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Brother ADS-1100W Compact Double-Sided Scanner Review

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Overwhelmed by paperwork dating back years, or even decades in some cases, I decided to try going paperless at home.

My regular Epson V600 flatbed scanner is good for photos, but it’s not especially fast — and it only scans one side at a time. So I went online in search of something which could help me to scan all my paperwork reasonably quickly. The Brother scanner reviewed here appeared to be sufficient for my needs.

It’s compact, at around 28.5 x 11 x 8 cm when folded up, and not too heavy at about 1.5 kg — so it’s much easier to handle than a flatbed scanner.

Setting Up the ADS-1100W

I set the scanner up using the supplied USB cable and external power brick. The top of the scanner folds out to hold the paper you’re scanning. Two thin strips of plastic rotate upwards to support the paper. There are two small guides which need to be slid left and right, to suit the width of the paper you’re scanning. There is a release button to open the scanner, when (not if!) paper gets jammed inside it.

Lifting the lid allows paper jams to be cleared easily.

Supplied Software

I ignored the supplied CD, and went straight to the Brother website, to make sure I got the latest software, including PaperPort 12 SE. Unfortunately, this is quite an old version, but it’s still sufficient for my needs.

I was rather surprised to find that some of the software is unsigned, with warnings appearing during installation about it being from an unknown publisher! Several years ago, that might not have mattered so much, and perhaps it’s partly due to the software not being very up-to-date. But it doesn’t look good for a big company to be expecting users to install such software in 2018.


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WiFi Setup

It didn’t take long to set the scanner up on my WiFi network. That allowed me to use a web browser to configure network scanning. This particular model does not support scanning to a shared folder — it will only scan to an FTP server when it comes to network scanning. So for testing purposes, I used FileZilla Server, and it worked well enough, once I’d adjusted my FireWall settings.

Web interface to configure network scanning.

There seem to be more configuration settings when the scanner is used via USB, so I only used WiFi briefly to compare the speed.

USB Flash Drive Support

A USB Flash Drive can be plugged in to the back of the scanner, but I did not use that facility.

Design Flaws

After I’d scanned a few pages, it quickly became clear that the paper guides and supports are badly designed. Looking at Amazon reviews, one person had used Blu Tack to solve the problem (although it wasn’t clear to me exactly what they’d done).

The paper often slides horizontally across the top of the short guides, and can sometimes skew all the way to the edge and jam up. I found that adding small blobs of Blu Tack to the back of the hinges on the support helped angle the paper such that it sat lower in the guides. I also placed large blobs of Blu Tack covered with masking tape higher up, to form a crude paper guide. Those two mods have helped to make scanning more reliable.

The ADS-1100W with power brick and Blu Tack to serve as additional paper guides.

There are some touch sensitive illuminated buttons on top of the scanner, but I tend to start the scanning process from the computer. There have been a few occasions when I’ve accidentally brushed my hand on the cancel button when loading paper — which can be annoying.

It’s all too easy to touch the cancel button when loading pages, especially smaller items such as receipts.

Scanning Speed

The scanner itself is fast at feeding the pages, but slow and clunky software lets it down. It takes quite some time to complete the processing after the scanner has stopped — and that limits overall throughput quite significantly.

I tested the scanner with five doubled-sided sheets of A4 (credit card statements), with a number of different configurations. Most settings were left at the defaults, and the middle compression value was used.

Using Brother Control Center Software

File Format
Size
Resolution
Feed Time
Total Time
Rotate
Deskew
PDF
7.4 MB
300 dpi
21 s
26 s
No
PDF
7.2 MB
300 dpi
21 s
63 s
Yes
PDF OCR
37 MB
300 dpi
21 s
124 s
Yes

Using PaperPort 12 SE Software

File Format
Size MB
DPI
Feed Time
Total Time
Rotate
Deskew
PDF OCR
8.6 MB
300 dpi
20 Feed
89 Total
Yes

Using FTP (FileZilla Server on PC)

File Format /
Size MB / DPI
Feed Time
Total Time
Rotate
Deskew
PDF Mono
1.6 MB
300 dpi
19 s
26 s
No
PDF
1.7 MB
150 dpi
19 s
38 s
No
PDF
4.7 MB
300 dpi
19 s
39 s
No
PDF
14.7 MB
600 dpi
60 s
114 s
No
JPEG
4.7 MB
300 dpi
19 s
38 s
No

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Analysis

Once OCR is enabled (searchable PDF), things slow down quite a lot. My test PC is quite old, but its 2.8 GHz i7 860, 8 GB RAM and 1 TB SSD are still more than good enough for most purposes.

A faster PC may help, but looking at the resource monitor, it doesn’t seem to make good use of multi-core CPUs. (At times, it made me wonder whether some of the software included delays, in an attempt to make ‘faster’ scanners or newer software appear to perform better!)

The PaperPort software is painfully slow, and even appears to delay the moving of PDF files in Windows Explorer — as though PaperPort is monitoring PDF files inside its folders, even if it isn’t open! Despite that, it offers useful facilities for merging PDF files.

Quality is decent, and more than good enough to keep copies of financial records etc. I scan in colour at 300 dpi, and use searchable PDF files (OCR). I always use the deskew and auto-rotate options.

I tend to place no more than around 5 — 10 pages on the scanner at once. When a jam occurs, it’s reasonably easy to work out which page hasn’t been scanned, and try again. There is a small slot on the back to scan things like business cards, but I tend to use the main feed for everything, for easier access.

Rear of the ADS-1100W, with card scanning slot, power and USB connectors.

Conclusion

The ADS-1100W is frustrating to use at times, with its badly designed paper feed system and slow software. Despite that, the double-sided scanning without the need to lift the lid allows me to create searchable PDF files from all my old paperwork much faster than using a flatbed scanner.

I’ve already scanned hundreds of sheets of paper, and it’s going to get a lot more use over the coming months.

Brother ADS-1100W at Amazon

(Purchasing via this link won’t cost you any more, but helps support this site. More details.)


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Creator of the Jigsaw Mix website. Presently programming and writing. Previously spent 25+ years developing electronics and software, particularly for embedded systems based on microcontrollers. Other interests include music and cars. Widowed aged 44 in 2013. More

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