The iX500 Scanner Sends Your Digitized Docs To Your Mac or iDevice [Review]


Looking like a prop  out of Star Trek: the ScanSnap iX500.
Looking like a prop out of Star Trek: the ScanSnap iX500.

Once I started my review of the ScanSnap iX500 document scanner, the new model in Fujitsu’s hugely popular line of top-tier ScanSnap scanners, it didn’t take long to see this machine was going to earn its pedigree.

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Document Scanner by Fujitsu
Category: Document Scanners
Works With: Mac, iPhone, iPad
Price: About $430 online

With a small footprint, dashing good-looks, scanning direct to an iOS device, and progressional-grade intake rollers, the iX500 actually makes digitizing papers easy, and dare I say, maybe a little sexy. Its included software suit also makes sense of doing something with all those scanned docs.

There’s a reason many consider Fujitsu’s ScanSnaps the finest scanners around, and the iX500 continues in that legacy with some useful new features.

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What It Does

At 25 double-sided pages per minute, Fujitsu’s iX500 scanner is the fastest consumer-grade document scanner on the market today.

Scanning directly to an iOS device is easy.

But speed isn’t the only thing that makes the iX500 excite me in ways it shouldn’t; its Star Trek-inspired blue backlights and shiny black design make its warp-speed scanning feel futuristic and a lot less nerdy than it probably actually is.

There’s a reason many consider Fujitsu’s ScanSnaps the finest scanners around.

Wi-Fi scanning direct to an iOS device is another touted feature of the new iX500. In today’s digital landscape, being to scan directly to my iPad or iPhone has big appeal.

The ultrasonic double paper feed feature built-in to the iX500 is also one Fujitsu boasts; this bit of sensoring allows the machine to detect when more than one page is passing through the scanner, alerting you that there’s an issue. That’s a handy feature in a machine built to intake, and then correctly orient, a huge heap of documents varying is size, thickness, and position.

Intaking fat stacks of paper can also often lead to frequent jams, an occurrence Fujitsu tries to dial out of the machine by including high-quality intake rollers not normally found on machines of smaller price points.

In Use

I don’t want to bury the lede here, so let me just get this out of the way: the iX500 is a fantastic scanner. There, I said it. Here’s why.

First, this thing’s a cheetah. It doesn’t just chew through stacks of documents fast, it’s really fast.

Closed up in stealth mode, iX500 has a small desktop footprint.

And though its fast, with over 3,000 pages run through my review unit, I had not a single jam. Not one. I can only assume that’s on account of the—I’ll just call them “magic rollers”—built in to the unit. Fujitsu says many consumer scanners scimp the the high-end roller tech because it’s expensive. The iX500 doesn’t, and it shows.

Let me just get this out of the way: the iX500 is a fantastic scanner.

The magic continues through the whole document management cycle. Once scanned, on a Mac using Fujitsu’s excellent ScanSnap software, you can choose where you want your document to go; a folder, Dropbox, SugarSync, Adobe Acrobat—ScanSnap even lets you customize its menu, adding other programs or locations as post-scan destinations. Document management has obviously been well thought out by Fujitsu, and the included software does a good job at steering you into an end-to-end workflow.

This document management process is a cinch to set up, and makes actually doing something with your scanned documents somewhat effortless, making scanning regularly less of a chore.

The ScanSnap menu pops when when your document is scanned.

Fujitsu also includes their CardMinder app with the scanner, allowing you to digitize those huge stacks of business cards you’ve collected over the years. Imagine being able to search digitally for a card you got two years ago, bringing up a contact, and being able to see the front and back of their business card. That’s what the iX500 paired with CardMinder does.

I also found iOS scanning to be an incredibly useful feature. This functionality allows you to avoid plugging your computer into the iX500. But wait. Isn’t the iX500 a wireless scanner? Kind of. Those Wi-Fi scanning talents only work with your iOS devices. That was a point of frustration for me, and one I’ve heard echoed from users who have reviewed the unit online. This means, if you want to use the iX500 with your Mac, it needs to be plugged in via USB. Scanning to an iOS device, however, is as easy as opening the scanner from its closed position, entering a document, then clicking scan. Poof! Scanned documents are sent to any iDevice running Fujitsu’s free ScanSnap iOS app, and can then be emailed, sent to Dropbox, or moved on elsewhere.

I should also mention a quirk I experienced with my unit; one that rendered my first iX500 unusable without disabling the machine’s ultrasonic sensor. It seems, and Fujitsu is aware of the problem, that certain places (houses, offices, etc.) experience some kind of radio interference that confuses the iX500’s ultrasonic sensor, causing the machine to throw errors whenever scans are initiated. After going through two machines, we discovered my household is one of those rare places. Fujitsu reported that only a small handful of people have complained to them about the problem, and users should contact them for a fix. They were able to solve my issue once we discovered what the issue was, and from that point forward, my review unit performed flawlessly.

So what’s the bottom line here? The iX500 is the scanner to beat. If there’s a better consumer-grade document scanner on the market, I haven’t tried it. If there’s one that’s more svelte-looking, I haven’t seen it. I’ll be the first to admit that document scanning isn’t sexy or cool, but using the iX500 makes it feel that way, and if you’re looking to digitize all the important documents and paper clutter in your life, there’s no better way to do it.

Product Name: : iX500 Document Scanner.
The Good: Small, fast, jam-free document scanning with excellent supporting software.
The Bad: Radio interference affects some machines, but it’s rare.
The Verdict The scanner to beat and the one to buy if you can afford it.
Buy from: Amazon