Brother ImageCenter ADS-2000 Desktop Document Scanner Review

Compact desktop document scanners are an essential part of a paperless office, and nearly every major hardware manufacturer has at least one. The Brother ADS-2000 is the latest entrant into a crowded field led by the ScanSnap S1500 that includes the popular (but not very good) NeatDesk and the competent workhorse, the Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S50.

The Brother ADS-2000 has good looks, speed, and value — and one cool feature you won’t find on any other desktop document scanner.

Price and features

Brother is always competitive on price, and the ADS-2000 is a pretty good buy at $373 on Amazon, as of this writing. The Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S50 is a little cheaper, at $335, and the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 is a little more expensive, at $414 (but remember, the ScanSnap comes with Acrobat X Standard).

The ADS-2000 scans at 24ppm/48 ipm, which is a faster than the ScanSnap (20ppm/40ipm) and just a smidge slower than the Epson (25ppm/50ipm). In practice, it won’t make much difference.

I was a bit surprised to find that the ADS-2000 does not support TWAIN. It’s hard to understand why not, since it is only the ScanSnap’s inclusion of a full version of Adobe Acrobat that justifies not having TWAIN support. The ADS-2000 comes with PaperPort SE (though you don’t need to use it), which is barely a step above crapware, and it definitely doesn’t make up for the lack of TWAIN.

Update: It does support TWAIN, according to a representative from Brother. I didn’t find anything about TWAIN support in the materials, though, and it didn’t show up as an option in Photoshop.

What it does have is a USB port, and it is the only desktop scanner I have seen or tried that does (though several portable scanners have one). That means you don’t have to have the ADS-2000 plugged into a computer in order to scan documents with it. You could take it to a document review, plug it into a wall, plug in your USB drive, and scan reams of documents at a quick 24 pages per minute. That is fast enough to make it realistic to scan documents at a remote document review instead of taking boxes of documents back to your office. And you can leave your laptop at home, which makes this desktop scanner look pretty portable.

Hardware and design

brother ads 2000 closed Brother ImageCenter ADS 2000 Desktop Document Scanner Reviewbrother ads 2000 open Brother ImageCenter ADS 2000 Desktop Document Scanner Review

On your desk, the ADS-2000 is good-looking enough. The lid folds out into a very big and stable document feeder, without the usual pull-out extensions. The “chin” pulls out into an equally-sturdy catch tray. It’s a small thing, but these big, sturdy trays feel much more solid than the trays on the ScanSnap. They are bulkier, to be sure, but there’s a good reason for that extra bulk.

Overall, I like the design fine. It’s industrial without being unattractive. When closed up, it looks nice sitting on your desk. Opened up for scanning, it’s all business.

One small thing I really like is the lack of a power brick. It must be built into the scanner, because all you plug into the scanner is a standard power cable like the one that plugs into your monitor or PC. It’s a lot less messy than the typical cord-to-brick-to-cord arrangement.

I don’t love the buttons, which are an example of what makes the ScanSnap so much easier to use than other scanners. After you finally get all the bundled software installed and you are ready to scan, here’s what you are confronted with:

brother ads 2000 buttons Brother ImageCenter ADS 2000 Desktop Document Scanner Review

Which of those buttons would you guess is the Scan button? It turns out it’s the one with the computer icon (because that’s where it goes, I guess). You can also plug in a USB drive, and then you can use the button with the USB drive–looking icon to scan straight to your USB drive.

The circle with a triangle in it doesn’t do anything, as far as I can tell. Once you’ve figured out what the buttons do, it’s no big deal, but Brother isn’t doing the user any favors with those buttons and labels. Here’s a time when a word — SCAN — is better than any icon (apparently that’s what <|> is supposed to indicate).

Software

The Brother ADS-2000 comes with a lot of bloated software that I consider crapware, like Nuance PaperPort SE and an update utility that sits in your system tray, taking up system resources 100% of the time. Fortunately, you can install the driver alone, which is all you really need to scan documents to your computer.

If you just use the buttons to scan, like I generally do, scans are sent to an unintuitively-named /ControCenter4 folder in /My Pictures. The scans themselves come out fine (here’s an example (pdf)), and you can change your default destination folder to something more obvious, like your desktop or a scanning inbox.

I went ahead and installed everything for testing, and I regretted it when it came time to remove the software and pack up the scanner to send back. The software may have a one-click install, but uninstalling everything takes multiple steps and some hunting through your Add/Remove Programs app.

For some stupid reason, the setup process installs PaperPort Image Printer and sets it as your default printer. PaperPort Image Printer is basically a slow PDF printer-slash-file manager, which is definitely worse than whatever method you are using to create PDFs now. But setting it as your default printer is horrible manners. That means the next time you want to print something from Word, it will automatically go to PaperPort Image Printer instead of wherever you actually wanted it to go. It’s stuff like this that makes non-tech-savvy people think their computers are out to get them, and tech-savvy people swear at their screens.

So the software is a big dud. Like most scanner manufacturers, Brother just threw some crappy third-party software together and sent it out with the scanner. Only Fujitsu really seems to understand that it’s the software, not the scanner, that makes the difference to the end user.

