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Brother ADS-2000 vs Epson GT-S50
on July 18, 2012
For some time now, I've been digitizing twenty-five years worth of office files. I first started using a Fujitsu ScanSnap S510. When I acquired an Epson GT-S50, it pretty much replaced the Fujitsu...I wrote a review comparing the two. Now I have the Brother, it seems natural to write another comparative review. They're sitting side-by-side on my desk and hooked up to the same computer. (Since someone asked: Windows 7, Intel i5-2400 processor, 16Gb memory, 128 Gb SSD primary disk and 4Tb of secondary disks. Both scanners are connected directly to separate USB ports without going through an external hub. I use PaperPort 14 to drive the scanners and organize the output files. This is my primary office computer, not a dedicated test system, so I have lots of miscellaneous crud loaded on it.)
Installation: Both units, as you would expect, are well packed by their manufacturers and arrived safely. UPS crunched the Brother's outer Amazon box, but the scanner's box was intact inside. Installation follows the normal process...hunt for and remove the packing tape, power it up, install the software and finally connect the scanner to the USB port. A 6' USB cable comes with the Brother. The instructions say not to go over 6', but it's working fine with a $5 10' cable...6' is too short to reach to my computer. Both units come with a neutered version of PaperPort 12. I recommend installing it and immediately upgrading to PP14. (The upgrade is almost always on sale from one store or another for roughly half list. Since I already had PP14 installed, I skipped the installation of PP12se.) Both scanners have TWAIN and WIA drivers, so they can be used by practically every scanner enabled software package.
Both scanners have wedged-shaped bodies. The Epson is about 1-1/2" taller and blockier; the Brother is more sloped and sleek looking. The Brother is also a bit deeper and the tray protrudes about an inch more...not enough to make a difference in any practical sense.
Performance: To test the two scanners, I set the scanner drivers to similar settings and ran different types of documents through them. To summarize the results, the Brother scanned documents significantly faster at 300 dpi. The scanners approached parity at 150dpi, while the difference in scanning speed was dramatic at 600dpi.
B&W document- fifty pages - 300dpi
....Epson GT-50 - 4:07.1 sec
....Brother ADS-2000 - 1:56.4 sec
Multi-page form - 8 pages double sided, flip vertical - 300dpi
....Epson - 45.8 seconds
....Brother 20.3 seconds
Multi-page form - 8 pages double sided, flip vertical - 150dpi
....Epson - 22.0
....Brother - 21.8
Multi-page form - 8 pages double sided, flip vertical - 600dpi
....Brother - 42.2
....Epson - 1:47.8 sec
Multi-page form - 8 pages double sided, flip vertical - 1200dpi
....Brother - 40.6 sec
....Epson - Not Available
(Note: the optical resolution of the Brother is 600dpi. 1200dpi is via software interpolation)
I ran two tests to check color scanning ability. One test consists of a light blue grid printed on ten different colored sheets of paper. Ideally, the surrounding color shouldn't affect the scanned image of the blue lines. In practice, both scanners showed some impact from the surrounding colors; however the Epson fared much worse, especially with the bright red and orange backgrounds...the blue lines turned to a muddy red and orange respectively. Scanned images from the Brother were a much closer match to the originals. Both scanners maintained a nice even spacing of the horizontal lines. Slight changes in paper feed rate (which you don't want) would have caused the line spacing to vary slightly.
For the other test, I scanned a printed color test card that's primarily used to test cameras and lenses. This test doesn't measure how fast the scanner can switch between colors, like the first test, but rather tests color fidelity. Compared to the Epson, the Brother produced somewhat more saturated colors and more closely matched the original. The difference, though, was slight and easily correctable in any image processing software. (I use Adobe Lightroom 4 and/or Photoshop, depending on what needs doing)
OCR: The Epson uses Abbyy FineReader 6.0 software for character recognition. I'm not sure what Brother uses. Both work decent if you feed them a block of text (typed document, newspaper article, etc.), but the Brother bombed rather spectacularly when I tried to OCR the 8 page form that I used to test scanning speed. With different type sizes, typefaces, boxes with labels inside of other boxes, numbers with commas, background screened colors and all kinds of other fun things, it was unable to reconstruct the form using anything other than the Scan to PDF setting...and even then it was pretty pathetic. The Epson, using the Abbyy software, did a much better job.
The Brother has the following output file formats: Scan to Word 2K (or W97) RTF, searchable PDF, Excel (2003 or 97) XLS, TXT, HTML 3.2 or 4.0, and WordPerfect 8, 9 or 10. Note that the "new" (Office 2010) Microsoft file formats (docx, xslsx, etc.) are unavailable. It works, but it's obviously dated software.
Both scanners can scan both sides of a page in one pass and can be set to skip the blank pages in the output file. Settings are also available to automatically rotate upside-down pages, crop the scan to fit the document, remove punch holes and other useful functions.
Both scanners can scan business cards and embossed credit cards. Either one would work in a medical office to scan ID cards.
Both scanners come with software to control what happens when you push the front buttons. I never use the buttons, preferring to drive the scanner from my computer...I'm usually scanning many documents at once and want to rename them as I go.
The Epson uses a separate power supply. The Brother uses a standard cord. I prefer the cord. It's one less thing kicking around under my desk.
Which would I recommend? It totally depends on your needs. A couple of years ago, when I compared the ScanSnap s510 to the Epson, the Epson came out on top. Now, after a month, with the Brother sitting next to my Epson GT-S50, I find myself almost always using the Brother. It's faster and I almost never need the OCR function. If OCR was a primary requirement, I'd probably still use the Brother along with a separately purchased copy of Abbyy FineReader 11. For scanning photographs, I recommend a flatbed unit that's designed primarily for that purpose. These will both work, but the automatic dust removal software included with photoscanners will save you many hours of touch-up work. If you just occasionally need to scan documents, both of these scanners are complete overkill and a good all-in-one should work fine...just make sure that it can do two-sided scanning.
The scanner hardware deserves five stars. I'm dunning it a point because of the old drivers and the poor OCR performance. When/If that gets updated, this is clearly a five (if not six) star device.