Setup is more than a little unusual. Rather than a member of your IT staff coming along, entering a pass code and setting up the ScanStation 500 from the touch screen, you have to start with the supplied configuration software. Run this on any PC on the network the scanner is attached to and you can produce configuration files for it. Each person is given a configuration file on a USB stick, so that when they plug in, the scanner knows which is their home folder for saving scans, what their preferred scan settings are and what permissions they hold.
A system administrator needs first to set up his own configuration, save it to a USB drive and plug that into the scanner. The Scan Station 500 then asks if you want to overwrite the blank configuration it has by default, and automatically looks for an IP address from your network's DHCP server. Once it has established itself, it can send scanned documents to the folder set for you in the configuration. It can also scan to the USB drive, if company security policies permit. At switch-on, the scanner plays a little country and western riff, which it reinvents at switch off. This, and the system of USB drives, seems to suggest Kodak has a sense of humour.
The scanner itself can scan one or both sides of a document in a single pass, as it has twin heads, positioned over and under the paper path. We tested it with a 20-page document of assorted black and colour pages, with seven of them double-sided. The scanner can produce electronic documents as tif, jpg, pdf or wav files. That last one isn't a mis-print, as you can add voice attachments to scanned files, explaining what they are.
Scan resolution can be set to anything between 75dpi and 600dpi and the scanner automatically deskews and crops, as well as detecting blank pages and multi-feeds. It read out test job in 43 seconds, giving it a duplex scanning speed of around 38 sides per minute; not at all a bad speed. The scanner feeds sheets from the bottom of the stack, so page order is maintained.
By default, page images came through clean, but there were a number of back-sides of pages, which should have been detected as blank. The scan brightness can be lowered to counter this, but it could be better by default. No OCR software is supplied with the scanner, so it's up to you to interface the images you scan with your preferred application.
Although the use of USB drives to control user accounts is innovative, we're not at all sure it's as convenient or as secure as having the details stored on flash memory in the scanner and accessed by password. USB drives are notoriously easy to lose and passwords, although a pain to remember, are much less costly to update. The scanner itself is quick, easy to use and easily able to service even a busy workgroup.