Few peripherals are as convenient as portable document scanners, and few portable document scanners are as fast and capable as the Epson WorkForce ES-300W Wireless Portable Duplex Document Scanner ($299.99). Like the Canon imageFormula P-215II Scan-tini Personal Document Scanner, the ES-300W has a built-in automatic document feeder (ADF), but the Epson model is faster than the P-215II, and it supports Wi-Fi, for completely cable-free operation when combined with its built-in battery. Like most Epson WorkForce scanners, the ES-300W comes with a complete suite of software, including document and business card archiving programs. A generous software bundle, fast performance, including quick PDF file conversion, and wireless connectivity are enough to unseat the P-215II Scan-tini as our Editors’ Choice for portable document scanners.
The HP ScanJet Pro 3000 s3 Sheet-Feed Scanner ($429.99) is a good value as a moderately priced desktop document scanner. An upgrade in capacity and features from the entry-level HP ScanJet Pro 2000 we reviewed recently, it is faster than the Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula DR-C225 and the Brother ImageCenter ADS-2000e. The ScanJet 3000 includes a well-rounded software bundle, and, in testing, the hardware performed well. Optical character recognition (OCR) accuracy is about average, and speed is excellent. All this makes the ScanJet 3000 our new Editors’ Choice personal desktop document scanner, though it’s also good for a small or micro office or workgroup.
We’re seeing an increasing number of network-capable sheet-feed document scanners lately, including the $399.99 Epson WorkForce ES-500W Wireless Duplex Document Scanner we’re reviewing here. But the ES-500W is somewhat different in that it’s not often that we see network functionality on an entry-level scanner like this one. (Epson does offer a non-Wi-Fi version of the ES-500W, the ES-400, for $50 less.) The ES-500W is fast for its class, and it saves to image and searchable PDF at a good clip for the price. Optical character recognition (OCR) accuracy is a bit below average, though, but it comes with a well-rounded software bundle that includes document and business card archiving software.
Overall, we found the ES-500W impressive, but its mediocre OCR accuracy dinged it just enough to cause it to come up short in dethroning the Editor’s Choice Canon imageFormula DR-C225 as our go-to low-to mid-volume document scanner for a small or micro office. We also like it as a personal document scanner, though in that capacity its OCR accuracy falls short of the Editors’ Choice HP ScanJet Pro 3000 s3 Sheet-Feed Scanner.
Essentially a faster version of the Brother PDS-5000 we reviewed recently, the $1,399.99 Brother PDS-6000 High-Speed Color Desktop Scanner is a fast and accurate sheet-feed document scanner for high-volume use in small and medium-size offices and workgroups. Speed-wise, it’s rated slightly higher than its less expensive sibling and that model’s comparably priced competitor, the Editors’ Choice HP ScanJet Enterprise Flow 7000. In testing, it did manage to scan faster and save to image PDF a little quicker than both the PDS-5000 and ScanJet 7000, but not enough to warrant the PDS-6000’s $500 price difference. Besides, when saving to the more useful searchable PDF format, it fell well behind the ScanJet 7000 and other competitors. Even so, if raw imaging speed is what you’re looking for, the PDS-6000 hardware is among the fastest we’ve recently seen in this class.
A high-volume sheet-fed document scanner designed for heavy workloads in medium-to-large offices and workgroups, the $899.99 Brother PDS-5000 High-Speed Color Desktop Scanner is fast and accurate. But compared with the similarly priced Editors’ Choice HP ScanJet Enterprise 7000 s3 Sheet-Feed Scanner, it comes up somewhat short in performance and features. In testing, the PDS-5000 wasn’t quite as fast at saving to searchable PDF, nor as accurate, as the ScanJet, and the Brother model’s software bundle isn’t as well-rounded. The PDS-5000 does have a higher capacity automatic document feeder (ADF), though, and it’s more than quick and accurate enough to make it a serious contender for use in medium-to-heavy scanning environments.
A recent addition to the ScanJet family, the ScanJet Pro 2000 s1 Sheet-feed Scanner ($299.99) is a capable low-volume document scanner comparable in capacity and features to the Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula DR-C225, as well as the adept Brother ADS-2000e. The ScanJet 2000 is fast for the price, and its optical character recognition (OCR) accuracy is about average. It comes with a comprehensive software bundle consisting of top-drawer OCR and document and business card management programs, making it an exceptional value. In testing, it fell behind some competitors when saving to searchable PDF, but not enough to keep us from recommending it as a strong, inexpensive choice for small and micro offices and workgroups, or as a personal document scanner.
