I understand the convenience of the “all-in-one” printer/scanner. But many of these represent compromises in quality/features, compared to standalone components produced by the same vendor. Don’t assume that all scanners that have similar specs (usually expressed as dpi of the image) produce images of the same quality – that’s like assuming that all digital cameras can be evaluated just by the number of megapixels in images. Just as some cameras produce much better images than others, some scanners produce better images than others.
One of the things to watch out for in an “all-in-one” unit is whether it becomes a doorstop when one of the ink cartridges goes empty. Yes, no printing until the empty cartridge is replaced; I understand tha. But no scanning either? Murphy’s Law states that the ink cartridge that runs dry will always be the one you can’t immediately replace, and that this will happen just when you have an urgent need to scan something!
An ADF (automatic document feeder) is a great convenience. But many of the paper documents I scan are printed on both sides. If you don’t have automatic duplex scanning you will come to hate such documents, as scanning them will be time-consuming.
Often, a scanner that has a great ADF either cannot handle bound copy, or is awkward to use for bound copy such as books and magazines. I love my ScanSnap for its speed, ADF with automatic duplex scanning and the image quality of scans. But it can’t handle a book unless the pages were to be unbound. I’ve got a flatbed scanner that I use for bound copy, and the flatbed scanner is more flexible for handling that kind of work than are most all-in-one printer/scanners. Note: scanning a large number of book pages on a flatbed scanner is drudgery; I’m moving to using a good digital camera for book pages that I want to capture and OCR.
For many years I had only an All-in-One on my desk, enjoying the convenience, economy, and de-clutterization it represented. After years of HP’s, I’m now quite happy with my Canon MX850. But scanning was always the thing it (and all the other All-in-Ones I’d tried) did least great. It ain’t bad, but it ain’t great.
So I now have a ScanSnap sitting next to it, and oh boy do I love it. It takes up a very small footprint, but what little space it takes up, it more than makes up for with its speed, ease of use, speed, reliability, speed, and did I mention speed? It whizzes through documents faster than any other scanner I’ve seen, saving both sides of a document in one pass )that alone is worth the price of admission), and deciding all its own whether a document needs color vs. black-and-white. So instead of having to make one pass in the All-in-One for documents that were one-sided, another pass for 2-sided, another pass for color, another pass for odd sizes, etc., I just stack everything in one group, hit the button and in very short order, it has scanned the lot, making intelligent decisions about how to scan each It’s a hell of a lot faster than any All-in-One I know of, and is a delight to use. Highest recommendation.
thanks for the input, I’m aware of the limitations of such devices, but the truth is that I’m pretty much paperless now, and I just need something to scan/print for time to time so I can’t justify to spend the kind of money the ScanSnap costs.
My main candidate now is the Canon MX340, but for the life of me I cannot find out if it scans wirelessly on Mac.
I think very few small-office/home-office all-in-ones do scan wirelessly. If they do, they’re very slow - at least that’s my experience. Perhaps it’s something to do with the maximum bit-rate that the wireless set-up in a bog-standard all-in-one can handle. YMMV, but personally I wouldn’t bother searching for one.
Add that within a de-cluttering or paper-free project, scanning is one of the most tedious tasks, I’d beg, borrow or steal a ScanSnap. Yes, they’re not cheap. But forget an iPad, a digital pen or voice-recognition software (i.e. other digitising devices) - next to a computer, a ScanSnap is the most productivity-propelling gizmo I know.