The Epson WorkForce ES-500WR Wireless Document Scanner—Accounting Edition ($499.99), is a light-to-medium-duty sheet-feed desktop document scanner appropriate for use in small offices and work groups. It’s a variation on the WorkForce ES-500W, packing in Epson’s upgraded scanning and document-processing utility, ScanSmart, and the ScanSmart Accounting Edition bookkeeping-friendly add-on. If your business requires the recurring manual entry of financial data, the ES-500WR will be an attractive alternative to our Editors’ Choice among entry-level document scanners, the Brother ADS-2700W.
Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
The biggest difference between the ES-500WR and the ES-500W is in the Accounting Edition software, so there aren’t a ton of hardware updates here. Like the ES-500W, it measures 6.6 by 11.6 by 6.9 inches (HWD) with its trays closed and weighs 8.1 pounds. That’s slightly bigger and 2.5 pounds heavier than the Brother ADS-2700W, close in size to and 2.1 pounds lighter than the Panasonic KV-S1026C-MKII, and a bit smaller in all dimensions than the Editors Choice HP ScanJet Pro 3000.
Keep in mind, though, that while they’re closed up and out of service, none of these machines take up much desk space. But with their automatic document feeders (ADF) and output trays open and ready for work, they typically double in height and triple (or more) in length.
The ADF on the ES-500WR holds up to 50 originals and its daily duty cycle is 4,000 scans. The competing models mentioned here also come with 50-sheet ADFs. In terms of duty cycle, the ES-500WR falls in the middle of the pack, with the ADS-2700W and the KV-21026C-MKII supporting 1,000 more daily scans and the ScanJet 3000 handling 500 fewer.
You can connect to the ES-500WR directly via USB 3.0, through your network wired or wirelessly with Ethernet or Wi-Fi, or from your smartphone or tablet with near-field communication (NFC). NFC is a peer-to-peer networking protocol that lets you scan the sheets loaded in the input tray to your mobile device by tapping it to the NFC hotspot located opposite the control panel on the face of the scanner. You can connect to your mobile devices with Wi-Fi Direct, or scan to flash memory drives and other storage devices via a USB port on the back of the chassis.
The control panel is simple, with seven buttons: Power, Wi-Fi Protected Setup (WPS), Wi-Fi on/off, Double Feed Detection Skip, Slow Mode, Stop, Start, and NFC. There are also seven status lights: AP mode (Wi-Fi Direct), Wi-Fi, Error, Automatic Feeding Mode, Ready, Double Feed Detection Skip, and Slow Mode. Notice that there are no buttons or a display for selecting profiles, choosing one- or two-sided scanning, or for providing the scanner with any other instructions. All that is handled from ScanSmart, either manually after the pages are scanned or automatically, according to a set of preconfigured instructions saved in workflow profiles that Epson calls Actions.
Robust Business Software
The ES-500WR ships with downloadable access to ScanSmart Accounting Edition, Nuance Power PDF (for Windows), Nuance PDF Converter (for Mac), and Presto! BizCard. Rather than an actual scanner interface and document-processing and -management program, ScanSmart is more a shell that integrates existing utilities and programs, helping them interact with the scanner itself and one another more fluidly. Epson Scan 2 and Document Capture Pro are bundled as part of ScanSmart.
With the ES-500WR you get the Accounting Edition add-on, also known as Receipt Manager. In addition to ScanSmart’s ability to accept add-on extensions and integrate applications, according to Epson it also learns how to identify recurring data, such as vendor names and logos, monthly expenses, and so on. In other words, the more you use it, the more efficiently Receipt Manager handles your financial scans. It recognizes and extracts data from scanned receipts, invoices, and other financial documents and then saves it in its own built-in database. Receipt Manager can then export the data to QuickBooks Online, or Microsoft Excel-compatible files that you can then import to one or the many other bookkeeping programs, with, that is, some manipulation of the data columns in Receipt Manager or the exported CSV file in Excel, or both.
My only real complaint about the ScanSmart Accounting Edition is that it doesn’t support other popular bookkeeping programs directly.
