- Review Price: £364.94
Sheet feed business scanners lead a very different life from their home and photography counterparts. They have no glass flatbed, but instead work by feeding single sheets through at high speed, for archival and Optical Character Recognition (OCR).
Kodak’s ScanMate i1120 is a mid-range business scanner, rated at 20ppm and duplex, capable of scanning both sides of the paper in a single pass. It has a conventional design for this type of scanner, with a near-vertical tray at the rear and a near-horizontal one at the front. There are just two buttons on the front panel, one to start a scan and the other, linked to a seven segment number display, providing ‘SmartTouch’ facilities – described further on.
The final button on the front panel, more of a catch, releases the scan head, which swings forward in case of paper jams, though we had no problems with jams during our review. At the back are sockets for the external, black-block power supply, a pity this couldn’t be internal, and USB, to connect to a local PC. There’s a power switch here, too.
Set up is pretty straightforward after you’ve clipped in the input and output trays. Paper feeds from the rear to the front of the scanner in a similar way to many inkjet printers, though it makes a fairly sharp turn out of the bottom of the scanner and onto the output tray. This means there’s quite a bit of friction between each new sheet feeding out and the ones already resting on the tray, which leads to scruffy spreads of paper.
Loading paper is a little less intuitive than you might expect, too. The ScanMate i1120 considers the front of each page to be the one facing the back of the scanner, while the back of each page is the one facing forwards. Until you get the hang of this, you may end up scanning a lot of blank back sides ??” fairly sure there’s a better way of putting that…
Kodak bundles a lot of industry-leading software with this scanner, including Nuance Paperport 11 for document handling and Omnipage 15 for OCR. This is the latest version of Paperport and the latest-but-one version of Omnipage, so you get nearly all the benefits of the latest feature-sets. There’s also a copy of Presto! Bizcard 5, which handles the scanning of business cards and maintains a contact database of their details. At typical retail prices, this trio of support software alone would cost around £120, so you’re getting a lot added value here.
Kodak’s own SmartTouch software is a clever way of pre-defining a common set of scan jobs. There are nine pre-defined job types already set up, things like low resolution black and white scan, medium resolution scan for OCR and high resolution (600dpi) full-colour scan.
Each of these job types can be configured for your own needs, so you can specify single-sided or duplex scans, set the resolution or define a folder for the output. You then just set the job number on the scanner’s display and hit the scan button: very quick and easy.
Kodak claims 20ppm for this scanner at 200dpi, a resolution suitable for archival as PDF files. Under test we bettered this, completing our 20-page scan bundle in 57 seconds. This is only half the story, though, as the pages are scanned to a buffer while being converted to PDFs, which takes a further 1:44 – still reasonably quick.
We scanned the same bundle at 300dpi, so we could OCR them, and this took 1:56 to scan, with the PDF documents ready for recognition after 3:30. Recognition times depend on the complexity of the page layout and usually involve dealing with recognition queries by inspection, so we quote times just for scanning.
We suffered a number of multi-sheet mis-feeds during testing and had to manually separate the offending sheets and rescan. There’s no ultrasonic multi-feed detection on the ScanMate i1120, so the only way you can easily detect problems is by checking the number of sheets scanned is the same as the number you fed in.
Scan quality is generally good and even at 200dpi the results, which are auto-straightened and can be auto-enhanced, are very readable, sometimes more so than the originals if there’s, for example, background spatter on a received fax page. With OCR, it’s best to go through a two-stage process, scanning the documents in as a 300dpi PDF file in Paperport and then dragging the document to Omnipage for recognition.
Despite some rather odd design decisions, like the orientation of page backs and fronts and the sharp turn pages are forced to make when fed to the output tray, the ScanMate i1120 does a good job with most scan jobs. It suits a moderate duty cycle, for archival to PDF documents or for OCR to live, editable pages. It’s not quite as slick as its more expensive competitors, but then it’s not as expensive as them, either.
Score in detail
Scan Quality 8
Scan Speed 8