The $599 (as of 2/6/07) Epson GT-2500, a flatbed scanner with a 50-page automatic document feeder (ADF), is a heavyweight contender in more ways than one. It weighs a hefty 22 pounds, and at 18.4 by 15.5 by 7.9 inches (width by depth by height), it's the largest document scanner we tested for our recent chart. It reached impressive speeds when scanning single-sided documents, and offers a high maximum optical resolution of 1200 dpi; all of the other document scanners we tested in this group were 600-dpi models. But the GT-2500 failed to make our chart because its software bundle was sparse compared with the packages of other models costing the same or less.
In our speed tests, the GT-2500's color scans were close to the average, but its monochrome scans were a different story. The GT-2500 was the top performer in two of our single-sided monochrome tests: It took a brisk 8.5 seconds to scan a two-page document and just 38 seconds to scan a 15-page document (both at 300 dpi). However, the GT-2500 was much slower at scanning our double-sided 15-sheet document, which it took 125 seconds to complete--the slowest result among all of the scanners tested. Unlike other duplex models that simultaneously scan both sides of a double-sided page during the same pass through their ADFs, the GT-2500 automatically scans each double-sided page twice (one pass for each side), which accounts for the extra time necessary to complete duplex scanning. Despite this shortcoming, however, the GT-2500 still managed to end up in third place for its overall speed.
The GT-2500 earned a Very Good mark for its color image quality, capturing fine details in both shadows and highlights. It generally reproduced accurate color, although whites and yellows looked just a tad duller than what higher-rated models produced. In our monochrome tests the GT-2500 merited a rating of Good; although its text was clear and readable, some of the subtle details in line art and other graphics weren't quite as well delineated as in the original document.
Unlike compact sheet-fed scanners that are designed more for individual users, the GT-2500 is intended to serve as a workstation for small businesses and workgroups that require versatility. Because it's a flatbed model that can scan items on its glass platen (just like a copy machine), the GT-2500 can accommodate books, magazines, and other bound documents, and it can handle photographs and other fragile originals that you wouldn't want to risk damaging with a document feeder. Due to its high resolution, the GT-2500 is also better equipped than lower-resolution scanners at making enlargements from small originals without losing image quality. Of course, if you need to scan only single sheets at resolutions of 300 to 600 dpi, the GT-2500's 1200-dpi capability is overkill.
The GT-2500 is ready to go right out of the box, with no assembly required. A power switch and a customizable scan button are both conveniently located on the front of the unit. Unfortunately, the GT-2500 doesn't include much in the way of a software bundle. It comes with Epson Scan, a proficient TWAIN-compliant scanner driver that's easy to use and includes different user modes for novice and advanced users, and the Captiva ISIS Driver for offices that use ISIS-compatible scanning software. But no additional programs--such as applications for document management and optical character recognition (OCR)--are included in the box.
Although the GT-2500 completed all of our formal performance tests using just the scanner driver software, we weren't able to complete additional hands-on routines, such as searchable-PDF creation and OCR tests, which we attemped with all of the other models. Note that Epson also sells another version of this scanner, the $899 GT-2500 Plus, which comes with additional software (PaperPort for document management and Adobe Acrobat for PDF file creation and editing) and a built-in network card.
The Epson GT-2500 is a dual-purpose model capable of scanning both paper documents and photos, but you'll need additional software to complete document management and OCR tasks.