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.)
The Brother ImageCenter ADS-2000e ($349.99) is an apt, low-priced sheet-fed document scanner designed for low- to midrange-volume scanning in a small office, and it should also make a good personal document scanner. Like the Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula DR-C225, it comes with an assortment of top-tier scanning and optical character recognition (OCR) software, as well as document and business card management applications. While its scanning speeds come close to matching Brother’s ratings, it’s a bit slow at saving to searchable PDF. It’s still fast enough for the price, though, and its OCR accuracy approaches that of higher-priced competitors, making it a solid budget-friendly alternative to the Canon DR-C225.
A step up from the $50-less-expensive HP ScanJet Enterprise 5000 s4, the ScanJet Enterprise Flow 7000 s3 Sheet-Feed Scanner ($849.99) scans faster and saves to image PDF quicker than many costlier competitors. But like many document scanners, including our Editors’ Choice, the Epson WorkForce DS-860, the ScanJet 7000 slows down considerably when saving scans to searchable PDF format—so much so that it’s not that much faster than the significantly lower-rated ScanJet 5000 when performing the same task. Even so, unlike some other competing models (including the DS-860), the ScanJet 7000 comes with both document management and business card archiving software, making it a terrific value and our new top choice for moderate to heavy-volume scanning in a medium-size office or workgroup.
The Canon imageFormula ScanFront 400 ($1,995) is comparable in speed and duty cycle to several much less expensive document scanners, including the Editors’ Choice Epson WorkForce DS-860. Unlike most, however, it is a “networked” scanner that has no USB port for connecting directly to a single PC, though it does have three USB 2.0 ports for connecting peripherals, such as a mouse, keyboard, and thumb drive. It resembles other models in the ScanFront family, with a control panel consisting of a touch screen that acts as an interface to a full-blown tablet-like operating system. And, like some other Canon document scanners we’ve reviewed, it saves to image PDF and searchable PDF formats faster than most competitors.
.The HP ScanJet Enterprise Flow 5000 s4 Sheet-Feed Scanner ($799.99) is a relatively fast and capable scanner designed for midsize offices. It’s not quite as speedy as our Editors’ Choice, the Epson WorkForce DS-860,, but it does scan and save to both image and searchable PDF formats at a good clip, not to mention that it lists for nearly $400 less than the Epson model. The ScanJet 5000 also comes with both business card and document management software, which the Epson and several other competitors do not. Given its low price, speed, software bundle, and accuracy, it’s a good choice for moderate to heavy-duty scanning in a medium-size office.
The Canon imageFormula DR-M160II ($1,195) is an able high-volume document scanner designed for medium-size offices. Although its list price is $100 higher than that of our current Editors’ Choice, the Epson WorkForce DS-860, it surpasses that scanner in some key ways. In the end though, its smaller automatic document feeder (ADF), difficulty living up to its (slightly slower-rated) scanning speeds in our tests, and occasional paper handling mishaps keep it from being our top choice.
Camarillo, July 13, 2016 – For technology journalists, especially information technology writers, one of the milestones of one’s career is to write for a specific technology publication. In computer technology, often that publication is PC Magazine, or PCMag, as it has become better known online. Beginning this week, in addition to the reviews on Computer Shopper and About.com, William Harrel will begin reviewing printers, as well as the occasional scanner and projector, for PCMag.
“Since PCMag and Computer Shopper have been owned by the same publisher for some time now, Harrel says, “it’s kind of a natural progression from the smaller, lesser-known publications up the food chain to the better-known (better paying) ones.
The contracts are signed; the testbed computer has arrived, as have the first few review units—all ready to go. Look for the reviews at www.pcmag.com or here at CommTechWatch.com.
Inkjet printers are amazing technology—microscopic nozzles spraying tiny droplets of ink in precisely manipulated patterns. That R&D isn’t cheap, though, and a whole other set of elaborate endeavors on the side have sought to maintain the sky-high cost of that ink. It’s printer manufacturers’ main path to profit. In some ways (and much less conspicuously), it’s akin to the pricing shenanigans of the gasoline market.
Today’s EcoTank all-in-one (AIO) review unit, the $1,199.99-MSRP WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 All-in-One Printer, is a bit different, and a bit bigger. It has compartments for holding huge bags of ink on both sides…
The flagship model of the EcoTank series to date, the WorkForce WF-R4640 is, like the other printers in this series, essentially an existing AIO retrofitted with the EcoTank ink storage and plumbing. In this case, rather than refilling reservoirs from relatively large bottles of ink, here you simply swap out an empty ink bag for a full one. We’ll look closely at this configuration, how well it works, and the economics a little later.
In this case, the WorkForce Pro WF-R4640 is at the core Epson’s $399.99-MSRP WorkForce Pro WF-4640 All-in-One, the two-input-drawer version of one of our Editors’ Choice recipients, theWorkForce Pro WF-4630 All-in-One. (We should point out that at the time of this writing in late April 2016, we found the WorkForce WF-4640 for as low as $270 and the WF-4630 for as low as $200.)
In our analysis, the WorkForce WF-4640 was a good choice for upgrading to an EcoTank model. Keep in mind, though, that what Epson has essentially done is retrofit the WF-4640 to use the EcoTank system and then multiply the price by a factor of three or four, from a $399.99 list price (or $270 typical street price) to $1,199 (which was both the MSRP and street price when we wrote this).
When viewed from the perspective of the past couple paragraphs, the WorkForce WF-R4640 mightsound like an economic enigma—who would pay four times the price for essentially the same printer? Our analysis so far has said nothing about the huge, 20,000-page ink bags that come with the printer—enough ink, according to Epson, to last for two years.
Two years? Really? Well, that all depends on where and how you might be using this printer. One office’s first two years’ worth of ink is another’s first two weeks’ appetizer.
If you printed 20,000 pages over the course of two years (730 days), that comes out to about 27 pages per day. If you back out weekends, holidays, and any number of other reasons you might not print on certain days, let’s be generous and say the ink bags will print 50 pages per day.
The printer can certainly handle that. A 50-page-per-day load, even on every day of a 30-day month, is far, far below the WF-R4640’s 45,000-page monthly duty cycle (Epson’s rating for the most pages the printer ought to handle in a given month). In other words, if you actually pushed it to or close to its monthly rating, you would run out of ink in the first few weeks.
The good news in all this is that when it comes time to buy new ink bags, as you’ll see a bit later in this review, the per-page cost of ink is quite low. Even color pages come in well under what we consider competitive cost-per-page (CPP) figures. But then the CPPs, while certainly impressive, aren’t the only reason to buy this high-volume workhorse. Remember that the WorkForce model from which it has been adapted is a fine office-centric AIO in its own right. It had plenty of reasons—good print speed and print quality, mobile connectivity options, not to mention a strong set of productivity and convenience features—to make it a Computer Shopper Editors’ Choice recipient, too.
It just comes down to the price, and how soon you think you might burn through 20,000 pages of printing. We liked this printer, but we recognize that $1,200 is a lot to pay for an inkjet printer of this caliber, in essence, a printer that at the core has the features of a $300-to-$400 model. If you use your printer—and we mean churn out thousands of prints and copies each month—when it comes time to buy new ink, and every time after that, you will save big. The cost per page is far more economical after you’ve exhausted that first set.
The more and the longer you use the WF-R4640, the better a value it is compared to some other competing models capable of the same print volume. But if it’ll take you years and years to drain the first set of tanks, this is not the right printer for you.
Read the entire review at Computer Shopper.