A decision was made at my workplace to digitize all paperwork that was to be archived. In the computer age of today, the fastest way of doing so, is to get a good scanner and turn everything into a PDF document. So far so good. Since the amount of paperwork to be scanned is not overly big, a smaller scanner under $1000 was to be bought. The only requirements were an ADF, flatbed scanner and duplex scanning capability.
Recommend this product?
After being impressed with the HP Laserjet 4345 MFP and the HP 4315 and the overall satisfaction I had with all HP products I decided to give the HP Scanjet 8270 a try. It's basically a regular 8200 with an ADF lid instead of being a regular flatbed scanner. The technical specs listed by Hewlett Packard sounded good, so I got the scanner.
What's in the box
HP Scanjet 8270 Document Flatbed Scanner, 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF), built-in transparent media adapter for scanning 35-mm slides and negatives, Hi-Speed USB cable, power cord, ADF cleaning cloth, Vista errata, printed User's Guide, Setup Poster, warranty sheet, CD-ROM(s) with software for Windows (Windows 2000 support available as web download), including HP Photosmart Essential, ScanSoft PaperPort, Adobe Photoshop Elements, I.R.I.S. Readiris Pro OCR and ISIS/TWAIN drivers; CD-ROM(s) with software for Macintosh, including HP Photosmart Studio, I.R.I.S. Readiris Pro OCR, Adobe Photoshop Elements and NewSoft Presto! PageManager, I.R.I.S. registration flyer
The 8270 is a flatbed scanner with an ADF on the lid. The ADF has a 50 sheet capacity and can pull up to 25ppm (scan to file) and a little over 5 ppm when scanning duplex (two-sided). The maximum scan sizes for both the flatbed and the ADF are 8.5 x 14 inch
Maximum bit depth is 48 bit with a maximum resolution of 4800 x 4800 dpi. The scanner comes with a Hi-speed USB connection (USB 2.0, cable is included). There is an optional SCSI module available for the scanner.
Other technical specs are:
Minimum system requirements:
Microsoft Windows XP, XP x64, 2000: 500 MHz processor, 256 MB RAM, 450 MB available hard disk space, USB port, CD-ROM drive, 800 x 600 SVGA monitor, 16-bit color, Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer 6
Windows Vista, Vista x64: 800 MHz processor, 512 MB RAM, 450 MB available hard disk space, CD-ROM drive, 800 x 600 SVGA monitor, DirectX 9 capable graphics, Microsoft Windows Internet Explorer 7
Macintosh: Mac OS X v 10.2.8, 10.3, 10.4; 128 MB RAM (256 MB recommended); 250 MB available disk space
Width 22.6 in.
Depth 15.7 in.
Height 7.7 in.
Weight 19 lb.
Speed according to HP:
4 x 6-inch photo to Microsoft Word: less than 28 sec
OCR (letter): less than 36 sec
4 x 6-inch photo to e-mail: less than 31 sec
Installing the scanner
Installing the scanner software is necessary before plugging the scanner in. After doing so, the scanner buttons work in conjunction with the software installed. There is no way of controlling the scanner completely over a software interface (like the Canon toolbox on canon scanners for example). All scan tasks have to be initialized by pressing a button on the scanner.
using the scanner
After you installed the software, pressing one of the front buttons opens up a message box on the computer where you can set additional options if you want. To explain better, I will go through the buttons.
1. The destination button: Here you can choose which application your scan will go to when you press the scan buttons.
2. "scan document to" button: After pressing it, a window opens and lets you set scan settings and which applications are available when you use the destination button. You can have this window pop up every time you press the button or save the settings permanently and have the scanner not ask again.
3. "scan picture" button: default setting is scanning to the HP photosmart software. You can change the application though and like above, permanently save the settings.
4. "edit text" button: scans the document with the built-in OCR software and give the text to a word processor that you can define. Again, the setting can be saved so that the window for the scan settings doesn't show up.
5. "scan to file" button: Opens a window where you can set file type and destination to save to.
6. "scan to email" button: scans a document in grayscale (to keep file size down) to your email program. Settings can be changed if one wishes.
7. "copy" button: scans and sends output directly to printer
8. "+/-" button for number of copies
9. "color-B/W" button for the copy function
10. Settings button: Lets you change button configuration. If you have set defaults on any scan button and ticked the "do not open setup window", this is the way to change those settings again.
