Kodak i2900 £2000
21st Nov 2013 | 14:04
When a run-of-the-mill flatbed just doesn't cut it, is this the scanner you should turn to?
For decades we've been told the paperless office is just around the corner, and that soon, all documents, brochures and mailings will be handled electronically. Yet despite increased use of PDFs for large documents such as product manuals, email for much of what used to be sent by post and USB sticks or optical discs replacing the traditional brochure or press pack, the fully paperless office still eludes us. Things are still printed. And they're also still scanned.
Kodak's high-end i2900 Scanner is intended for business use, for the busy office where a lot of document scanning is done. It's far from cheap – at the time of writing, the best price on Amazon is £1,839 – but it packs in numerous unique and pro-level features that really help the high-needs user.
For those with lesser needs, there are plenty of cheaper scanners and multifunction devices to choose from. Kodak's own ScanMate i940 is a compact, portable sheet feed scanner that can be powered from a single USB port. Just the thing for scanning on the go, and you can get it for under £250. For film scanning, the Reflecta ProScan 7200 gives better results than most flatbed scanners, and is very competitively priced at around £300.
Fujitsu's ScanSnap S1500M is expensive at around £500, but it's a fast, reliable sheet-feed scanner. If you prefer a flatbed model, the Epson Perfection 4490 Photo is, as you would expect, very good for photos and is quite reasonably priced. Of course, if scanning is only an occasional requirement, you might be better off with a multifunction printer, combining printing, scanning and photocopying features.
But if you need a really powerful scanner that's robust enough for a busy office, the Kodak i2900 better suits your needs. It's incredibly powerful, and packed with features that prove a real boon for power users, and with a recommended daily volume of up to 10,000 pages for the sheet feed scanner and 100 pages for its flatbed scanning utility, it's certainly ideal for those with huge quantities to scan. But the scanner itself is far from huge. With a depth of 37.1cm (with input tray closed), a width of 43.2cm and a height of 23.8cm, it has a surprisingly small footprint.
The Kodak i2900 is two scanners in one; there's a sheet feed scanner with an automatic document feeder that can hold up to 250 sheets, and a flatbed scanner for books, magazines and other such projects which you can't run through the scanner as single pages. The sheet feed scanner can handle pages of up to A4 in size. Out of the box the flatbed scanner is A4 too, but you can buy an optional Kodak A3 Size Flatbed Accessory to take it up to A3 size.
The sheet feed scanner is clearly built for speed. We're promised up to 60 pages per minute in colour or black-and-white at 200 or 300dpi, though exact speeds depend on the driver, application software and computer on which you're doing the scanning. The input ADF is at the front of the scanner. The tray on which the documents sit automatically rises to make sure the paper is fed into the scanner in exactly the right way. The output tray is on the top of the scanner, but if you're scanning a very long document or something printed on thick paper or card, which could prove problematic for a rotary scanner such as this, you can opt to use the rear-exit paper path. Naturally this takes up more room, as you need to keep the back of the scanner clear, but it's a useful feature all the same.
Another useful feature is the book-edge flatbed scanner, whereby the scannable area comes all the way to the front edge of the scanner. This means instead of placing a book or perfect-bound magazine flat on the glass and pressing down as hard as you dare, you can place the inside of the spine against the edge of the scanner, allowing the page you're not scanning – and indeed the rest of the book – to hang down without getting in the way. Watch Kodak's YouTube video [http://youtu.be/X_4IzAOTmsg] of the scanner in action and you'll see what we mean. The reason it's so welcome a feature is that when scanning books on a standard flatbed scanner, the image tends to 'curl' as the section where the pages meet (known in publishing as 'the drain') doesn't sit properly on the glass.
Using the scanner's Smart Touch control panel, you can streamline repetitive tasks, select output formats such as PDF or jpeg and more. Connectivity is through USB.
You can't fault the Kodak i2900 for build quality. It's extremely well made, and robust enough to take everything the busy office can throw at it. Although clearly built with utility rather than style in mind, it's far from ugly. It has a relatively small footprint too, but remember that if you're scanning card or very thick paper, you'll have to leave room at the back for the rear exit path.
The flatbed section's to-the-edge scanning is certainly very welcome. Testing it with a chunky hardback book of around 400 pages, by placing the edge of the page that meets the spine at the edge of the glass (which is also the leading edge of the flatbed scanner), and allowing the portion of the book that's not resting on the glass to dangle, you can get a really clean and flat scan with none of the distortion, curl or light bleed associated with placing a book flat down on a standard flatbed scanner. If you regularly scan books in this way, it could prove a real boon.
It's a great sheet-feed scanner too. We were especially impressed by the way the input tray adjusts its height according to how many pages you've put in it, making sure the top page is always lying flat as it goes under the rollers. It's Duplex, so it can scan both sides of a page on a single pass through the scanner, greatly improving its scanning speed on large, double-sided documents.
Talking of scanning speed, the promised 60 pages a minute proved pretty accurate. We scanned a hundred pages of one-sided A4, monochrome and text only, in one minute, 45 seconds, which works out at just over 57 pages a minute. This is impressively fast, and will do much to speed up your workflows if you have a lot of scanning to do. It feeds well, resisting all our attempts to cause a paper jam by putting the paper in the input tray at an angle. Folded and even badly creased pages were scanned efficiently too.
The Kodak i2900 has a few drawbacks. For some reason, there are no drivers for OS X, so if you're using a Mac, this isn't the scanner for you. This is a surprising omission considering how useful it could prove in a busy Mac-based design studio, for example. Also, you can only set up nine custom presets, adjusting factors such as output format (RTF, JPEG, PDF, etc), whether the scan is colour or black-and-white and whether the documents are single-sided or Duplex is required. This is annoying. But if you're looking for a robust, efficient and versatile scanner for the office – and don't mind paying the asking price – you could do a lot worse than invest in this one.
The Kodak i2900 isn't your average scanner. It's very much an office-oriented machine, and is ideal for small to medium businesses that do a lot of scanning. It can handle a great deal of volume, with an automatic document feeder that can hold up to 250 sheets, and a versatile flatbed scanner with some innovative features.
The i2900 is incredibly fast, with a promised scan speed of 60 pages per minute. In our tests, it was only two or three pages shy of this figure. It can do Duplex scanning in a single pass through the scanner too, so if you've a huge pile of pages that are printed on both sides, you can do them in double-quick time. An innovative flatbed scanner is ideal for books and perfect-bound magazines. By taking the scannable area right up to the edge of the scanner, it lets you place a bound page flat on the glass, instead of having an awkward ridge in the spine that distorts the scan. It enjoys a robust build quality and a relatively small footprint too.
It's very expensive, currently selling for around £1850 online. You really need to do an awful lot of scanning to justify the outlay. You could of course argue that a scanner like this is only intended for those who do a lot of scanning, making the criticism moot, but at a lower price point it might well have appealed to offices that do large scanning jobs every now and again.
We wish it had Mac drivers too. Leaving out OS X seems a strange decision, considering how useful it could've proved to a creative studio. Perhaps Mac drivers will come later, along with improved Windows drivers that allow more than nine presets. The support software as a whole is nothing to write home about, with a below-par desktop app too. But then most people will scan from within a third-party application anyway.
The Kodak i2900 is a robust, versatile and capable scanner, but it's also expensive. There's plenty to like about it, and not much to dislike (as long as you're not a Mac user), but given its high asking price, it will be restricted to heavy-duty office use. Of course, that's its intended market, but maybe if the price falls it will also find a home in businesses where a big, important scan job crops up every now and then.