Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S55 review

The Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S55 document scanner is aimed primarily at companies that are using shared scan-related software, whether running on corporate servers or in the cloud.
Photo of Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S55

Essentially a variation on the Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S50 that I reviewed several years ago, the Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S55 offers a nearly identical scanner for the hardware side of the package. Where the two models differ is in the software they come with, how they’re sold, and who they’re aimed at. To oversimplify a bit, the GT-S55 is aimed at, and is a much better choice for, companies that already have the software they need and are focusing their buying decisions almost entirely on the scanner itself plus the scan utility.

Unlike the Epson GT-S50, the GT-S55 isn’t available through the Epson Web site. Rather, it’s sold primarily though value added resellers. It’s aimed at companies that not only have all the application software they need, but may well be using the sort of shared document management and other scan-related programs, like SharePoint, that run on a server or in the cloud. There’s no reason these same companies couldn’t use the Epson GT-S50, but the GT-S55 also includes Epson’s Document Capture Pro scan utility, which is a much better fit than the Epson GT-S50′s equivalent for the kind of office the scanner is aimed at.

Basics, Setup, and Software
At 8.4 by 11.9 by 8.0 inches (HWD) with the input and output trays closed, or 15.9 by 11.9 by 15.0 inches with the trays extended, the GT-S55 is small enough to share a desk with as a personal scanner. However, it’s more than capable enough to serve as a workgroup scanner, with a 75-page automatic document feeder (ADF), and it’s more likely to wind up being used as one. For my tests, I installed it on a system running Windows Vista. Setup is standard fare, with a USB connection as the only choice.

The software side of the package is trimmed down to a few well-chosen essentials. The Document Capture Pro scan utility will, among other things, let you deskew images and add, insert, or replace pages. It will also let you send scans as email attachments; send them to a printer, an FTP site, SharePoint, Evernote, or Google Docs: or save them to disk in searchable PDF (sPDF), image PDF, JPG, BMP, TIFF, or Multi-TIFF formats.

The only application program that comes with the scanner is Abbyy FineReader 6.0 Sprint Plus, for optical character recognition (OCR). The scan utility uses it to recognize scanned text when you give the command to scan and save to sPDF format, and you can also use it directly to turn scanned documents into editable text files. Beyond that, between the Twain, WIA, and ISIS drivers, you can scan using virtually any Windows program with a scan command.

Scan Speed and Document Management
The GT-S55′s optical resolution is 600 pixels per inch (ppi), with 200 ppi the default setting. Epson rates it at 25 pages per minute (ppm) at 200 ppi in both color and black and white modes for simplex (one-sided) scans, and 50 images per minute (ipm) for duplex (two-sided) scans.

In my tests using the default settings and scanning our standard 25-sheet text document to image PDF format, I timed the scanner at 22.1 ppm in simplex mode and 40.5 ipm in duplex. That’s fast enough so speed isn’t an issue, but most scanners are closer to their claimed speeds in our tests. The Epson GT-S50, for example, managed 22.7 ppm and 45.5 ipm, and the similarly priced Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula DR-C125, also rated at 25 ppm and 50 ipm, came in at 25.4 ppm and 50 ipm.

In any case, raw scan speed is less important for most purposes than the speed for scanning, recognizing the text, and saving to sPDF format, which is usually the preferred choice for document management applications. Adding the recognition step with the GT-S55 added significant extra time, as it does with most scanners, for a total time of 2 minutes 17 seconds.

That’s fast enough to make the GT-S55 faster than most scanners in its price range or below. However, note that some scanners don’t slow down at all when adding text recognition. In particular, I timed the Canon DR-C125 at 1:00 whether scanning to PDF or sPDF.

Other Test Results
Aside from scanning to PDF and sPDF formats, the only test in our standard test suite I could run with the GT-S55′s software was for scanning to editable text format. The scanner plus FineReader didn’t do well at the default 200 ppi, failing to read any font size without a mistake on our Times New Roman test page. When I ran the tests at 300 ppi, however, I got much better results.

At 300 ppi, the scanner and software read fonts as small as 10 points on our Times New Roman test page and 6 points on our Arial test page without a mistake. In other words, the scanner can do the job well enough, but not at its default resolution.

The Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S55 scanner would stand out better if it were closer to its claimed speed, didn’t slow down so much when scanning to sPDF format, or both. Indeed, if it matched the Canon DR-125 on those scores, it would be a strong candidate for Editors’ Choice. Even as it is, however, the speed is fast enough, and the 75-page ADF—more than twice the capacity of the Canon DR-125′s ADF—makes it a good fit for scanning big stacks of paper. If you’re in the kind of office it’s aimed at, with software already in place or being supplied from elsewhere, the Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S55 is a more than reasonable, and potentially attractive, choice.

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Specifications
USB or FireWire Interface USB
Scanning Options Reflective
Automatic Document Feeder No
Maximum Scan Area Legal
Maximum Optical Resolution 600 pixels
Ethernet Interface No
Flatbed No

Verdict
The Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S55 document scanner is aimed primarily at companies that are using shared scan-related software, whether running on corporate servers or in the cloud.
Published under license from Ziff Davis, Inc., New York, All rights reserved.
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc