Epson GT-2500 document scanner

The Epson GT-2500, a 48-bit color flatbed scanner, is geared toward small businesses that want to scan documents easily. With its automatic document feeder (ADF) and high-resolution capabilities, it delivers, but its high-end features may be overkill for some business professionals who only plan on digitizing plain paper documents.

To use the GT-2500 , you put as many as 50 pages in the top-fed document feeder, launch the Epson Scan software on your Mac (there’s also a green Start button on the scanner that will launch Epson Scan for you), set your preferences in the application, and click the software’s Scan button. The scanner sucks in the pages one by one and spits them out of the bottom of the unit, below the input tray. When the scanning is finished, a dialog pops up on your Mac asking you to edit or save the pages.

Alternately, you can lift the lid and scan right on the glass surface. The scanner has an extra-long 8.5-by-14-inch scanning area to accommodate legal-size documents. This flat bed can be a bonus, and certainly makes the scanner more flexible if you want to scan magazine articles or books, or delicate documents that you don’t want to run through the automatic document feeder.

A higher-end version of this scanner, the GT-2500 Plus for $900, includes Adobe Acrobat 7 Standard (a $299 value) and a built-in network card that lets computers on your LAN use the scanner—useful in a small office. Because Mac OS X facilitates PDF creation through the Print dialog, Acrobat’s value isn’t as good for Mac users as it is for Windows users. Acrobat does allow for the initiation of PDF-based group review of documents and other nice PDF-centric features, but if a PDF-based workflow and networking capabilities are not important to you, the standard GT-2500 will suit your needs quite nicely.

The scanner is fairly large for a desktop device at 23 pounds and 18-by-15.5-by-8 inches—but that accommodates the legal sized flat bed. If space is at a premium, you might consider the Fujitsu ScanSnap (   ), which has a footprint smaller than an 8.5-by-11-inch piece of paper.

Your papers don’t have to be in perfect condition to scan properly using the GT-2500’s ADF. In fact, many of mine were just snippets or were somewhat dinged along the edges.

The GT-2500’s image-quality is impressive. I scanned documents both in black-and-white and grayscale, and both looked very clear on screen, especially when I used Epson Scan’s Text Enhancement feature. Prints of those scans looked very much like the originals. I also scanned a stack of 4-by-6-inch photos using the ADF, and the resulting TIFFs had very good detail. The ADF scans at up to 600 x 600 dpi; flatbed resolution is 1,200 x 1,200 dpi, while maximum interpolated resolution is 9,600 x 9,600 dpi.

The ADF removes some of the tedium of scanning, but the entire process is still very slow. Epson says that the ADF scans at 11 pages per minute in color and 27 pages per minute in black and white, and my testing with black-and-white scans using a 1.42GHz G4 Mac mini lived up to the speed claim. However, my real-world color scanning rate varied: Scanning took anywhere from three to five pages per minute depending on whether I used the text enhancement feature. Grayscale scanning rates were about nine pages per minute.

After you scan your documents, you must edit and save the pages—the save procedure alone takes about a minute. If you want to scan both sides of a page, scans will take twice as long, as the scanner feeds the paper back through the ADF. The slowness probably won’t bother you when you need to scan a few pages here and there, but if you’re scanning the contents of your file cabinets, expect to set aside a considerable amount of time to complete the job.

The GT-2500’s other major downside is the software. It lets you define your own presets, but you have to use its numbering scheme instead of being able to name the presets yourself. It’s simply unacceptable that one can’t define presets with descriptive names. And the default view of the software (Office Mode) assumes that users automatically know the correct dpi setting to select and what a descreening filter is or when to use one. These terms are defined in the Help files and User Guide, and there is a handy reference that advises users on which color and dpi settings to use for different types of scans. However, the software itself should provide better guidance.

Macworld’s buying advice

The Epson GT-2500 document scanner is great if you need a combination of high-quality photo scans along with scans of regular text documents, and the flat bed for specialized scanning, but it may be overkill for some normal business users. If all you need is a scanner with an automatic feed for text documents and the occasional low-resolution photo destined for e-mail, the Fujitsu ScanSnap, which offers the same resolution as the GT-2500’s ADF, is smaller, faster, less expensive, and scans text just as well.

[ Jennifer Berger is a former Macworld editor, now an editor and writer in San Francisco, who is busy scanning the contents of her file cabinets. ]

Epson GT-2500The Epson Scan software’s default Office Mode presumes that office users will know which dpi setting to use and whether they need to use a descreening filter.

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