Epson DS-1630 Flatbed Color Document Scanner

The Epson DS-1630 Flatbed Color Document Scanner ($299.99) is a low-volume document scanner designed for small and home-based offices. It combines the versatility of a flatbed and a sheet-feed scanner with an automatic document feeder (ADF), and supports automatic duplex scanning. But unlike many competing models, including the same-priced HP ScanJet Pro 2500 f1 Flatbed Scanner and the more expensive Editors' Choice Canon imageFormula DR-2020U, the DS-1630 has only one sensor, making it slow at scanning two-sided pages. Even so, it's buoyed by its generous software bundle and competitively accurate optical character recognition (OCR) capabilities.
Design and Features

At 4.8 by 12.5 by 11.7 inches (HWD) and weighing only 9 pounds, the DS-1630is compact and should fit comfortably on most desktops. On top of the scanner lid is a 50-sheet ADF for scanning multipage documents, and the lid's hinges extend to allow for scanning book and magazine pages on the flatbed. As mentioned, though, the flatbed contains the only contact image sensor (CIS); because there's not one in the ADF or the scanner lid, two-sided scanning is relatively slow (see the "Performance" section for more). Epson rates the DS-1630 at 1,500 scans per day, which is the same as the ScanJet Pro 2500, 500 more than the Canon DR-2020U, and 1,500 fewer than the HP ScanJet Pro 3500 f1 Flatbed Scanner (the ScanJet Pro 2500's $150-more-expensive sibling).

Compared with the other machines discussed here so far, the DS-1630 has a sparse, minimalist control panel consisting of just three buttons (Power, Cancel, and Start) and two status LEDs (Power and Error). All settings, such as scan resolution, file type, and destination (email, a file, or the cloud, for example) are handled through Epson's Document Capture Pro utility, discussed below. You can add network scanning with the optional Epson Network Interface Unit ($349.99), which in this case costs more than the scanner itself, and it supports only Ethernet, not Wi-Fi.

Setup and Software

Setup is mostly standard fare. The DS-1630's packing material was minimal and there was no assembly. There was no disc in the box (Epson reps told me this is normal), though, so I downloaded the drivers and utilities from the company's support site. Navigating the site and finding the right bundle was easy, and downloading and extracting it took less than a minute. As with most USB scanners, you don't connect it to your PC until the installation program asks you to. The DS-1630 supports USB 3.0 and comes with the proper cable. But as slow as this scanner is, USB 3.0 is probably overkill. That extra expense could be better put toward a second CIS to provide single-pass scanning, which would speed up duplex scanning more than a faster USB interface.

The downloadable software bundle provides everything you need for scanning and archiving scanned data—a good value for a $300 scanner. Epson Scan (a scanning interface utility) and Epson Document Capture Pro (a document management program) come with most Epson scanners and multifunction printers. Document Capture Pro is the primary scanning program, and what I used for testing. It allows you to create multiple profiles containing everything (such as resolution, destination, file format, and more). There's only one predefined profile (Save to PDF), but creating and saving more is straightforward and simple. Document Capture Pro's document management features, which consist primarily of allowing you to save your scans to a file, email, or the cloud, are also very easy to figure out. Rounding out the bundle are Abbyy FineReader, a state-of-the-art OCR program for making scanned text editable, and NewSoft Presto! BizCard, which allows you to scan and archive business cards as contact management data.