I have a seriously complicated love/hate relationship with paper. Little notebooks for sketches and general musings are like crack to me. I can’t get enough of them. Papercraft is awesome, and one of our favorite family crafts. Handmade greeting cards, paper airplanes, even paperback books – all perfectly wonderful uses for paper.
What I can not stand is paper that other people think I need: a receipt as long as my arm for a tube of toothpaste, a twelve-page bank statement, details about my oil change. Here’s the rub, though. I can’t bring myself to just throw them away. Well, maybe the toothpaste receipt, but so much of the other paper I receive is stuff that I may, possibly, one day need again. The result? Accordion folders, which get transferred to boxes, which get thrown away in a moment of frustration, which I feel anxious about for the next six months.
I started out trying to save all of my important paperwork to Evernote with my phone, but that didn’t last long. While it was effective, it was not the least bit efficient. Resigned to the fact that I needed a desktop scanner, I started shopping around. I knew the ScanSnap was popular, and others here at GeekDad highly recommended it, but that $425 price tag kept scaring me away. As luck would have it, I offhandedly mentioned to one of the writers here my predicament, and he put me in touch with Epson, who provided me with a review sample of their Epson DS-560.
You know those little tiny pieces of tape that printer and scanner manufacturers use to hold things closed during shipping? They usually have one end that is sticky and the other has a bright colored end. The DS-560 wins the award for the most pieces of shipping tape, hands down. While this may seem like a strange observation, I make it for a reason. This scanner has so many sliding, opening, unfolding parts that I half expected it to open up on its own and start pledging its allegiance to Megatron. The purpose behind this construction is that designing all of the trays to slide in and fold up gives the DS-560 a very tiny footprint, allowing it to be shoved innocuously to the back of a desk or even a kitchen counter.
Yes, kitchen counter. The DS-560 is a wireless scanner, which means you can plug it in anywhere and scan to your PC or mobile device from any room in the house – in theory. In practice… well, I’ll come back to this.
Setup, or “You Want Me to Install What?”
Let me preface this section by saying that once you get the DS-560 set up, it runs like a champ. It’s even easy to take it from USB quickly to wireless mode. It’s getting it to that point that’s the tricky part.
First, the wireless setup. If you can use WPS, I highly recommend it. Setting up the wireless connection to your network manually requires installing an Epson application called EpsonNet, finding a wireless PC with a CD-ROM (no small feat in 2016), connecting your PC directly to the scanner’s WiFi, then configuring the network settings on the scanner. I’m not sure why the configuration could not be done via direct connection via the USB cable.
Second, the scanning application setup. This was comparatively quite simple. I installed the Document Capture Pro software and started setting up my scanning profiles. As an Evernote user, I set up profiles for saving to specific notebooks as well as higher resolution scans for items such as magazines. If you’re a Dropbox or Google Drive user, you can configure your scans to go directly to these services as well, or you can scan to e-mail, FTP, or a folder on your computer.
Still, it seems strange in this day and age to require several applications to get one piece of hardware working, and the whole experience feels like a holdover from the Windows XP era. Functional, but not simple or pretty.
Let the Scanning Begin
The Epson DS-560 includes a quick scan button on the front that you can program to automatically send to a specific profile. If you’re like me, 99% of your scanning is going to be done with this button. I configured a profile to scan 300dpi, full color, double-sided, skip blank pages, and send the result to Evernote into a notebook called “To Be Filed.” Now, with a single button push, I can have a document in Evernote in just a few seconds, to tag and file at my leisure.
For the other 1%, you can fire off the scan job from the Windows task bar by right clicking on the Document Capture Pro icon and choosing the name of the scanning profile. One profile I have set up is called “Magazine.” It scans high resolution, double-sided, full color, and sends the result to a Google Drive folder that I’ve shared with my family. Now, instead of having paper magazines floating around, I simply pull the staples, tear it right down the middle, drop the pages into the scanner, and click “Magazine.” Seconds later, it’s on the Google Drive and the magazine goes straight into the recycle bin.
Back to my kitchen counter comment. The workflow I envisioned was to set up all of the profiles I mentioned above, then have the scanner sitting on the kitchen counter. I’d retrieve the mail, recycle the garbage, drop the important stuff straight into the scanner and hit the quick button to send it to Evernote, then drop it in the recycling with the rest. Unfortunately, the DS-560 does not support use of the quick button when it’s in network mode. This seemed like such an oversight, I was convinced I was just doing something wrong, so I read all of the documentation I could find but never figured out a way to do so. I could scan items to the PC or my mobile device by using the interface on either, but to me, the power of a network scanner is the ability to send scans from the unit itself without having to open up any applications.
Not willing to give up such a quick and effortless workflow, I hooked the scanner back up to my desktop PC and began the task of ridding myself of years of paperwork. In two evenings, I had reduced an entire overflowing accordion folder to a few hundred notes in Evernote ready to be tagged and filed. The scanning process was very smooth. The DS-560 handled various sizes and thicknesses of paper, and in thousands of pages scanned, only jammed once or twice due to extra-long receipts or crinkly, thin carbon-copy sheets.
The quality of the scans themselves were very good. Evernote uses optical character recognition to index the contents of your notes, making them searchable, and I had no problem finding a specific document by searching for “Water Bill” or “Auto Insurance.”
Overall, the Epson DS-560 is a fast, high quality, network-capable scanner with a small footprint that, if you can work through getting it set up, is a serious competitor to the over-$100-more-expensive Fujitsu ScanSnap.
I asked one of the other writers who owns the ScanSnap how it functions via the network and whether you can scan directly to Evernote via a single button like I wanted to do, but was unable to, with the DS-560. He said he didn’t see a way to do it on the ScanSnap, either, so perhaps I’m just wanting too much out of a scanner. If anyone knows if either of these scanners, or perhaps another, is capable of sending a scan directly to a specific Evernote notebook with a single button push while connected via the network, please let me know in the comments.
- Scanner Type: Sheet-fed, one-pass duplex color scanner
- Photoelectric Device: 1 line CMOS Contact Image Sensor (CIS)
- Optical Resolution: 600 dpi
- Output Resolution: 75 to 1200 dpi
- Effective Pixels: 5,100 x 21,600 pixels
- Color Bit Depth: 48-bits per pixel internal / 24-bit external
- Grayscale Bit Depth: 16-bits per pixel internal / 8-bit external
- Monochrome Bit Depth: 1-bit
- Light Source: Three Color RGB LED
- Capacity: 50 sheets
- 26 ppm/52 ipm: 200 dpi Black & White, Color, Gray1
- 26 ppm/52 ipm: 300 dpi Black & White, Color, Gray1
- 18 ppm/36 ipm: 400 dpi Black & White, Gray1
- 5 ppm/10 ipm: 400 dpi Color1
- 18 ppm/36 ipm: 600 dpi Black & White, Gray1
- 5 ppm/10 ipm: 600 dpi Color1
- Document Sizes:
- Paper size Minimum: 2.1″ x 2.9″
- Paper size Maximum: 8.5″ x 16.5″ (Mac), 8.5″ x 36″ (Windows)
- Paper Weight: 50 to 209 g/m
- Daily Duty Cycle: 3000 sheets
Epson provided a DS-560 scanner for review purposes. All opinions are my own.