11. "cancel" button: guess!
I was used to having a Canon scanner and being able to use one on screen menu to control all the scan settings. So in the beginning, this way of scanning was a little confusing to me. But once you have configured the scanner to suit your needs, you go through the settings very fast. And since all the scan buttons can basically be programmed freely, scanning will be a breeze.
The scanner itself is basically a regular flatbed scanner (the 8200) with an ADF instead of a normal lid. The ADF-lid is being held by two hinges on the back, which are a little too plasticky and flimsy in my opinion. The ADF-lid is a bit heavy . I would have liked the hinges to have springs to aid in opening the lid a bit or at least hold it in place. Instead the 8270 only has plastic clamps to hold the lid in place when you open it entirely. I don't trust those clamps that much.
One of the reasons I bought this scanner was so I could scan lots of documents easily and fast. Especially an ADF with duplex capability was important. The scan speed HP promises is impressive (25ppm single sided). Sadly, the promises cannot keep up with reality. Firstly, the scanner needs to fire up the computer interface to start scanning. So the speed of that is actually dependent on your computer, not the scanner. If you have a slow computer/hard drive, you will find yourself waiting up to 20 seconds before the scanner even starts. In addition to that, the scanner needs warm up time when you turn it on. A warm start (i.e. the scanner has been in stand-by) takes about 10-20 seconds. A cold start (power plug was pulled) can take up to 3 minutes. Depending on your choice of scanning, the software needs to be fired up after the scan process, which again, is depended on your computer.
I have compiled some time tests. The time measured is from pressing the scan button until the scanning is complete. The test doesn't take into account the time it takes for the application to process the scan as that is very dependent on the speed of the machine connected to the printer. Still, I am assuming the software the scanner is scanning to (i.e. Adobe Acrobat or Paint Shop or whatever) is already started so we can measure the actual scanner speed and not the time your computer needs to fire up the application. Also, I don't count the time it takes to adjust settings in the settings window.
20 Page text document, b/w, 300 dpi, single sided, scanned to Adobe Acrobat (already started) via ADF:2 minutes, 20.1 seconds
- time to scan first page: 36.8 seconds
- time to scan second page: 6 seconds
20 Page text document, b/w, 300 dpi, double sided, scanned to Adobe Acrobat (already started) via ADF: 7 minutes, 39.2 seconds
- time to scan first page, both sides: 30.8 seconds
- time to scan second page, both sides: 25,7 seconds
this does not include the time it takes your computer to process the data in Acrobat after scanning. Depending on the speed of your machine, this can be anywhere from one to 5 minutes.
10 Page text document, b/w, 300 dpi, single sided, scanned to file through OCR via ADF: 1 minute, 28 seconds
- time to scan first page: 28.6 seconds
- time to scan second page: 6.4 seconds
10 Page text document, b/w, 300 dpi, double sided, scanned to file through OCR via ADF: 4 minutes, 32.6 seconds
- time to scan first page, both sides: 31.1 seconds
- time to scan second page, both sides: 25 seconds
After the scan is complete, your computer processes the OCR. The time for that depends on the computer. For mine, it took about two and a half minutes to process 10 pages.
And to make real life comparisons to the HP advertisements, here are the tests to the speed specs of HP:
First test: 20 Page text document, b/w, 200 dpi, single sided, scanned to file (PDF) via ADF: 1 min, 47 seconds
- time to scan first page: 26.2 seconds
- time to scan second page: 3.5 seconds
Second test: 20 Page text document, b/w, 200 dpi, single sided, scanned to file (PDF) via ADF: 1 min, 28.5 seconds
- time to scan first page: 18.6 seconds
- time to scan second page: 3.2 seconds
I have done the tests a couple of times and found inconsistencies in the timings. Sometimes the scanner would start scanning faster (resulting in a faster first page scan of up to 5 seconds faster) and sometimes scanning the 20 pages would take slightly over 2 minutes.
Also keep in mind that for the scanner to start, it has to fire up the scanning software on your computer, which takes up the most time and is heavily dependent on the speed of your machine. If you take your computer out of the equations, the first scan takes about 10 seconds.
After a scan completes, the software asks you if you want to scan more sheets into the document and it saves the files on the computer, which takes up additional time and is dependent on the speed of your computer.
