Pros: Small; extremely versatile; copes well with different paper sizes and conditions
Cons: Occasionally stalled during scanning
Bottomline: A decent enterprise class document management for small offices and the home
Given that you can pick up a high-resolution flatbed scanner for a tenth of the price of this product, Kodak’s little Scanmate i1120 may seem expensive, even given the discount of more than £100 online. But flatbeds are not suitable for high-volume scanning.
The Scanmate is designed for small offices that need to process up to 500 documents a day and is also suitable for reducing cabinets of paper to searchable DVD discs. Scanning is not the main task, as most of the work involves organising the paper flow, filing the results, and perhaps putting them through some other process, such as optical character recognition (OCR).
The Scanmate packs a 50-page sheet feeder and can scan documents – both sides at once if necessary – at up to 20 pages a minute, depending on size and colour preferences. It comes with Presto’s Bizcard 5 software, for scanning business cards, and Nuance’s Paper Port 11 and Omnipage 15, turning it into a fully-fledged OCR-enabled document-management system.
The Scanmate is also Twain compatible, giving it an edge over Fujitsu’s similar (and very good) Scansnap, which has to be used in conjunction with proprietary software. It’s about the size of a small photo printer, and the initial set-up is a matter of plugging in the power and USB cables and loading the software. On the front of the Scanmate are two buttons.
One is used to navigate to one of nine tasks indicated by number on a tiny LCD panel and the other launches the task. Default tasks include common operations such as Copy and Print, but you can set up your own and assign them numbers.
Tasks can direct scans to applications, including Omnipage, which itself has highly-configurable workflows, so very complex operations can be performed at the click of a button. This saves training costs as well as time.
Scanning can also be done within applications – most conveniently from Paperport because it allows you to control where documents are stored. It is set to scan US Letter size by default, so it will clip the edges off European A4 pages, which will confuse many new users; software this clever should surely be able to adjust itself automatically.
One other small bug prevented this bundle from getting five stars in every category. Occasionally, scanning suddenly stopped and we got a message saying Paperport could no longer see the scanner. Paperport recovered well, saving what had been scanned up to that point, and talked to the scanner after it had been restarted.
This looks like a driver glitch and something we’d expect to be patched in the near future. The Scanmate coped well with a lot of different sizes and conditions of paper, jamming just once in a couple of thousand sheets – and then only because the paper was crumpled. Jams are easily cleared by pressing a button that opens the front to expose the entire paper path.
We scanned hundreds of 30-year-old typewritten pages, faded and heavily annotated, and managed to OCR them with impressive results. The unedited OCR text with its scattered mistakes is good enough for simple indexing. You can save in a format called ‘searchable PDF’, which includes both a page image and a linked translation. Keyword searches will almost certainly locate the passage you need.
Files can be saved as standard PDFs, which allows you to correct the text in a PDF editor. If you don’t need to keep the original layout, it’s best to save as text or Word format for easier editing. Other output options include TIFF, JPEG, and RTF. If you’ve a large pile of documents that need digitising, Kodak’s latest Scanmate will definitely help you out.