Epson GT-1500 review
There are two types of flatbed scanner: those aimed at graphics professionals, who need to scan colour photographs at high resolutions; and those intended for the business market, where documents need to be scanned for optical character recognition (OCR) or archival.
Epson's GT-1500 is definitely the latter.
The first thing that you notice about the machine is how low to the desk it is. If you think of scanners as bulky boxes with a transparency adaptor built in to their lids, this one will come as something of a surprise. It's partly because it has no transparency adaptor, just a 40-sheet Auto Document Feeder (ADF) built in to its lid, and partly because it uses a much less bulky light source than the normal fluorescent tube found in quality scanners.
This is the first outing in a business scanner for a white LED light source. LEDs have shown promise for a number of years as an alternative light for everything from head torches to car reversing lights, but until recently the quality of the white light they produced wasn't pure enough for demanding applications like scanning. Thankfully, Epson seems to have solved this problem. In addition to the reduced size of the lamp, the GT-1500 benefits from its 'instant-on' power up. The LED strip doesn't have to warm up before giving the right light for scanning.
The GT-1500 is a landscape-orientated scanner, presenting its long edge forward. Cased in cream and dark grey, it has six buttons and two indicator lights along this edge. The lid lifts to show a flatbed where you position the paper in the middle of the glass, from front to back. This means you are only lining documents up along one edge, and the shorter edge at that. Locating an original against two edges, into the corner of the surround is more convenient.
The cover of the flatbed lifts on extended hinges to accommodate books and magazines, and at the back is a single USB 2 socket - there's no FireWire connection.
Software installation is straightforward enough, though having to confirm licence agreements eight times, for the individual components of the suite, is tedious. Surely it could be done with a blanket licence? The GT-1500 comes with Abbyy FineReader 5 Sprint Plus, Presto! PageManager 8, as well as Epson's own scan and copy tools.
These applications work well with the function buttons, which are ranged along the scanners's front edge. Press the Scan key and Epson's scanning software kicks in, while the Scan to PDF key scans as many pages as you want before it wraps them into a single, searchable PDF document.
The most impressive feature of the GT-1500, perhaps the most important attribute of any scanner, is the clarity of the scans it produces. We tried it with a variety of materials, from printed pages of text and glossy magazines, to photographs and scanner targets. The scanner defaults to 300 pixels per inch (ppi), but can scan optically up to 1200 x 2400ppi, one of the reasons for its clean scans.
When we scanned a target of test lines pitched at 30, 70, 95, 140 and 180-line pairs per inch (lppi) at 1200ppi, it was capable of resolving all five, though with the 140 and 180lppi samples, the white space between the black lines was a murky grey. This is still a good performance for a business scanner. Colours in our photographic samples were good, though there was a slight over-emphasis of red.
One of the main uses for the GT-1500 will be archiving, when quantities of papers are scanned to electronic files for storage. Although not in the same league as some commercial, sheet-fed scanners, which are considerably more expensive, the Epson is rated at up to 18ppm, when set to black-and-white scan, 200ppi and speed priority. We tried these settings on a 20-page job and it scanned them in 1 minute 53 seconds, which equates to 10.6ppm. We don't know where Epson gets its 18ppm figure from, though 10.6ppm is still good.