- ✓Compact size
- ✓Intuitive touch-screen
- ✓Excellent ease of use
- ✓Excellent network support
- ✕Sheetfed rather than flatbed
- ✕Requires some configuration for best operation
- ✕No long sheet support
- ✕Requires a little setup for best operation
Canon’s ScanFront 220P is a novel high-speed document scanner that can save you both time and money. Speeding through documents at up to 26 pages per minute (ppm), it can create and deliver multi-page documents automatically to a variety of destinations.
Designed for multiple users in a workgroup environment, the ScanFront 220P makes it simple to share documents around or even outside the office. For example, it can scan single or multiple sheets, single or double-sized at up to 26ppm and deliver a PDF via email, onto a network share or directly onto a USB stick — all with a single button press.
It's a very different device to most scanners you may have seen: unzipping the custom-designed bag reveals a device of surprisingly diminutive proportions. The ScanFront 220P has no flatbed platen; it’s an entirely sheet-fed affair that reveals its full footprint only when the output tray is hinged open at the front — much like a compact inkjet printer.
This means it can sit happily on any desk, and because all of the operating software is integrated, it carries out all functions without the need for an attached PC: all you need to do is provide an Ethernet connection.
Behind the output tray, which doubles as a protective cover, we find a large 8.5in. touch-screen, a power switch and a fingerprint reader. To the side of the unit is a small lever that allows you to select either single-sheet or multi-sheet operation.
The scanner's user interface is actually based on Windows CE 5.0 and operating it is much like using an oversized and heavily-customised handheld PC. By default, four large buttons appear in the middle of the screen, and selecting one of these allows you to scan directly to email, FTP, a shared network folder or to a locally connected USB drive.
Configurable address books mean you don't need to key in email or FTP addresses each time; you can just select them from a list and get on with scanning.
Straight out of the box, the configuration has a few too many options exposed to the user who just wants to scan a document quickly. There are also lots of confirmation dialogue boxes to step through, which seem rather unnecessary. There are many scanning options available: paper size, colour depth, resolution, single- or double-sided scanning, blank page skipping and many others are available from the main scan menu.
Fortunately, all of these settings can be preset by an administrator and saved as jobs, so the system's usability can be tailored to particular usage scenarios. Saved jobs can be given their own button on the front page of the control panel on a global or per-user basis.
This enables true one-touch operation, where a user can simply load up the scanner, press their job button and walk away, knowing that their multi-page document will be delivered to the correct recipients automatically and with the correct scanning parameters.
The settings available are sophisticated enough to allow the creation of exactly the right kind of document, without any further intervention from the user. For example, a stack of pages of mixed content can be turned into a PDF and delivered to a list of email addresses in a single hit — blank pages will be skipped, pages will be automatically rotated so the text is the right way up and OCR will be automatically applied.
During scanning, double-feeds are automatically detected by an ultrasonic detector, so the user can be alerted to the problem immediately.
If you don’t like the touch-screen, you can connect a USB or PS/2 keyboard and/or mouse to speed up operations that require keyed input. However, if the scanner has been configured correctly, you can avoid keyboard input altogether for most tasks, and you won't need to type or remember passwords thanks to the built-in fingerprint scanner.
After selecting your user name, you just swipe your finger over the reader and you're signed in without having to use the on-screen keyboard to type in a password. A minor gripe is that you have to select 'fingerprint authentication' via the screen before swiping — a seemingly unnecessary step.
If the ScanFront 220P is a little too pricey for you, there's also the ScanFront 220 which provides the same functionality minus the fingerprint reader and the ultrasonic double-feed detection.
Just about everything about the ScanFront 220p is impressive. It's also a product that you really need to try out to appreciate fully, so contact Canon for a demo if you're considering it.