It’s been some time since we’ve reviewed a Brother scanner, though the company tells us that, in addition to the mid- to high-volume ADS-4900W ($699.99) reviewed here today, we should be receiving four other review units soon. A direct competitor to two of our Editors’ Choice recipients, the Epson DS-790WN Wireless Network Color Document Scanner and the Raven Pro Document Scanner, the ADS-4900W is fast, accurate, and loaded with connectivity and other useful features, all for a competitive price.
Brother makes excellent business machines, and its scanners hold up well in a highly competitive, crowded market. And that’s more than enough to render the ADS-4900W our current favorite mid- to high-volume sheetfed document scanner for small to medium-size offices, workgroups, and enterprises—not because of any ground-breaking features or breakthroughs, but because this is a terrific, rock-solid machine.
Fast, Accurate, Feature-Rich, and Reliable
As I write this, the ADS-4900W resides atop Brother’s sheetfed document scanner pecking order, above the soon-to-be reviewed ADS-4700W and ADS-4300N and a bunch of smaller ADS-series models, including the ADS-3100 and ADS -3300W, which are also slated for review.
The ADS-4900W measures 9.2 by 11.6 by 7.0 inches (HWD) and weighs 7.8 pounds. As sheetfed document scanners of this size, volume, and capacity go, the ADS-4900W is about average in size and slightly lighter than most of its competitors—and there are many, far more than we can talk about here. In addition to the Epson DS-790WN and Raven Pro mentioned up top, other leading contenders include the HP ScanJet Enterprise Flow 5000 s5 and ScanJet Pro N4000 snw1; the Fujitsu fi-8170 Color Duplex Document Scanner, another PCMag favorite; and the Canon imageFormula DR-M260—again, to name only a few.
Of the Brother ADS-series machines mentioned above, only the ADS-4900W comes with a 100-page automatic document feeder (ADF) for sending one- or two-sided originals to the scanning mechanism, as does the Raven Pro, the fi- 8170, and the DS-790WN. The ScanJet 5000 and DR-M260, on the other hand, come with 80-page ADFs, and the ScanJet N4000’s feeder holds a more modest 50 originals.
When not in service, like most sheetfed document scanners, this one closes to about one-third its in-service size.
Sheetfed document scanners like this one typically extend to about three times their closed, out-of-service length. (Credit: Brother)
Among this Brother’s many attractions is versatility. Not only does it provide most available connectivity options, an excellent scanner interface, and other highly useful software utilities—as you’ll see in a moment—but you also get a 4.3-inch color customizable touch-screen control panel, shown below.
A spacious 4.3-inch customizable touch screen display and three buttons—Back, Home, and Cancel—make up the entire control panel. (Credit: Brother)
The control panel is customizable, in that users and departments can create and populate individual panels with their own sets of profiles and other shortcuts. These are indicated by the tabs along the bottom of the display labeled “Basic 1,” “Custom 1,” and so on. The tabs are, of course, like shortcuts, renameable. You can create up to 56 custom panels.
From here, you can set up and execute scan jobs as needed, or you can select workflow profiles containing all relevant information, including resolution, one- or two-sided (simplex or duplex) scans, output format (such as image or searchable PDF , Secure PDF, Signed PDF, PDF/A, High-Compression PDF, TIFF, multi-page TIFF, BMP, TXT, MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint), and scan destinations.
Destinations, of course, include local drives, cloud sites, social media sites, FTP sites, email, and so on. While you should be able to connect to most cloud sites without issue, out of the box the ADS-4900W supports Box, Dropbox, Evernote, Google Drive, OneDrive, OneNote, SharePoint Online, and Expensify.
The ADS-4900W’s maximum resolution is 1,200dpi. It supports document sizes ranging from 2 by 8.5 inches to a maximum of 8.5 inches wide by 16.4 feet long. Color depth is 24-bit external and 48-bit internal.
Inside the box are the ADS-4900W itself, various flyers and a setup guide, a USB cable, a power adapter, and a power cord. Software is downloadable from Brother’s support site.
The box contains the scanner itself, flyers and a setup guide, a USB cable, and a power adapter and power cord. (Credit: Brother)
As for volume, this scanner’s daily duty cycle rating is 9,000 scans. That’s greater than most of the machines mentioned here so far, except for the fi-8170 (rated for 10,000 scans daily). Most of the others, except for the Raven Pro (6,000 scans) and ScanJet N4000 (4,000 scans), are rated between 7,000 and 8,000 scans.
A Connection for Every Device
The ADS-4900W’s standard connectivity consists of Ethernet, Wi-Fi 802.11n wireless (2.4GHz and 5GHz), connecting to a single PC via USB 3.0, and Wi-Fi Direct (for connecting mobile devices to the scanner without either it or them being connected to the same router or network). In addition to Wi-Fi Direct, other mobile options include Apple AirPrint and Brother Mobile Connect.
Standard interfaces include Ethernet, Wi-Fi, Wi-Fi Direct, USB 3.0 and a USB port for scanning directly to memory devices. (Credit: Brother)
For increased security and convenience, you can scan directly to USB thumb drives and other USB storage devices via a port on the back of the scanner, between the Ethernet and USB 3.0 ports, as shown in the above image.
