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Old 12-26-2010, 05:17 PM   #1
Steve Rindsberg
Join Date: Nov 2004
Posts: 6,849
Default The hardware side of the document classification thread

I don't think it was more than two days after I placed my order that the ScanSnap 1500 arrived (the day before Christmas, no less). Good on ya, NewEgg and UPS.

The documentation suggests hooking it up to a fairly fast PC, but just for giggles, I installed it and the accompanying software on a netbook. See, the scanner itself is quite small ... folded up, it's not a lot larger than a chubby loaf of bread. I figured that if it worked decently on the netbook, I could set up a temporary scanning station wherever it was convenient.

And in fact, it's worked out quite well. I haven't really figured out the software completely, but have found that if you tell it NOT to do OCR, it scans directly into PDFs inside its own doc management software.

Using the software, you can view the PDFs, remove pages, rotate pages, add keywords and do a few other useful PDF-tasks. Then you can select a whole batch of scans and have it OCR the whole bunch of them while you do something else. This is fairly slow on the netbook, of course, but since it can happen while I'm sleeping, I can live with it.

And the software, it turns out, doesn't store data in proprietary format. It caches a bit of image data privately so it can display pages more quickly, but the documents themselves are saved in JPG or PDF format. In fact, you can drag them from the document manager software to anyplace else you want to move them. It's more like having a very smart Windows Explorer/Finder view than proprietaryware.

The actual scans are very quick (even when doing duplex scans and letting it de-skew), and the automatic feeder has done a surprisingly good job. The only thing that's given it consistent trouble so far is things like VISA bills, where there are several pages, the first of which is shorter than the rest because the payment stub has been removed and sent back. It scans the first (short) page, then decides that there's a problem when the next page is longer. It thinks it's pulled two pages at once. Oddly, if you pile things so that the long pages all go through first, then the short ones, it's happy. I could probably do that, then rearrange the pages in its software or with the included Acrobat Standard. Or, on the theory that I'm no more likely to need the information in the file than I was to need the original paper it replaces, ignore it. I like the sound of that last. If we never turn on the light, do we care if the bulb's burnt out or not, Cricket?

All in all, I'm very pleased with the little fella and while the software's a bit complicated to sort out, it works well enough. Two Thumbs Up.

Steve Rindsberg
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