The WorkForce DS-30 marks the Epson's first foray into the still portable scanner market. As the new kid on the block, Epson has to tangle with some already established names, specifically Neat Receipts, Plustek and Xerox. So does the DS-30 have what it takes to shake up the portable scanner market? Read on to find out.
Epson's $179 WorkForce DS-30 is the most attractive mobile scanner we've reviewed. The top of the scanner has a glossy black textured coating that gives the unit some character in a sea of look-alikes. At top center is a white stenciled Epson logo, and to the right of that is a black rubberized scan button paired with a thin green indicator light. From the document feeder down, the scanner loses its textured finish and instead takes on a matte black coating. The far right side of the DS-30 is where you'll find its USB 2.0 port.
With a footprint of 10.9 x 2.0 x 1.5 inches, the Epson WorkForce DS-30 is a hair larger than both Neat's NeatReceipts scanner (10.8 x 1.6 x 1.3 inches) and Plustek's MobileOffice S410 (10.8 x 1.9 x 1.3 inches). Despite that, the 11.8-ounce Epson weighs less than the 13.9-ounce Plustek MobileOffice S410 and just 0.2 ounces more than Neat's NeatReceipts NM-1000 scanner. We were easily able to slide the Epson into our messenger bag with a 14-inch notebook and had room to spare.
Setup and ease of use
Installing the DS-30 took about 10 minutes, owing to its large software suite. Pop in the installation disc and the install wizard will guide you through the setup process. The menus were clean and easy to read, but we were bothered by the fact that the software didn't prompt us to connect the scanner when the installation was complete. It's a small complaint, but something that the average business user may find confusing.
In addition to the basic Epson Scan scanner software, the WorkForce DS-30 comes with Document Capture Pro, Abbyy's FineReader and NewSoft's Presto! BizCard 5. Mac users also get access to NewSoft's PageManager software.
Users will likely spend most of their time with Document Capture Pro, which allows you to organize scanned documents into various folders, or send them to different programs. For instance, we were able to scan a document and send it directly to our Google Docs account. Users can also send scanned documents to Evernote, an FTP site, a Web folder or a Microsoft SharePoint Server.
That said, Document Capture Pro can't compare to NeatReceipt's Neat5, which not only allows you to save scanned documents locally and in the cloud, but can also extract and input information from scanned documents (such as receipts) into a spreadsheet or other document template for later use.
NewSoft's Presto! BizCard 5 also proved useful. The software pulls contact information from your scanned business cards and saves it in a contacts database. But for the scanner to accurately capture the information from your cards, you'll have set the DS-30 to scan at 200 dpi. Anything less and text may be too blurry for the software to accurately read.
The WorkForce DS-30 has a maximum scan area of 8.5 x 14 inches and a maximum scanning resolution of 600 dpi. In our testing, the DS-30 scanned an 8.5 x 11-inch document in an average 19.5 seconds. That's faster than Neat's NeatReceipts NM-1000's 24.4-second average, but slower than the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100's speedy 9.4 seconds.
The DS-30 was the second slowest in our roundup to scan a black-and-white business card, taking an average of 9.3 seconds. The NeatReceipts NM-1000 finished the same scan in 6.9 seconds, while the MobileOffice S410 did it in just 2.9 seconds.
The DS-30 was also slow to scan a 8.5 x 11-inch color photo at 600 dpi, taking 44.9 seconds. The NeatReceipts NM-1000 was just a bit faster, taking 35.9 seconds to scan the photo. It took the ScanSnap S1100 just 28.9 seconds to scan the same photo.
Although it was the slowest scanner in our roundup, the DS-30 more than made up for it with its image quality. Text in documents scanned at 300 dpi was sharp and easy to read. Bump the dpi down to 150, however, and the text became blurry. Color scans were equally crisp and bright, although colors did tend to wash out slightly. Rows of dark green grapevines seemed to take on a brownish hue, while the subtle grays and browns of an aged barn appeared whiter than the source material. That said, the Epson was second to only the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1100 in terms of quality.
Like the MobileOffice S410 and the NeatReceipts NM-1000, the Epson WorkForce DS-30 can only scan one side of a document at a time. But again, like the others, the DS-30's software lets users save several scanned documents as a single file. Unlike the S410, we didn't notice any problems with documents becoming misaligned during scanning.
The WorkForce DS-30 comes with a one-year limited warranty in the U.S. and Canada.
Epson's WorkForce DS-30 is a stylish and capable portable scanner. We were especially impressed with the sharing capabilities enabled by the robust software suite. And at $179, the DS-30 is $20 cheaper than Fujitsu's ScanSnap S1100. While the Epson's scan quality and speed can't quite match the S1100, the DS-30 is a solid performer that won't disappoint mobile workers.