The highly portable Epson WorkForce ES-300WR Wireless Document Scanner — Accounting Edition ($399.99) is an enhanced version of the Editors’ Choice WorkForce ES-300W we reviewed last year. This latest iteration of Epson’s flagship portable document scanner lists for only $100 more, but its business-centric software, as well an overhauled and renamed document-capture interface, make it more accurate and bookkeeping-friendly, thereby increasing its overall value. If collecting financial data on the road and exporting it for use in your accounting application—eliminating the need to enter it manually—sounds attractive, you should consider the ES-300WR.
A Well-Thought-Out Traveling Companion
Note that if you prefer a less mobile desktop document scanner, Epson also offers an Accounting Edition of the WorkForce ES-500WR Wireless Document Scanner, which is a little faster, bigger, and heavier. When the portable model is closed up and ready for the road, it measures 2.6 by 11.3 by 3.5 inches (HWD) and weighs 2.9 pounds. Much of its height and weight comes from a built-in rechargeable battery. Some other portable scanners with rechargeable batteries include the slightly smaller and lighter Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula P-215II Scan-Tini, and the much smaller and lighter Apparent Doxie Q. The former, like the ES-300WR and its ES-300W twin, comes with a 20-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) that scans both sides of two-sided pages simultaneously, in a single pass. The Doxie Q’s ADF, on the other hand, holds only eight pages; and to scan both sides of two-sided pages, you must scan one side of the originals, then turn them over manually to scan the other sides.
While lighter machines like the manual-feed Xerox Duplex Travel Scanner, the Visioneer Patriot P15, and Epson’s own DS-320 Portable Duplex Document Scanner and WorkForce ES-200 are smaller, lighter, and easier to carry, they don’t have batteries, meaning that you’ll be tethered to an AC outlet.
How fast the battery charges depends on the power source, and, like many other recent portable models, the ES-300WR will run and charge from AC or USB power sources at the same time. Epson told me that when the scanner is in use, the battery charges from AC outlets in just a couple hours; USB 3.0 takes about four hours, and USB 2.0 needs around 20 hours. The scanner charges faster, of course, when it’s turned off. Epson doesn’t claim a specific per-page battery life rating, but I scanned hundreds of pages on a single charge during my testing.
The cover opens to expose the 20-sheet ADF and the control panel, which is split between the top-right of the scanner’s face and the front-right edge of the chassis. The controls themselves comprise four buttons—Power, Stop (Cancel), Start, Wi-Fi Connect (Wi-Fi Protected Setup, or WPS)—and five status LEDs: Error, Automatic Feeding Mode, Ready, Wi-Fi On/Off, and Battery. Also, notice in the image below that, located near the left side of the face, almost catty-corner from the controls, is a mode-selector toggle for switching between standard documents and thick plastic cards (ID cards and credit cards, for instance). On the right-front edge, there’s a toggle for selecting Wi-Fi or USB connectivity.
You can connect the ES-300WR wirelessly to your network via Wi-Fi, and wired to a single PC through USB, either 2.0 or 3.0. You can scan to both Apple iOS and Android devices with the Epson DocumentScan app.
ScanSmart Accounting Edition
Since the ES-300W’s debut in early 2017, Epson has made significant changes to the software collection it includes with its scanners. The most significant change is the company’s new ScanSmart, a management utility that integrates the scanner, supporting software, and other applications, helping them all work together more smoothly. The new accounting-friendly features are software-specific; they’re part of an extended version of the utility called ScanSmart Accounting Edition.
ScanSmart allows you to configure and execute scan jobs, as well as create workflow profiles (Scan to File, Scan to Email, and so on), or presets, that Epson calls Actions, that define all aspects of a scan job. ScanSmart Accounting Edition makes getting your data collected from scanned financial documents into your bookkeeping application, more specifically, QuickBooks Online and Excel, simpler.
Essentially, the Accounting Edition upgrade consists of a ScanSmart extension called Receipt Manager that automatically identifies and extracts relative financial data from receipts, invoices, and other financial hardcopies, and helps you massage it into data compatible with QuickBooks Online or Excel. This can potentially eliminate tedious and time-consuming manual entry. The Excel export is CSV, a format accepted by most bookkeeping programs. According to Epson, as you use the software’s automatic file naming and receipt-recognition tool, ScanSmart learns how to identify recurring data, such as vendor names and logos, recurring expenses, and so on, thereby streamlining the storing, retrieving, and finding-critical-data-and-documents processes.
In addition to ScanSmart Accounting Edition, the software bundle includes Nuance Power PDF, a PDF creation and editing program alternative to Adobe Acrobat; Nuance PDF Converter for Mac; and NewSoft Presto! BizCard, a business card scanning and archiving utility.