Ahead of the Pack
Epson rates the ES-500WR at 35 one-sided pages per minute (ppm) and 70 two-sided images per minute (or ipm, where each page side is an image). I tested the ES-500WR over Ethernet at 300dpi with ScanSmart Accounting Edition on our standard Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows 10 Professional. The new software didn’t increase scanning and document-processing speeds over the ES-500W, which was already a strong performer.
Discounting the time between when the last page hits the output tray and when ScanSmart saves the document to a usable file format—what we call “lag” time—the ES-500WR scanned our 25-page one-sided text document at 40ppm and our 25-page two-sided document at 75.7ipm, significantly faster than Epson’s ratings. The ES-500WR scanned, processed, and saved the same test documents to image PDF at 37.7ppm and 67.7ipm, a respectable performance in comparison with its ratings and with its competitors.
That’s about 2.5ppm faster and 1.5ipm slower than the ES-500W, 3ppm faster and 2.3ipm slower than Brother’s ADS-2700W, 2.4ppm and 2.5ipm quicker than HP’s ScanJet 3000, and 6.1ppm and 7.7ipm in front of Panasonic’s KV-S1026C-MKII.
When scanning to searchable PDF, a format more conducive to document search and retrieval applications, the ES-500WR scanned and saved our 25-page two-sided (50 images) test document in 44 seconds. That score tied its ES-500W sibling and is a second or two quicker than the Brother and HP models. At 1 minute 6 seconds, the Panasonic brought up the rear.
Solid Business Scanning
What good is a blazingly fast scanner if the resulting editable text requires hours of error correction? Fortunately, today’s OCR technology is much more accurate than that. The ES-500WR, for example, scanned and converted our standard Arial and Times New Roman pages error-free down to 6 points, which is more than accurate enough for most business applications. That beats the previous ES-500W’s 8 points for both fonts without mistakes.
At 5 points without errors on our Arial test page and an unmatched error-free 4 points on the Times New Roman page, Brother’s formidable ADS-2700W remains the most accurate scanner reviewed here in about a year. Meanwhile, the Panasonic KV-S1026-MKII tied the ES-500WR, and the HP ScanJet 3000 managed to scan down to 8 points with both fonts error-free.
I also scanned a few stacks of credit card receipts and invoices and then used a ScanSmart Action profile to move the data into and open Receipt Manager.
The next phase entails exporting the data to either QuickBooks Online or to an Excel CSV file. Receipt Manager’s integration with QuickBooks is well-automated. When you, after opening QuickBooks on your PC, click Export to QuickBooks in ScanSmart, it launches a window that invites you to log in to QuickBooks and then follow instructions that walk you through the rest of the process.
When exporting to a CSV file, you simply select that Action in ScanSmart, and name and save the file. What happens next depends on what you want to do with the data. To prepare it for import into an accounting program will most likely require at least some manipulation in Excel. If you have a basic knowledge of Excel, preparing CSV files for import to another program is simple. Depending on what program you want to import the data into, the process may be described in that software’s documentation.
If not, there are reams of documents covering CSV record labeling and manipulation on Microsoft’s site and elsewhere. While at times this can be intricate work, it’s not really complicated. But it would be much easier if ScanSmart Accounting Edition supported a few more popular bookkeeping applications.
When running a home- or small-office-based business, perhaps one of the more tedious recurring chores is entering data from hard copy receipts, invoices, and other financial documents into a bookkeeping program. With its support for scanning financial documents, gleaning the relevant data, and then preparing it for and exporting it to QuickBooks Online or Excel spreadsheets, the Epson ES-500WR takes a decent stab at automating that process. The QuickBooks integration is well-developed and should save you or your organization time by automating much of the financial data-entry process. With the Excel integration, on the other hand, you may have to massage the data into CSV records compatible with your accounting application.
While a wider integration with other bookkeeping programs would provide a greater value for organizations that don’t use QuickBooks, the process of preparing the CSV records for import in Excel is basic. Although it costs $100 more than the Editors’ Choice Brother ADS-2700W, the ES-500WR is worth the higher price if the ability to scan and export financial data will save valuable time for your business.