Scanners come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, from sheetfeds to flatbeds, from large and fat, to small and svelte, and from scanners that can cover a range of objects at once, to those with a BookEdge for the best results with printed material. Never, though, have we come across one quite like the SV600. Tall and thin, it looks more like some space-age piece of gym equipment than a scanner.
Indeed, despite Fujitsu's claims of portability, the SV600 probably isn't a model you'll want to move from place to place. And while the scanner itself has a fairly small footprint, it does come with a black 522x415mm mat which takes up a fair amount of room. You don't need to use the mat, but it does a good job of showing you where to place objects, and presumably the dark colour offers a suitable contrast that makes it easy for the scanner to pick out the source material.
The ScanSnap's peculiar design comes from this being a peculiar product. Lay out the mat in front of the SV600, and it can scan anything you place before (or, rather, below) it - given a rough 432x300mm A3 work area. The scanner head contains a deep depth of field lens that can cleverly compensate for extra height or curvature. This means the images are clear and undistorted, regardless of shape.
For practical purposes, it means the Fujitsu can scan books, magazines, pictures etc. You can place multiple small objects (eg, business cards) on the mat, and have the Fujitsu scan all of them before allowing them to be turned simply into separate files. Anything that's slightly precious to you can be laid down on the mat and scanned without there being the slight risk that the material might get caught or ripped inside the machine. The SV600's great strength is its versatility. It can even give close 3D approximations of objects, and we were able to scan bottles, glasses of orange juice etc. with a fair amount of success.?
Scanning books will undoubtedly be a prime function for this model, and Fujitsu have added a few nice little features with this in mind. Once the book has been scanned, the software can produce a 'flat' version of the image that eliminates the spine. You can also adjust the contours of the book so that it matches the shape and curvature for optimum results. It's generally quite easy to keep books in place and, if you need to physically hold them open, the software even has quick deletion of fingertips! You also have some innovative tricks for handling multiple pages. You can either set a timer, allowing you to manually turn the pages at periodic intervals, or you can get the SV600 to detect when pages have been turned and automatically initiate scanning. Fujitsu recommends that you don't use any scanning material with a height above 30mm. However, we found that this didn't stop the successful scanning of a large encyclopaedia, so you can take that limit as a slightly overcautious measure.
The SV600 is simplicity itself to use, and if you're happy with the (adjustable) automatic settings, you can just press the scan button to start the action. We found that it took around 4 seconds to scan good quality material at Best. This could then be ready to work with in the software within another 10 seconds. As a scanner, then, it's incredibly fast as well as technologically impressive. You can then hand over the files to the assured software bundle. This includes a full version of Adobe Acrobat Standard, plus ABBYY FineReader 5.0 for OCR, and the ace document organiser, Rack2-Filer, and CardMinder. The OCR is smooth, and we were able to use the software bundle to create a variety of excellent file types, from searchable PDFs to Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
The SV600 isn't perhaps a mainstream product - it's too pricey for that. However, the sheer range of materials it can scan, and the quality with which it can scan them, makes it an outstanding product in its field. If you work in an environment where you might be called upon to scan just about anything at any time, especially if it's important that the source material doesn't get damaged, the SV600 is really the only practical choice.