Still scanning after all these years

By Harold Glicken

It’s one thing to write a positive review of  the latest office essential when it’s new, but what about a follow-up: How has it performed after years of use?

I was enthusiastic about the Epson GT-S50 desktop color document scanner when I bought it three years ago. So, how’s it holding up? Very well – it  works as well today as when it was new. It still scans fast, with excellent results, after moderately heavy use for most of those three years – a lifetime in the world of computer hardware. It seldom jams and has not caused me any grief due to repair time.

I couldn’t say that about my previous scanner, a Fujitsu ScanSnap that jammed when I tried to feed it more than one sheet of paper. After two years of frustration, it worked as badly as when it was new.

 But let’s back up a moment. Why buy a document scanner in the first place? Because it’s the best way to get rid of paper clutter while keeping records you might need later. If you organize your scans logically, you’ll find documents you need in minutes, instead of shuffling through storage boxes full of paper.

Folks who do a moderate number of scans might also consider all-in-one printer/copy/fax/scanner because they are cheaper than desktop document scanners. But in most all-in-ones, the size of original documents is limited to 8 1/2 by 11 inches. If you have one of those and are happy with it, you might want to skip the expense of a dedicated document scanner. But my experience with all-in-ones is they print well, but scan and copy less well. 

Desktop scanners and all-in-ones work pretty much the same way: Load a document feeder with paper documents, photos, business cards – any flat original – call up the provided scanning software, choose a format, such as “pdf,” for saving the document, the resolution you want – 300 dots per inch works fine for my needs – and in the software, click on “scan.” Couldn’t be simpler.

The paper document passes over a high-intensity light, and winds up in a receiving tray. The potential for paper jams is high, yet the Epson scanner will handle even wrinkled paper documents and minimize the wrinkles in the finished scane. Scanned documents look good at the lower resolution setting and as good as originals at higher settings.

The desktop scanner I own weighs a sturdy nine pounds, so it won’t slip around on a desk. Its software is compatible with both Windows PCs and Macs. It will handle documents as long as 36 inches, scans on both sides in color and will handle fragile documents or business cards in a plastic carrier sheet.  It connects to a Windows PC or Mac via a USB cable. Epson’s tech support, in the unlikely event you’ll need it, is free, with short hold times.

And it’s fast. At lower resolutions, which can be chosen to handle less crucial documents, it will scan both sides at the rate of 50 sheets a minute

I scan documents as “pdf’s” – portable document files – because they can be opened and read  by any computer or tablet that has Adobe’s free Acrobat Reader installed. But other formats are available, such as “tiff.”   That format is handy when photos are edited using software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements or Corel’s PaintShop.

When I finish scanning documents, I give them unique names. My electric bill becomes “2016.08 Electric.Bill,” assuring that I can find it on my PC or backup disk drive.      Once I’ve chosen names for the scanned files, I create folders. The general one is simply “2016.” A sample subfolder would be “2016 Utilities.” A subfolder of that would be named “2016 Electric Bills.” The electric bill I just scanned would go into that folder. My scans go back to 2009, when I bought my first of two Fujitsu scanners.

How handy is this? The other day I was looking for warranty information for a computer mouse that was starting to fail. I wasn’t certain about when I bought the mouse, so I did a search for the file in the box at the lower left corner in Windows 10. In an instant, the file popped up. While I was out of luck as far as warranty was concerned, I was spared the tedious search through boxes of paper.

The GT-S50 has been replaced by the model DS-560, which has all the features of the former – and has the advantage of wireless and wired networking. If you shop around, you can get the newer model for less than $300. If you’re set on the scanner I have – the GT-S50 – you can still find it for about $500 at a few stores. If I had to replace my current scanner, I’d choose the less-expensive one that replaced the GT-S50. I’d pass on a flatbed or all-in-one. I don’t think the quality of scans is as good as the desktop.

Bottom line? A document scanner is worth its weight in paper storage boxes.

Printer has tanks of ink