HP Scanjet 5590
The HP Scanjet 5590 is more expensive than most SOHO flatbed scanners, but its formidable automatic document feeder justifies the price. Adding an optional ADF to other SOHO scanners can cost $150 or more, if it's even an option. The Scanjet 5590's ADF holds up to 50 sheets, and performs duplex (two-sided) scanning. As expected, the Scanjet 5590's software bundle includes optical character recognition and document management applications, as well as tools for other common scanning tasks.
The Scanjet 5590's performance scores are near the top of the SOHO class, right behind the first-ranked Epson Perfection 2480 Photo. Tested using its USB 2.0 interface, the 5590 was faster than most other models in our lower-resolution (100- and 300-dpi) tests. For example, the 5590 scanned a 4-by-5-inch color photo at 100 dpi in just 12 seconds; the other scanners in the SOHO category took from about 15 to 30 seconds to finish the same test. And it took the 5590 about 21 seconds to scan a color magazine cover at 300 dpi--about 7 seconds faster than its closest competitor, the Epson 2480. In our higher-resolution (600- and 1200-dpi) tests, the 5590 was still reasonably fast, though the Epson 2480 consistently beat it by about 3 to 4 seconds in each test.
In informal tests using the 5590's ADF, the scanner did an overall fine job of digitizing a battery of test documents--both single- and double-sided--and converting them into various file formats (such as Microsoft Word, RTF, and Adobe PDF). You also can use the ADF in tandem with the 5590's scanner driver (HP Scanning), which has a built-in OCR feature for simple jobs; or you can use the ADF with the also-included ReadIris Pro 8, a full-featured OCR application better suited for complex documents (such as multicolumn text and graphics). In our tests of the ADF's duplex feature and OCR software, the 5590 took about 13 minutes to scan a two-sided 15-page document (at 300 dpi), with very accurate results.
Image quality was mixed. Although the 5590 performed very well in our monochrome tests, its color-test results were more average overall when compared with competing scanners. For example, the 5590 earned the top score among scanners on the SOHO list for its on-screen reproduction of a complex black-and-white test pattern (scanned at maximum resolution) composed of fine lines, small fonts, and intricate geometric patterns. The print of the 5590's enlargement of a small 2-by-2-inch color photo (scanned at its maximum resolution) also scored well, but the 5590's scores for reproducing color accuracy in a scan of a 4-by-5-inch color photo (at 100 dpi) were roughly average.
The 5590 has a bevy of quick-start buttons on its front panel, and it also comes with a transparency adapter for scanning up to four 35mm slides or four filmstrip frames at a time. Informal tests using the 5590's film scanning features produced images that generally looked good, with accurate color and reasonably good detail in shadows and highlights. However, though the scanning software includes an option for restoring faded color, it lacks an option for dust removal and grain reduction, which some scanner vendors (such as Canon and Epson) provide for various flatbed models.
The office-targeted HP 5590 is a good pick for OCR work, thanks to the proficient automatic document feeder that comes bundled.