IF YOU NEED TO TRANSFORM thousands of pages of information from heavy, insecure, and hard-to-handle paper into digital files, take a look at the Kodak Alaris i3500 sheet scanner, from Rochester, N.Y.-based Kodak Alaris Inc. Built like a tank to process up to 25,000 scans per day, what looks like a midsize monochrome laser printer is actually the fastest sheet-fed scanner we’ve ever seen. This is a moving van for paper-based companies looking to get into document management, or just get rid of rows of stuffed file cabinets.
The big brother of a family of scanners in the i3000 series, this scan master zips up to 110 pages per minute, color or black and white, through the 300-page automatic document feeder. Sibling sheet scanners are the i3200 (50 ppm) and i3400 (90 ppm). The i3250 (50 ppm) and i3450 (90 ppm) models open up for access to a book-edge flatbed scanner as well.
Setting It Up
Hefty at 35 pounds, the i3500 is a serious office machine. Not surprising, considering that the 56-page, 8.5 x 11 paper manual includes maintenance details for heavy-duty office equipment.
Be sure to put the i3500 close to your document workstation because the only connection is USB, not Ethernet or Wi-Fi. That makes sense, since this scanner feeds so fast you would never have time to get back to your desk before you needed to load the next batch.
Various drivers and utilities install from the software DVD along with the company’s Capture Pro software. We installed the full trial edition that appeared to be fully functional except for the DEMO watermark on saved PDF files. If a company is going to spend thousands on a scanner, they’ll likely get the official software.
But if not, never fear. PaperPort 14 from Nuance works perfectly well with the i3500, and pages zipped through the scanner just as fast using that software as with the Kodak Alaris app.
The Smart Touch utility addresses the hardware settings for scan jobs. There are nine scan shortcut options you can control via software or buttons and a small LCD screen on the scanner. Presets range from Color PDF or JPEG; Black and White PDF, RTF, and TIFF (single or multipage); E-mail PDF; and custom settings. You can also set the scan destination for file; application; specific apps like Box, Evernote, Google Drive, and SharePoint Online; printer/fax printer; or WebDAV (Web Distributed Authoring and Versioning). File categories include all manner of PDF and image types as well as Microsoft Word and Excel.
The work mode for the i3500 is either jobs or batches, or batches of jobs. Preset your output directories and make some other workflow decisions and you’re just about ready to scan.
Kodak’s Capture Pro application takes a bit to configure, but does a lot of document and image processing tricks. As many details as there are to configure, we were amazed by the easy look of the software’s Quick Start setting: three colorful buttons reading Ready to Scan, Scan to PDF, and Scan to email.
More typical is the regular view, showing a portion of the menu items and some pages scanned for optical character recognition (OCR). Each page here includes a color and black-and-white image. OCR and indexing of document text works best in black and white, so many settings grab both for each page. You can filter the display and output to show one or the other, and set input for just color, grayscale, or black and white.
The Unit in Operation
Pages zoom through the Kodak i3500 zip, zip, zip. Rated at 110 pages per minute, or almost two a second, that seems exactly right. Even with 100 or so pages whizzing through, we never had a misfeed, even with flimsy magazine pages. You can feed in pages top or side first, and A3 pages at 12 inches will scan sideways.
The progress bar for image processing during and after scanning moves quickly, so plenty of image handling must be done in the scanner itself. The pages pop up in various software apps right away.
Image quality ranges from very good to outstanding. The automatic deskew feature works well, or else the feed never misfired, because every page was straight. Front and back page are captured in one pass, and the Capture Pro software, once configured, does a good job organizing your scans.
Have pages from typewriters or old systems you need to digitize? The i3500 will help. The Capture Pro software uses OCR on certain defined sections of scanned pages, like invoice numbers for later review. But ABBYY FineReader and even Adobe’s basic software turned scanned text into 99 percent clean copy. FineReader did a good job ignoring written comments around and over the text. It wasn’t perfect, but better than expected.
We all complain about paper but customers still create, store, and need to manage those piles. If you have stacks of printed pages, consider feeding them to this scan monster.
Take a close look at the Kodak Alaris i3500 if you have law firms, medical groups, insurance companies, or schools on your client list. Bureaucracies bloated with paper are perfect targets for this beast. You may not completely revamp the bureaucracy, but you will convert its paper stacks into digital files in short order with the Kodak Alaris i3500 scanner.