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3 document scanners: Move your data from paper to pixels

Brian Nadel | March 8, 2013
While the dream of a paper-free world has yet to materialize (assuming it ever will), using scanners to store digital copies of hardcopy documents has become de rigueur for most businesses, from enterprise-level operations to single-person startups.

With Ethernet ports, along with 802.11n Wi-Fi, the Brother ImageCenter offers the best connection abilities of the three. There's a big bonus on the side of the scanner: two USB ports, one for connecting the scanner to a computer and the other for connecting a USB storage device to the scanner.

At a Glance

Brother ImageCenter ADS-2500W


Price: $799.99

Pros: Touchscreen control; Wi-Fi and Ethernet connections; 8 preset scan profiles; Windows, Mac and Linux support; tablet and phone apps

Cons: Higher price than other desktop scanners; need to download Windows 8 drivers separately

The scanner's software works with Windows PCs, Macs and Linux computers. (Note: While the included CD contains all you'll need for Windows 7 or Mac OS X systems, I had to download and install software for it to work with a Windows 8 computer. Brother says it will update its installation CD to include the new software in the coming months.)

For Windows users, the system comes with Brother Control Center 4.0 (for general settings and profiles), Nuance PDF Converter Professional 7, Nuance PaperPort 12 for document management (a good organizer that displays the scans as thumbnails and allows some minor editing) and Presto BizCard 6, a contact management system. (Note: Some of the software included is one or two versions behind the current versions being sold separately.)

Mac users get Brother ControlCenter 2, BizCard 5 and, to add more options to the scanning process, Presto PageManager 9.

Phone and tablet bases are covered with free Brother iPrint&Scan apps for iOS, Android and Windows Phone devices.

Performance and quality

A good all-around performer, the Brother ImageCenter was able to turn a stack of 10 pages into digital files at the rate of 18.3ppm and scan a magazine cover at 3.9ppm, results that put it between the faster Fujitsu ScanSnap and slower Panasonic. Five business cards were scanned at the rate of 17.5ppm, the slowest of the group.

The Brother ImageCenter's scans were pinpoint sharp, but often it scanned both sides of a page even when the second side was blank -- something the others didn't do. It successfully scanned a thick driver's license but business cards set up horizontally often got jammed in the feeding mechanism. They worked fine inserted vertically.

Bottom line

The Brother ImageCenter ADS-2500W is not cheap. In fact, it lists for $800, over $300 more than either of the other two scanners reviewed here. (Retail prices range from $644 to $1,306.)

However, the Brother ImageCenter does so much and does it so easily that if you need to archive and organize a lot of documents, it could be worth the price for you. The Brother ImageCenter outclasses everything around it.


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