The Kodak i2900 rotary scanner offers a rated speed of 60 pages per minute (ppm) and 120 images per minute (ipm) with one image on each side of the page. It boasts a letter-size flatbed to supplement the automatic document feeder (ADF), and a book scan feature, with the flatbed platen right at the edge of the scan bed. The result is an impressively capable scanner suitable for a large workgroup or office with relatively heavy duty scan needs.
At a quick glance, the i2900 looks more like a mono laser printer than a scanner. Black, with grey and silver highlights, it has the right proportions for a laser, at 525 x 565 x 380mm (WxDxH), weighing a substantial 19kg. The resemblance is also enhanced by the output bin moulded into the top and the 250-sheet input tray that pivots down in front to add another roughly 150mm to the depth.
Even the front panel LCD and control buttons add to the laser printer look, at least until you turn the scanner on and read the LCD, which happens to be one of the scanner's nicer touches.
The LCD is backlit so it's easy to read. It also has room for three rows of 18 characters, which lets it show descriptive profile names when you scroll through the choices with the front panel buttons.
Descriptive names are a big improvement on the more typical arbitrary numbers from 1 to 9. They make it far easier to take advantage of one-button scanning, because it's easier to find the right profile before you press the Scan button. The only quibble I have with the feature is that Kodak's software limits you to the usual maximum of 9 profiles. That's a reasonable limit when you identify profiles by number. With descriptive text, however, you should have the option to define more.
Another departure from the laser printer look is the flatbed hidden underneath the output tray. Lifting the lid reveals a letter-size platen with the edge of the glass right at the front edge of the platform. The flatbed not only lets you scan originals that you don't want to risk damaging with the ADF, it lets you position open books with the spine at the edge of the platen, the facing page hanging over the side, and the page you want to scan flat against the glass, so you can get a good quality scan without risking damage to the book.
Not so incidentally, if you need a larger than letter-size flatbed, Kodak says it will soon offer an optional A3-size flatbed accessory (price to be confirmed). Although the accessory flatbed will connect directly to your computer by USB cable, it won't operate unless you also have the i2900 or another supported scanner also installed on that computer.
Setting up the i2900 is absolutely standard fare for a document scanner. Simply install the software from the supplied disc and then connect the scanner by USB cable. As is typical for scanners in this price range, Kodak doesn't supply any application software, like a separate document management or optical character recognition program, on the grounds that most offices will likely already have the software they need. However, the scanner comes with Twain, ISIS, and WIA drivers, and at least one of them will work with virtually any Windows program that includes a scan command.
Kodak also supplies two scan utilities. The one I used for all of my tests installs along with the drivers, and the other is on a separate disc. Choosing between the two depends on which one fits your particular scan needs, with the disc sleeve offering some information that can help you choose between them.
As I’ve already mentioned, Kodak rates the i2900 at 60 ppm and 120 ipm in both black and white, and colour modes at both 200 and 300 pixels per inch (ppi). And although it wasn't quite that fast in my tests, it was fast enough for its speed to count as a strong point.
For my tests, I used the default settings for documents of 200 ppi in black and white mode. Using our standard 25-sheet test document, the i2900 came in at 42.9 ppm for simplex scanning to a PDF image file, and just a touch slower, at 41.7 ppm, or 83.3 ipm, for duplex scans. That makes it a bit faster in both cases than the Xerox DocuMate 5445, at 38.5 ppm and 75 ipm, but a bit slower than the Xerox DocuMate 5460 which we recently reviewed – it hit 46.9 ppm and 92.3 ipm.
Keep in mind that as with the Xerox scanners the total time for the scan includes a few seconds of overhead, both between giving the scan command and the scan actually starting, and between the scan finishing and the file being written to disk. Subtract that extra time, and the scan speed in ppm is much closer to the rated speed. More significantly, if you scan documents with more pages, the overhead works out at less time per page, so the overall speed in ppm will be faster.
Very much on the plus side, the Kodak scanner adds less time for optical character recognition (OCR) than the Xerox scanners. Scanning our standard test document to a searchable PDF file, which is generally the more useful format for document management applications, the i2900 took just 1 minute and 9 seconds, making it a touch faster than either Xerox scanner.
The i2900 also handled our OCR tests reasonably well, reading both our Times New Roman and Arial test pages at font sizes as small as 10 points without a mistake.
The only real complaint I have about the i2900 is the fact that too many options in the drivers aren't self-explanatory. I had the same beef with the Kodak i2600 when I used that in the past. With that scanner, the option for skipping blank pages, which lets you scan both one and two-sided documents without having to change settings and without winding up with blank pages when you scan a one-sided original, was labelled Blank Image. Not very helpful…
At least with the software that comes with the i2900, it’s no longer called that, but instead it’s now Blank Image Detection, which is a little better, I suppose. However, it’s still not as clear as simply labelling this Skip Blank Pages. The good news is that once you get familiar with the driver choices, the options let you control just about anything you need to.
As should be obvious, the Kodak i2900 is a highly capable beast. It delivers fast scan speeds, good OCR accuracy, and the potential for heavy duty scanning, with a 250-sheet ADF tray and a maximum 10,000 page-per-day duty cycle. Its natural home is in a large workgroup or office, but no matter what size office you're in, if you need relatively heavy duty ADF-based document scanning and book scanning, the Kodak i2900 can do it all, and do all of it well.
Manufacturer and Model
Automatic Document Feeder
USB or FireWire Interface
Maximum Optical Resolution