortunately, the GT-S55 does NOT have Ultrasonic Double-Feed Protection. If you need that, then buy the GT-S80 or the GT-S85. I should also have read the linked spec sheet a little closer, as it is clearly for the GT-S80.

    Caveat Emptor

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