One Fast Portable Document Scanner
Epson rates the ES-300WR at 25 pages per minute (ppm) in simplex (one-sided) mode and 50 images per minute (or ipm, where each image is one side of a two-sided page) in duplex mode. I ran my tests over USB 3.0 at 300dpi from PCMag’s standard Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows 10 Professional. The ES-300WR’s scores are close enough to the other Epson models discussed here (the ES-200W, the ES-300W, and the DS-320) that it’s safe to say that the scanner itself and its BIOS hasn’t undergone any significant performance-related tweaking, and that ScanSmart doesn’t process data discernably faster than did the recently replaced Epson Scan 2/Image Capture Pro utilities I used when testing last year’s ES-300W.
After discounting the lag time (the period between when the last page is scanned, and the software saves the scan job to a usable image or searchable PDF file), the ES-300WR scanned my 25-page one-sided document at the rate of 28.3ppm and the 25-page two-sided (50-image) document at 54.5ipm. For both documents, that’s 1ppm faster than the ES-300W. The ES-320 and the ES-200W scores basically matched the ES-300WR. The Visioneer P15 and the Canon P-215II both have lower speed ratings, by 10ppm and 20ipm, than the Epson portables. The P15 scored 17.1ppm and 34ipm and the Canon P-215II managed 15.9ppm and 30.9ipm.
In the next test, I timed the ES-300WR as it scanned the same two documents, and as ScanSmart processed and saved them to image PDF. As expected from my experience with the previous Epson models, the image PDF scan times were almost identical to the scores in the previous test.
Next, I timed the ES-300WR as it, with the help of ScanSmart, scanned and converted the 25-page, 50-image document to the more versatile searchable PDF. It completed the task in 55 seconds, with only a 0.5-second lag time between scanning to searchable PDF and scanning to memory with no conversion or formatting.
The other Epson models, of course, performed similarly, and the P15 managed the same task at about 40 seconds slower, but the P-215II beat the ES-300WR by about 5 seconds.
Accuracy and Exporting
I’d rather my scanner be slow than inaccurate. To that end, the ES-300WR converted both my Arial and Times New Roman font pages without mistakes down to 6 points, making it the most accurate of all of the scanners mentioned here. which is slightly more accurate than the DS-320. The other two Epson portables, the ES-200W and ES-300W, were a little less accurate still. I also looked back at all the portable document scanners PCMag has reviewed over the past two years, and discovered that the ES-300WR with ScanSmart has earned the best accuracy scores for a portable document scanner so far.
I also took a look at the bookkeeping features in the ScanSmart Accounting Edition software. Getting your financial data from hard copy to your accounting application is a two-part process, scanning and exporting. You scan your receipts, invoices, and so on into ScanSmart as you would any other document, and when finished you use a ScanSmart Action to send the data to Receipt Manager to review and, well, manage it.
Clicking Export and Save gives you the options to either Export to QuickBooks or Save as CSV. If you choose the former, make sure that QuickBooks is open, so that ScanSmart can find it. ScanSmart then opens a QuickBooks window that first invites you to log in to QuickBooks, and then walks you through the process of matching fields and exporting the data. While I haven’t done this with ScanSmart and QuickBooks, back in the day when I did do my own accounting, I exported data in and out of QuickBooks frequently. I suspect that this process is similar. The first few times entailed matching QuickBooks data field labels (say “Expenses/Automobile/Maintenance”) to corresponding labels in the incoming data. (It’s here, I suspect, that ScanSmart does most of its learning.)
When you export to a CSV file, you simply choose that option, name the file, and the software takes it from there. How you use the data after that is up to you. In most scenarios, though, such as, say getting the data into FreshBooks, you’ll probably have to massage it a bit, at the least by matching and labeling each CSV record to corresponding records in the accounting software. If you have experience with Excel, all this is Intro to Spreadsheets 101, and there is extensive information available online (and most likely your bookkeeping application’s documentation) on preparing CSV files for import. Even so, I’d like to see ScanSmart Accounting Edition support several additional accounting packages, since not everyone uses QuickBooks.
Good for Business
The difference between the Editors’ Choice ES-300W and this newer ES-300WR model is all in the software. So, when it comes to deciding whether it’s worth the $100 premium, you have to think about your business. If this new accounting iteration of our current favorite portable document scanner saves you or somebody else in your organization from hours of manually entering financial data (which in addition to being boring, increases the potential for input errors) each month, of course it is. But if you don’t see your business taking advantage of this beefed-up software, the ES-300W is the way to go.