Canon’s imageFormula R40 Office Document Scanner ($247) is an entry-level to midrange sheet-fed desktop document scanner designed for use in home-based or small offices and workgroups. Like our recent Editors’ Choice, Fujitsu’s more expensive Image Scanner fi-800R, this affordable desktop digitizer is relatively fast and accurate, and it comes with a well-rounded software bundle that covers most types of business-oriented scanning, including basic document management and business card archiving. Unlike several competitors, such as the Brother ADS-2700W Wireless High-Speed Desktop Document Scanner (another PCMag top pick), however, the Canon’s connectivity is limited to USB, which precludes network and mobile device support. Otherwise, it’s a capable desktop scanner for smaller enterprises.
Neat and Nimble
At 9.6 by 11.4 by 9.9 inches (with its trays closed) and weighing 6.2 pounds, the R40 is a few inches taller, longer, and heavier than the Brother ADS-2700W mentioned above, but the Fujitsu fi-800R, which is sort of a cross between a portable and a desktop model, is only about a third as high and half as long. Two other close competitors, Panasonic’s KV-N1028X and the Alaris E1035, are slightly bigger and heftier, but not enough to matter much. All these document scanners except the Fujitsu increase in length by a factor of two or three when their trays are extended and they’re in service, significantly increasing their desktop footprints.
As I said, the R40’s sole connectivity option is a USB 2.0 port on the back of the device. With it you can connect to a single PC, but you don’t get networking or mobile device support. Of the other models mentioned here so far, both the Fujitsu and Alaris are also limited to USB. The Panasonic and Brother, conversely, can connect via Ethernet, Wi-Fi, USB, and Wi-Fi Direct (a peer-to-peer protocol for connecting mobile devices to the scanner without either being on the same network). The ADS-2700W goes even further by connecting through Near Field Communication (NFC) and allowing you to scan to a USB thumb drive.
You can initiate scans from the R40’s control panel, shown below, or from a couple of the bundled apps, discussed momentarily. The panel consists of a monochrome display for selecting numbered workflow profiles, a selection button for scrolling through profile numbers, Start and Stop buttons, and a manual feed toggle for adjusting for thicker documents such as ID cards. You can create and edit profiles using the supplied software.
The R40 can scan documents as small as 2 by 2.1 inches and as large as 8.5 by 118 inches. Its automatic document feeder (ADF) holds up to 60 pages, and its maximum volume rating is 4,000 scans daily. By comparison, the Brother’s ADF holds 10 fewer pages with a daily duty cycle of 3,000 scans, while the Panasonic’s ADF holds 75 pages and its duty cycle is 5,000 scans daily. The Fujitsu fi-800R’s ADF is, at 20 sheets, much smaller, though its daily volume rating is 500 scans higher.
Software for Most Tasks
In addition to the standard TWAIN driver that connects you to most Windows and Mac programs that support scanning, the R40 ships with Canon’s CaptureOnTouch, Readiris, and Cardiris. CaptureOnTouch is a full-featured scanner interface with basic document management features. It provides a range of options that allow you to quickly and efficiently scan documents and distribute them to various nodes across your management system. It’s also the utility you use for creating and editing profiles for selection from the R40’s control panel.
Readiris is a PDF creation and editing program that lets you save scanned pages to image or PDF, as well as a few other editable file formats, and Cardiris is a state-of-the-art business card scanning and archiving app that helps you create a contact database or export records to Microsoft Outlook or another personal information manager.
Respectable Scan and Conversion Speeds
Canon rates the R40 at 40 one-sided pages per minute (ppm) and 80 two-sided images per minute (ipm, where each page side is an image). These numbers are relatively low among desktop document scanners. Brother’s ADS-2700DW is a bit slower at 35ppm and 70ipm, and very few others, such as Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX1500 (30ppm and 60ipm), are slower still, but I haven’t seen one in a couple of years.
I conducted my tests over USB 2.0 from our standard Intel Core i5 testbed running Windows 10 Pro and Canon’s CaptureOnTouch. The R40 scanned and converted our 25-page one-sided and two-sided (50 images) text documents to image PDF at the rates of 39.5ppm and 77.7ipm respectively—very close to its official ratings.
The slightly lower-rated Brother ADS-2700DW came in at about 5.2ppm and 17.7ipm slower, while the Panasonic KV-N1028X proved 6.3ppm and 10.1ipm faster. The Alaris E1035 trailed the Canon by 4.2ppm and 14.5ppm, while Fujitsu’s fi-800R nearly matched it at 38.7ppm and 75.7ipm.
The editable searchable PDF format is, of course, more suited to most document archiving applications than image PDF. When saving to this format, the R40 scanned and converted our two-sided 25-page document (50 scans total) in an impressive 41 seconds. That score beat all the other models mentioned here, though the Fujitsu was only a negligible 1 second slower, while the others were between 9 and 22 seconds behind, with the Alaris being the slowest.
At one time not many years ago, scanning and converting text was often a hit-or-miss proposition, often with too many conversion errors that made the technology only marginally viable. Nowadays, document scanners and their accompanying software have become remarkably accurate, and the imageFormula R40’s editable text conversion rate is right up there at the top.
The Canon scanned and converted our Arial test page down to 4 points (the smallest font size we test) without errors, and the Times New Roman sample came out mistake-free at 6 points. Barely a handful of the scanners we’ve tested have matched its 4-point showing with Arial, and these days 6 points is about average for Times New Roman.
The Fujitsu tied the R40’s results. The Brother flipped the numbers to 5 points Arial and 4 points Times New Roman, while the Panasonic scored 5 points Arial and 6 points Times New Roman. Even the Alaris’s 6 points Arial and 8 points Times New Roman are more than acceptable for most tasks.
I also scanned a few stacks of sample business cards into Cardiris. As has been my experience with most business card archiving programs, accuracy depended mostly on the design of the individual cards. Simple white cards with conventional sans-serif typefaces scanned and populated the Cardiris database accurately, but elaborate cards with color or gradient backgrounds, decorative type, and other fancy design features required some retyping.
Applying Cardiris’ background and other noise filters helped some, but sometimes simply typing in data from the most ornate cards was the fastest method. Nowadays, companies and individuals who want their business cards to be effective should be mindful of their customers with scanners and consider forgoing the flashier designs.
A Winner Among Many
Except for finding the right capacity, volume, and processing features, picking the right document scanner for your small business or workgroup nowadays isn’t a risky proposition—most of today’s desktop digitizers work just fine. Obviously, if you need network or mobile connectivity, the Canon imageFormula R40 isn’t for you; Brother’s ADS-2700DW and Panasonic’s KV-N1028X are better choices. If space-saving portability is what you’re looking for, check out Fujitsu’s fi-800R. Otherwise, the Canon R40 is a capable document scanner with just the right software bundle for a wide variety of needs.