GCN Lab Review: Scan Station 500 adds jazzy features to network scanning

Kodak Scan Station 500Pros: Feature-packed network scanner that’s easy to use.
Cons: You have to pay extra for add-ons such as flatbeds.
Performance: A
Features: A
Ease of Use: A+
Value: B+
Price: $2,495

“Is that all there is?” I kept humming that old Peggy Lee song while I was testing the Kodak Scan Station 500. Where’s the clunky, complicated software? Where’s the extra step of downloading images to your computer hard drive? Where’s the spaghetti fest of cables? Is that all there is?

Yes, as a matter of fact, that’s all there is: a scanner and a network connection. But in this case, that’s enough. The Kodak Scan Station 500 is an easy, breezy but powerful network scanner. You plug it in and hook it up to your network, and you’re ready for some serious scanning. It practically gave me fever, as Ms. Lee would say.

You plug the Scan Station 500 in, hook it up to your network and wait for the on button to glow blue. It has an 8-inch LCD touch screen, so you communicate with the scanner by touching icons on its interactive screen. It so didn’t feel like work. The scanner even plays a few bars of a merry tune when you turn it on and a slightly mournful tune when you turn it off.

The whole setup process, from opening the box to turning on the scanner, took about two minutes, plus about 34 seconds for the scanner to warm up after we turned it on.

The screen shows a row of easy-to-comprehend icons. You touch the icon, and it gives you a dialog box for different scanning attributes you want. You pick if you want scanning quality for a color photograph, black and white documents, graphics plus text, two-sided or one-sided, TIFF or JPEG. You can pick a scanning resolution from 75 dpi to 1200 dpi. A green arrow button means go, a red X means stop. I really like the Scan Station’s lack of ambiguity.

I counted seven USB ports where you can insert a flash drive. You can save the scanned images directly to your flash drive, or you can set it up so that you can e-mail images to anybody in your e-mail address book. This required some tooling around with the configuration organizer software that came with it. You can also save your scanned files directly to a network folder.

The Scan Station 500 is about the size of a toaster oven. You need to extend an output tray, so that increases the device’s footprint a little, but it still fits nicely on a regular desktop.

The Scan Station 500 does a speedy job of scanning, a purported rate of 200 dpi color duplex scanning at 30 pages per minute. I scanned a family photo from 1960, a 3-inch square that had been a color slide, which I converted to a print a few years ago. The scanning process took 8 seconds at 400 dpi resolution, and it captured every detail and dimple with crystalline accuracy. The scanner automatically saved the JPEG file to a flash drive. The touch screen also shows you a preview image of the scanned document.

We then scanned a 5-inch by 8-inch page of handwritten notes torn from a spiral-bound notebook. The Scan Station 500 handled the jagged edge with ease. The process took seven seconds from start to finish, saved as a 96 dpi JPEG file. Again, the image quality was very sharp. You can also save files as TIFF, JPEG, PDF, text searchable PDF, encrypted PDF, among others.

The scanner has a couple of extra features that aren’t really necessary in a scanner, but were nice to have, falling under the category of value added.

The Scan Station 500 lets you add a voice annotation to a scanned file. It prompts you during the scanning process. You just tell it to record via touch screen and start talking into a built-in microphone, then hit stop. It automatically saves your message as a Windows Media audio file. Theoretically you could create a voice-annotated slide show as easily as scanning images.

You can also increase security by setting it up so that you need a password to access it. You do this via the configuration software. You can also save your settings and preferences to a flash drive, and then use this via USB port for your scanning sessions.

The Scan Station 500 also offers a multifeed ultrasonic detection feature, which detects if a stapler or other foreign object is about to interfere with the scanning process. We fed it a document with a staple at the far end, and sure enough, the scanner wouldn’t scan it. It stopped and a message on the screen said, “Processing has been canceled.” Again, this was the sort of feature that puts the Scan Station 500 above the league of ordinary scanners.

My one complaint is that the Scan Station didn’t come with an option for flatbed scanning, so you couldn’t really scan a page from a book or magazine directly. You can buy a flatbed attachment for a few hundred dollars more.

This would be a helpful addition to a work group that has a lot of scanning to do. A robust, intuitive scanner that welcomes all users, the Scan Station 500 offers speedy, secure scanning performance in an easy-to-use package and adds a few grace notes along the way.

Eastman Kodak, 585-477-5061, www.kodak.com

About the Author

Trudy Walsh is a senior writer for GCN.

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