In addition to Mobile Connect, the software bundle includes Brother ScanEssentials for Windows, Brother iPrint&Scan Desktop (Windows and Mac), Kofax PaperPort 14SE, and Kofax Power PDF for Windows.
ScanEssentials is a basic scanner interface. (Credit: PCMag)
ScanEssentials, shown above, is what it sounds like: a simple scanner interface that allows you to create and modify basic workflows. iPrint&Scan is more of an all-in-one printer driver and interface than a standalone scanner utility, though it has some useful features.
Kofax PaperPort is the most complete solution here. Not only can you control your scanner with it, but it’s also a fairly robust document management application, complete with its own set of workflow profiles, automated naming conventions, optical character recognition (OCR), and more. And, of course, Power PDF is what it sounds like: a PDF creation and editing utility similar to Adobe Acrobat DC. With its connectivity and software options, the ADS-4900W is a terrific value.
Testing the ADS-4900W: Fast and Accurate
Brother rates the ADS-4900W at 60 one-sided (simplex) pages per minute (ppm) and 120 two-sided (duplex) images per minute, or ipm, where each page side counts as an image. Both the Canon DR-M260 and the Raven Pro come with the same ratings; the Fujitsu fi-8170 is, at 70ppm and 140ipm, the highest rated in this group; the HP ScanJet 5000, at 65ppm and 130ipm, comes in just behind that; the Epson DS-790WN is rated at 45ppm and 90ipm; and finally, at 40ppm and 80ipm, the HP ScanJet N4000 is the slowest of this group.
I tested the ADS-4900W over a USB connection to our testbed PC, which has an Intel Core i5 and runs Windows 10 and ScanEssentials. (Note that I also ran a few cursory test scans from a few of the other bundled programs and got similar results.) The first test entailed clocking the scanner as it scanned both our 25-sheet one-sided and 25-sheet two-sided text documents and converted and saved them as PDF files.
The Brother scanned, converted, and saved the one-sided document at the rate of 61.2ppm and the two-sided pages at 124.4ipm. Not only are these speeds a bit over Brother’s rating, but they’re also among the fastest of this test group, with only the Fujitsu and ScanJet 5000 running notably faster. The Raven Pro’s speeds are about the same, and the Canon is somewhat slower. Both the HP N4000 and Epson scored significantly slower.
Next, I clocked the ADS-4900W as it scanned our two-sided 25-page text document and converted and saved it as the most versatile and archive-friendly searchable PDF. This time, the Brother scanned, and the software saved the document in a swift 25 seconds. That’s 1 second behind the Raven Pro, tied with the fi-8170, and faster than the others—make that significantly faster than the DS-790WN and ScanJet N4000.
Scans With No Surprises
Compared to just a few years ago, document scanners have improved considerably in both dependability and OCR accuracy. Here, by dependability, I mean few to no misfeeds, grabbing more than one sheet at a time, mixing up originals during output, fraying or damaging originals, and so on. In other words, no physical disruptions from the hardware (which can be frustrating) during the actual scanning phase of the process—hardcopy pages passing from the ADF, between the two contact imaging sensors (CIS), and ejecting onto the output tray.
As is the norm nowadays, the ADS-4900W’s smooth, reliable scanning mechanism gave me no grievance, and the software’s overall accuracy—how well it converted our scanned text to editable text—was impeccable, scoring 5 points error-free on the Arial ( sans-serif) and 6 points error-free on the Times New Roman (serif) portions of the test. As I’ve pointed out in past reviews of scanners like these, while it’s possible to score somewhat better on our font tests (both the Raven Pro and Fujitsu fi-8170 got down to 5-point type mistake-free on both tests), chances are that you or your organization will not encounter documents with type anywhere near this small. The Canon DR-M260 tied the Brother on these tests, and all the others managed to meet the average standard of 6 points error-free on both tests.
The good news is that as long as your hardcopy pages are in reasonably good shape and legible, this (and most other) scanners of this class, and their software, will deliver clean, error-free text. If you’ve ever had to go back and correct pages full of OCR conversion errors, then you’ll agree that few things are more frustrating.
One Lean, Clean, Well-Built Machine
What’s not to like about the Brother ADS-4900W? It’s fast and accurate; connectivity beyond; you can scan directly to USB drives, without a computer; it offers a three-year warranty; and its $699 list price is a bargain.
As we said at the beginning, the competition at this level is intense, and many of the machines in the mid-to high-volume genre are serving of recognition. Among the many contenders, the Raven Pro stands toe-to-toe with this Brother. If you prefer operating the scanner from a huge touch screen and, in turn, editing your scans from the device’s control panel, the Raven’s 8-inch, tablet-like display is worth looking into.
Otherwise, there’s very little to dislike about the Brother ADS-4900W. It’s a terrific value, and our latest favorite mid-to high-volume sheetfed document scanner for busy small and midsize offices, workgroups, and most other organizations.
The Bottom Line
Brother’s speedy ADS-4900W is an accurate, efficient, and reasonably priced sheetfed document scanner well-suited for mid- to high-volume jobs in busy offices and workgroups.
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