There’s portable, and then there’s portable. With the $149 IRIScan Anywhere 5 WiFi manual sheet-feed document scanner, all you need to take with you is the scanner itself. No cables, laptop, tablet, or smartphone are required. The difference between it and its competitors, the Editors’ Choice Visioneer RoadWarrior X3 and Canon imageFormula P-215II Scan-tini Personal Document Scanner, is that the Anywhere 5 runs on a rechargeable battery and scans to a MiniSD card. In scans quickly and accurately, but short battery life and the inability to scan directly to its bundled software mean it falls just short of an Editors’ Choice nod.
A sheet-feed, network document scanner, the Brother ImageCenter ADS-3600W ($799.99) offers excellent value, with a solid feature set and strong performance. It’s not as elegant, nor is its software as network-friendly, as the Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula ScanFront 400. The ScanFront 400, however, sells for more than twice as much and is limited to Ethernet connectivity, while the ADS-3600W connects via USB, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, and NFC in addition to Ethernet. It’s an easy pick as Editors’ Choice for midrange to heavy-duty network scanning in small and midsize offices and workgroups.
The Epson DS-1630 Flatbed Color Document Scanner ($299.99) is a low-volume document scanner designed for small and home-based offices. It combines the versatility of a flatbed and a sheet-feed scanner with an automatic document feeder (ADF), and supports automatic duplex scanning. But unlike many competing models, including the same-priced HP ScanJet Pro 2500 f1 Flatbed Scanner and the more expensive Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula DR-2020U, the DS-1630 has only one sensor, making it slow at scanning two-sided pages. Even so, it’s buoyed by its generous software bundle and competitively accurate optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities.
There must be many. Why else would Epson’s market research indicate that a relatively expensive high-speed photo scanner would be a viable product almost 17 years into the 21st century?
Enter Epson’s $649.99-MSRP FastFoto FF-640 High-speed Photo Scanning System, a sheet-fed scanner with a robust automatic document feeder (ADF) front and center, augmented by image-editing and -cataloging software. It looks like any number of other sheet scanners, especially Epson’s own, meant for scanning text documents. And that’s a departure, because most photo scanners are flatbeds, not snapshot-feeders.
Some higher-end photo scanners come with a detachable automatic document feeder (ADF) for moving images past the platen, but even so, in that design images lay flat while the scanning mechanism moves under them. Sheet-fed scanners like the FastFoto FF-640, on the other hand, pass the originals over the scanning sensor (as well as under one, with single-pass scanners like this one), scanning as the image moves by. And that hasn’t always been considered the best way to scan photos, for a number of reasons, but primarily because an ADF can damage your original prints.
That said, as we’ll get into later, the scan quality here is better than acceptable, except when scanning documents for optical character recognition (OCR). While it can scan images and documents at multiple sizes, it’s best suited for scanning piles of snapshots of the 4×6- and 5×7-inch variety. However, as we’ll get into in detail, its first-version scanning and cataloging software is a bit light on features and not very forgiving.
That’s not to say that the FastFoto FF-640 isn’t good at what it’s designed to do. It’s highly useful and well suited to exactly what it’s designed for: scanning vast stacks of snapshots. But we, like a few other reviewers (including Tony Hoffman at our sister site PCMag.com) found ourselves wishing for several other features and greater flexibility, as well as a lower price.
And that’s the rub. At this scanner’s $649.99 list price, you’d need to have a lot of photos (in the several thousands, minimum) to scan to make this purchase worthwhile economically. (Depending on how many you have, there may be less expensive ways to get your photos scanned in bulk, which we’ll detail at the end of this review.) The ideal situation, we think, would be passing the FastFoto FF-640 around between friends and family members who have lots of photos to digitize, or perhaps keeping it on hand as a document scanner after you get all of your photos in the digital realm.
Epson needs to do some work on the non-photo document side of this scanner, though. Overall, the FastFoto FF-640 is a capable scanner good at what it’s designed for, but it does suffer from some first-version blues. And we’d like it a lot better if it cost a few hundred dollars less. (At this writing in mid-December 2016, we hadn’t seen it discounted off its MSRP yet.)