ScanFront 400 review

The Canon imageFORMULA ScanFront 400 is a compact, fast and versatile networked document scanner that is small enough to sit on your desk or in any corner of your office and yet powerful to support multiple users while scanning to several destinations at the same time.

Its 10.1-inch WSVGA TFT LCD touch panel display provides a tablet-like experience along with the option to operate with a mouse and keyboard when connected through its USB 2.0 ports.

I’ve spent the last few weeks using this scanner in our office but before I give more details of my review, I would like to emphasize that this is a “networked” scanner that does not connect directly to a single PC nor has wireless capabilities.

Design and Functions

With its trays closed, the ScanFront 400 has a measurement in HWD of 9.06-inch x 12-inch x 11.1-inch and weighs 9.92 pounds. It has a detachable automatic document feeder (ADF) and a folding tray that acts as a cover for the LCD touch panel. When both trays are drawn-out, the scanner doubles in size but yet small enough to fit on desks.

Full view

The rear of the scanner has a Kensington Slot that can be used to physically secure it with a key chain or lock to prevent theft, a 24 V DC power connector, a LAN port to connect Ethernet network cable and two USB ports that can be used to connect a USB mouse and a USB keyboard. On the right side is another USB port that can be used to connect a USB flash drive.

Connection

The ScanFront 400 feeder can hold up to 60 sheets and can scan documents between 14 to 57 pounds in weight to six destinations – E-mail, FTP, Fax, Shared Folder, USB memory and Printer – which can be selected on the 10.1-inch touch screen.

Setup

After connecting the Ethernet cable and power cord, the scanner can be booted up by pressing the power button which is conveniently located on the front next to the touch screen. Boot up time was about 1 minute and 15 seconds. The home screen has the icons for the six different destinations to where documents can be scanned to along with a sidebar which provides access to the Administrator settings. In here you can setup users, address book, configure the device, update system settings, access system administration functions, setup server details, view operation history and setup certificates and private key.

Interface

Updating the administrator settings was somewhat complicated and tedious due to the wide range of options and technical details needed to complete the setup. To get this up and running you need to be knowledgeable in networking and have some level of technical comprehension. The setup instructions are documented in the manual which came with the scanner but it was not useful as it relates to an older version of the operating system that was quite different than the one installed on the scanner. I later came across a revised soft copy of the manual on the CD that was provided. Even with this updated copy of instructions the setup was still difficult to complete. I would recommend that you hand this over to your system administrator to assist in setting up the scanner.

Performance

After overcoming the initial hump in setup, scanning was a breeze. Scanning to the different destinations was fast, quiet and secure. I received some remarkable results that were even better than the ratings of the scanner.

At 150 dpi, both in colour and black and white, it scanned 50 pages per minute (ppm) in single-sided or simplex mode, and 102 images per minute (ipm) which is doubled-sided or in the duplex mode.
When scanned at 300 dpi, I noticed that there was a lag and the output was 32 ppm for both colour and black and white. At 600 dpi, the scanner was able to complete only 5 pages per minute.

One thing to note when scanning thinner sheets at a lower dpi is that the output tray does not act as a good catchment to stack the document scanned together resulting in it being scattered.

I did some tests on business cards as well, for which the ScanFront 400 was able to complete the scanning of 80 cards per minute. The caveat here though is that due to the thickness of the business cards only about 40 cards could be placed on the document feed tray. Scanning of plastic cards was fast which is a good feature to have for maintaining a digital copy of driver’s license and credit cards to suit the purposes of different industries.

Scanned plastic card

The ScanFront 400 is capable of processing up to 6,000 sheets per day at up to 200 dpi and can scan both sides of a document through a single pass which saves time. In addition, the device can scan different document types, different thickness, cards and passports. For passport scanning, it is recommended to use the optional carrier sheet which protects the document while at the same time ensures performance.

Tests conducted for Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in converting scans to editable text at 150 dpi produced quite a few errors for 8 and 10 points type but when scanned at 300 dpi, there were no errors.

Overall, the scanning performance is impressive and I like how the touch-screen gives a preview of scanned documents which makes it easier to ensure that information is captured accurately.

Uses and Security

The ScanFront 400 allows users to capture documents in both field and office locations in a smooth and secure manner which can be shared through the six different destinations. Industries that can benefit from this type of scanner includes manufacturing, financial, banking, legal services, insurance, healthcare and others due to the ease of capture and distribution as well as the security that comes with being a network scanner.

Through the Administration tool, IT managers can manage and control up to 1,000 ScanFront devices and view status, update firmware, back-up and restore configurations. This scanner also supports LDAP over SSL (LDAPS) to keep communications secure between device and LDAP servers and supports log-in device access.

Pros
• Very fast scanning
• Good text recognition
• Supports many users
• Scan to six destinations
• Large tablet-like display

Cons
• Complicated setup
• Needs raised edges on output tray to keep sheets neatly stacked

The bottom line is that the Canon imageFORMULA ScanFront 400 scanner may be difficult to setup but it provides fast, quiet and secure scanning to six different destinations and offers a fast text recognition and conversion to editable text. The beautiful 10.1-inch touch-screen display provides a preview of scanned documents while acting as an intuitive interface for the operating system.

For more information, go here.

About 

Marcello is VP Content Strategy for WRLWND and IT in Canada Online media and host of WRLWND Radio. An avid technology enthusiast, he has worked on content leadership strategies for a number of industries including the public sector, life science, technology and defence. He is a former technology marcom and content specialist for Canadian Government Executive media and has previously worked as a technology columnist and web-designer, as well as a social media and technology consultant.

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