So even if I only take the time the scanner needs to pull one sheet of paper through the ADF, I don't get 25 pages per minute (25 pages times roughly 3 seconds equals 75 seconds). The ADF wastes about 2 seconds for every scan waiting for the scanned page to be transmitted to the computer I guess as the actual scan is only about 1.5 seconds long.
Other tests I did:
4 x 6 - inch photo to Microsoft Word: 35.1 seconds (advertised: less than 28 seconds)
OCR (letter): 30.2 seconds (advertised: less than 36 seconds)
4 x 6 - inch photo to e-mail: 40.2 seconds (advertised: less than 31 seconds) - The actual scan only took 30.1 seconds, the rest was opening a new email with the picture as an attachment.
So we can basically conclude that the numbers that Hewlett Packard provides are very dependent on the computer connected to the scanner and highly theoretical and can probably never be achieved in a real life working environment.
Nevertheless, once the scanner is warmed up, it is still pretty fast compared to a regular flatbed scanner. And it surely is fast enough to scan stacks of documents if you are not a speed freak. Because realistically, more time is spent putting the documents in the feeder or back in binder or whatever than anything else. So when the scanner takes 20 seconds longer, it's not really that big of a deal.
Still, I would have liked HP to make a little more honest statements on the speed of the scanner. Most of the numbers they give are right when you really just count the scanning itself, but things like starting up the scanner software, the speed of the ADF and post-processing of scanned documents are not taken into account.
The scan quality can only be described as very good. The only complain I have is that that some of the scanned documents come out a little lighter than expected but not in a way that it would be a problem. The colors are still vivid and the pictures are sharp and crisp. I would give the quality of the scans a 8 on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best).
The OCR software that comes with the scanner is good but not perfect. As a test, I took a text and printed it out with Windows' notepad. So its a very standard font, easy to scan. Still the OCR software makes a couple of mistakes when transforming the scan into a document, about three to ten per page, depending on the amount of text.
Bad things about the HP Scanjet 8270
For a change, I want to start with the bad stuff. The first thing that really bugs me is the fact that the scanner is slower than advertised. Not way slower but recognizably. Especially if you have a slower computer attached to the scanner, you might be a bit disappointed.
I also don't like the way the ADF-lid is made and works. It's heavy and the hinges could be better.
And third, I am not happy about the scanner firing up the computer software every time it scans. Why can't I have one scan software (again, like Canon has the Canon toolbox) that stays in memory until I switch it off?
Even though HP's Marketing Dept. "embellished" a bit on the scanning speed, the 8270 is still a fast and capable document scanner for smaller or medium businesses. The fact that it's flatbed plus an ADF is a bonus. In my specific case, just having an ADF and no regular scanner-glass (like a lot of the "real" and cheaper document scanner/archiving systems are) would be impossible to use since I do scan things that can't go in the ADF (cutouts, etc).
The ability to have an ADF with duplex capability makes your scanning like a LOT easier. Again, there are not many scanners out there that have a duplex ADF, a flatbed and are under $900. While not the fastest, you can archive documents at a faster rate than with a regular flatbed scanner.
Even though the scanner has it's flaws, overall I am happy with it. Being used to a Canon scanner meant getting used to the HP interface, but now I can scan and archive tons of documents fast and easy. And even though the scanner is slower than advertised by HP (although some shops selling it are listing their own, more realistic speeds), it's still fast enough to do the job. I know most sheetfed scanners are faster, but I needed a flatbed too. And for that, the speed is okay.
I have also read complains about the scanner being too noisy. Well, the ADF does make some sound but is not any louder than any other ADF on a copy machine or fax. Again, we are talking a less than $800 device with tons of functions. If I had paid over a $1000 I might be complaining too, but for this money?
I also found the scanner very reliable. The ADF has not failed me once (single or duplex) and the driver hasn't crashed on me yet (something that happened with Canon scanners to me).
I also like the little gimmicks the 8270 has. For example, if you want to scan more sheets than the ADF can hold, you won't need to make two PDF files and then merge them later. Once the 8270 is finished scanning, it always asks you if you want to scan more with the current settings and it puts it in the same file.
The HP Scanjet 8270 is not a perfect scanner. But in my opinion it is a good one. Room for improvement is there, but it sure made my work a lot easier