Check your favorite office products site and you'll find well over a 100 sheetfed scanner models available. Did you miss the memo the rest of the world got to embrace electronic documents? So many product options does indicate thousands of businesses are converting paper to digital files. If you're not doing that, at least in small projects, you will find yourself behind the digital document 8-ball before long. To catch up, consider the Brother ADS-2500We scanner. It offers similar performance to some better known brands, and ups the ante with a color touch screen.
The Brother ADS-2500We uses the same "form follows function" design as other scanners we've reviewed like the Fujitsu iX500 and the Epson WorkForce DS-510. It looks vaguely triangular, with papers to be scanned sitting high to feed down through the box and out the front. Pricing is similar to these other units, although the 2500We is the top end of the Brother ADS family because it connects via USB cable, Ethernet LAN, or Wi-Fi, and includes the color touch screen. If you don't need all the connection flexibility or the touchscreen, one of the other Brother models (ADS-1000W, ADS-1500W, ADS-2000, and ADS-2000e) may fit your needs better.
Installation and configuration follows the standard scenario: load software on your PC, connect via USB cable, and start the configuration process. Brother offers ways to link to your Wi-Fi via the more automated AOSS (AirStation One-Touch Secure System) method of pressing AOSS buttons on your wireless router and the Brother ADS-2500We at the same time and let them arrange connection details, but USB is more reliable and faster.
Plenty of useful software comes with the ADS-2500We, including Nuance PaperPort, Nuance PDF Viewer, PaperPort Image Printer, and NewSoft Presto! BizCard. Similar software comes with all sheetfed scanners, but Brother also includes trial of their OmniJoin online meeting software service, which is an interesting addition. If you want us to review that, just let us know. We did have to restart the computer to solidify all the installed software.
The next step was simple: load a sheet of paper, hit the To PC icon on the color touch screen and watch the paper slide through quickly. Seconds later, a PDF of both sides of the paper was onscreen ready to be printed, emailed, OCR'd or whatever else we wanted to do with the digital image.
Engaging the wired Ethernet connection option was little trouble once we figured out the admin software considers that a different scanner than the USB scanner, even if they are physically the same device. Makes sense when you think about it, because you may have multiple networked scanners across the company, and you'll need to ID each one. The admin software lets you give specific names to each device to make management simpler.
The control software, ControlCenter4, has two modes: Home and Advanced. We chose advanced, which turns out to have a friendlier and more modern look than the "home" option which has a more old-fashioned look.
The ConrolCenter 4 software includes big icons to click that handle preconfigured scanning tasks, including Image, OCR, E-mail, File, and Print. Yes, many people scan a page to print a copy when their copier doesn't work or is too far away. When you hover the cursor on one of the icons, the job details appear to the left (such as JPEG, 300x300 dpi 24bit Color Auto) to tell you the resolution, color support, and that it will automatically scan the back of the page if there's something there.
You configure these details in the drill-down screen that lets you choose:
- File type (JPG, TIFF, multiple PDF options, PNG, and XPS for XML Paper Specification)
- Target Application (IrfanView in our case, but the software handily collects the most likely candidates for you based on the software on your computer)
- Destination file path and naming options, including time and date stamping to give scans following a naming template individual names
- Scan type (24-bit color, BW, two gray options, or auto), and more.
- Brightness and contrast with sliders or a numeric value
- And you can drill down even into even more detail if necessary.
The OCR software turned a contract into a text file that seemed to grab every word in normal text perfectly. Graphics and funny fonts still confuse OCR software, but this worked darn well. Searchable PDF results have similar limitations in that if the software can't read the text clearly, your searches will be compromised.