The Brother ADS-1700W ($269.99) is a portable sheet-feed scanner designed for relatively high-volume document digitizing on the road. It’s the first portable scanner with a touch screen control panel we’ve seen. It also offers several excellent perks, including the ability to scan directly to USB drives and a high daily duty cycle. There’s no battery option, though, which limits its portability and keeps it in second place behind the Editors’ Choice Epson WorkForce ES-300W.
Portable scanners are usually small and light by nature, but the ADS-1700W, especially considering its lack of a built-in battery, is a bit big and heavy. It measures 3.3 by 11.8 by 4.1 inches (HWD) and weighs 3.7 pounds. That’s slightly taller, wider, deeper, and about a pound heavier than the Epson ES-300W, and taller and heavier still than Epson’s DS-320. Visioneer’s Patriot P15, another portable scanner sans battery, is the same width and depth and less than a half-a-pound lighter than the ADS-1700W.
The lack of a battery means that you can’t use the scanner without tethering it to a power source. In this case, that’s either an AC outlet or a micro USB 3.0 cable connected to a computer. There’s no USB cable in the box, though, and the scanner images pages significantly slower when charging via that option.
Like the other portables mentioned here, the ADS-1700W comes with a single-pass 20-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) for scanning one- and two-sided pages automatically. Brother rates it at 1,000 scans per day, the same as the Visioneer P15—a lot for a portable scanner. Most of the other portable scanners that come through our labs are rated at 500 scans per day.
As mentioned, the ADS-1700W is also unique in that it comes with a 2.8-inch color touch screen for configuring the machine and setting up and initiating scans…
From here, you can create workflow profiles to suite various users’ needs. Supported file formats include BMP, JPEG, high-compression PDF, image or searchable PDF, and PNG. Scan To destinations include Cloud Services, E-mail, E-mail Server, File, FTP, Image, Network Folder (Windows only), OCR, and USB.
Or, of course, you can use the included software (more on that in a minute).
As portable scanners go, the ADS-1700W has a decent set of connectivity options, including Wi-Fi, micro USB 3.0, and micro USB 2.0, and you can connect with either your PC or Mac, or Android or iOS mobile device, with Brother’s iPrint&Scan app. You can use that app, shown below, to scan to the device on which its installed, a network folder, various cloud sites, or share your scans just about anywhere…
As mentioned, you can also scan directly to a USB flash drive or any other USB storage device via a port on the back of the scanner. With this option, you don’t need to connect to a PC or smartphone. This is similar to the IRIScan Anywhere 5 WiFi’s internal SD card, except that IRIS takes this feature to the next logical step by including a battery. Without the need to plug in anywhere, even to a power source, you can go anywhere and scan anything with only the scanner, and then download your scans when you get back home or to the office.
You’ll have to download the ADS-1700W’s software from Brother’s site; there’s no disk in the box. Included in the bundle is PC/Mac and mobile versions of the iPrint&Scan app, which allows you to scan your documents, and then decide what to do with them, or to create workflow profiles that manage your scan jobs from start to one or more destinations. I’ve watched iPrint&Scan (and Brother’s scanner UI in general) mature over the years, and this latest iteration is both simple and versatile at the same time.
The rest of the software bundle includes Nuance PaperPort SE with OCR for Windows and Power PDF. The former is a popular document management program for scanning, processing, archiving, and retrieving your documents. OCR programs convert scanned text to editable text suitable for use in many different applications, including document management.
Keeping Up With the Epsons
Brother rates the ADS-2700W at 25 one-sided pages per minute (ppm) and 50 two-sided images per minute, (or ipm, where each page side is considered an image). Out of curiosity, I ran my tests at 300dpi over both micro USB 3.0 and Wi-Fi 802.11n from PCMag’s standard Intel Core i5-equipped testbed PC running Windows 10 Professional. Although I tried both PaperPort and iPrint&Scan, it became evident early on that the latter was faster, and I was not surprised that the wired and wireless scan times were too close to call. The results reported here, in keeping with our practice of testing over wired connections (preferably Ethernet) whenever possible, come from the micro USB 3.0 test runs.
Discounting what we have traditionally called the lag time, the ADS-1700W scanned our standard one-sided 25-page monochrome test document at an average rate of 28.2ppm and our 25-page two-sided document at 54.3ipm, or slightly faster than Brother’s ratings. (Lag time is the time between when the last page is scanned and the scanner’s software subsequently saves the entire scan job to the desired file format.) More important than how quickly the machine zips pages into your computing device’s memory, though, is the speed with which your documents are imaged, processed, and saved to a usable format.
For our testing purpose, those formats are either image or searchable PDF. Hence, the ADS-1700W scanned our 25-page one-sided test document, and then iPrint&Scan saved it to image PDF, at the rate of 27.4ppm, and our 25-page two-sided document was scanned and saved at 55.5ipm. Compared with its competition, these are terrific scores. The Epson ES-300W and DS-320, for example, scanned the same documents to image PDF a hair slower, and the Visioneer Patriot P15, which is rated at 10ppm and 20ipm slower than these other models, managed only 16.2ppm and 33.3ipm.
More impressive, though, is how fast all of these portable models scanned and saved our test documents to the more useful searchable PDF files. The ADS-1700W scanned and saved the two-sided version of our test document to searchable PDF in just 56 seconds. That tied the DS-320 and beat the ES-300W by 1 second and the Patriot P15 by 38 seconds. (I should point out that, since all these scanners’ ADFs hold only 20 pages, rather than the 25 pages of which our test documents are comprised, I had to reduce the size of the test documents by 5 pages and do some additional calculations to get accurate scores.)
Getting the Words Right
The Brother ADS-1700W scanned our Arial and Times New Roman test font pages without errors down to 6 points, which, nowadays, is about average across all scanners—not just the portable variety. (In fact, I’ve reviewed a few scanners of late that cost several times more than this one, yet some were not this accurate.) Of the scanners mentioned here, though, it scanned more accurately than the ES-300W, the ES-320, and the Visioneer P15.
Is a Battery Better?
Choosing between the Brother ADS-1700W and the Editors’ Choice Epson ES-300W, which are both excellent portable scanners, comes down to which travel-friendly feature you value more: the inclusion of a battery for true portability, or the the ability to scan to USB storage devices while on the road. The Epson model lists for $30 more, but that’s not much to pay for the option to scan from your mobile devices in situations that lack power sources. If you don’t need that ability, the Brother ADS-1700W is an excellent alternative to the Epson ES-300W as a highly capable portable document scanner.