Performance

Scanning with the Brother ADS-2000 is pretty simple. Press one of the buttons (once you’ve figured out the right one to press), and it will automatically scan your documents (automatically scanning both sides, if you have two-sided pages) and deposit them to a /ControCenter4 folder in /My Pictures (which you really should change). Treat this folder — or whatever destination you select, as your scanning inbox. Take files from there and sort them into the appropriate client files. You can even locate it somewhere on a network, if you want to have just one scanner for an office.

Some greater flexibility would be nice, though. You can sort-of scan to other locations, but it requires using the clumsy PaperPort SE software in order to do it. I’m used to the ability to have an options dialog pop up after scanning that lets me direct scanned documents to a bunch of different places, like a folder of my choosing, Google Docs, Evernote, Clio, and more. Going through a clunky piece of software to do this is a real turn-off.

The speed is definitely good. Pages zip through the standard-size 50-sheet document feeder quickly, making short work of stacks of paper.

Who should buy this?

There’s just one job the Brother does better than any other, and it has to do with that USB port. Small, portable scanners aren’t fast enough to scan more than a couple dozen documents in one sitting. This is especially true for portable scanners that require you to hand-feed pages. By contrast, the Brother ADS-2000 will plow through stacks of paper at a respectable 24 ppm — without being attached to a computer.

But if it is just going to sit on your desk, I still think the ScanSnap S1500 is the best deal around, since it comes with Acrobat. Its scanning software is also extremely flexible, offering one-touch access to save files on your computer, OCR, and even Evernote, Dropbox, and Clio.

Summary

Brother ImageCenter ADS-2000

Reviewed by Sam Glover on .

Summary: The Brother ADS-2000 had good looks, speed, and value — and a USB port for remote scanning, which you won’t find on any other desktop document scanner.

Breakdown:

  • Price and features: 5
  • Hardware and design: 4
  • Included software: 2
  • Performance: 4

Overall score: 4 (out of 5)

Legal Technology

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  • Drew

    Nice review, Sam. Questions (not scanner-specific):

    1) Do you have a default resolution you scan to? 300 dpi? 400 dpi? 600 dpi?

    2) Do you have your scanner/software automatically OCR text by default?

    3) Do you find that grayscale works better than black & white for OCR?

    4) Do you have your scanner/software (e.g., Acrobat Pro or Standard) automatically open a metadata screen (so that you can enter searchable text like client, data, document description, or other key terms that will be searchable when you want to find the file later)?

    5) Do you use Acrobat as your default scanning software? If not, what do you use?

    Thanks, Drew.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover
      1. Whatever the court requires. I think both state and federal courts in Minnesota want 300 dpi B&W.
      2. No. I often have my ScanSnap OCR just the first page, which usually has the information I would want to search for. But in general, I don’t. OCR takes too long. My filing system is good enough that I rarely need to search for files. But I’d love to get a good OCR utility that would index files at night or something. That would be awesome. However, I do OCR things like transcripts, where searching the document is really useful while I’m looking at it.
      3. I use black and white. I haven’t compared its effectiveness to grayscale.
      4. No.
      5. No. I use ScanSnap Manager, which comes with the ScanSnap. Mine is set to ask me where to save every file, which makes my workflow go quickly. Scanners that go automatically to a folder take an extra step to file documents. Scanners that require me to use third-party software to scan are just as slow as doing OCR on the fly. We hates it.
  • Drew

    Oh, and one additional point for those debating between a Fujitsu Scansnap S1500 or another model (e.g., the more expensive fi-6130z, which has many rave reviews on Amazon, http://www.amazon.com/Fujitsu-fi-6130Z-Sheet-Fed-Document-PA03630-B055/product-reviews/B006MI6M7E/ref=dp_top_cm_cr_acr_txt?ie=UTF8&showViewpoints=1):

    while inclusion of the Standard (not Pro) version of Acrobat is a great value with the S1500, to me–as a litigator–it was not good enough. The one deal-breaker difference between Acrobat Pro and Standard for me is the ability to redact pdf’s securely in the Pro version. Court rules now require that social security numbers be redacted. Document productions frequently require reliable redaction of attorney-client and work-product privileged text in an otherwise responsive document. In my cases with protective orders, I sometimes have to redact material in a publicly-filed brief that refers to or discusses an exhibit filed under seal. In all of these instances (and potentially others), the need to reliably redact text from within Acrobat is critical. And much ink has been spilled (a few years back, before Adobe added this feature) on success with which some had in “un-redacting” text that had been “redacted” by rogue means. So, if you’re a litigator, do not put too much weight on the inclusion of Acrobat Standard with the S1500

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      Redaction is getting a lot more important, so this is a very valid point.

  • Drew

    Sam: You wrote: ” But I’d love to get a good OCR utility that would index files at night or something.”

    See this blog, and in particular the last two comments, about doing this with Acrobat Pro (comments cover a range of editions; Acrobat X Pro uses a “wizard”):
    http://blogs.adobe.com/acrolaw/2005/10/batch_ocr_using_1/

    Drew.

    • http://lawyerist.com/author/samglover/ Sam Glover

      Yeah, it doesn’t work quite how I want. It tries to turn every file in a directory into a PDF with OCR. I just want something to find the PDF files and OCR them. I don’t think that’s how Acrobat works.

  • Reza

    Hello Sam,

    First off, I would like to thank you for taking the time to review pretty much every document scanner on the market! You really are a Godsend!

    Now, I am on the verge of purchasing a document scanner and am unsure as to which would produce the best-quality monochrome and colour scans for archival purposes (i.e. whereby the originals are shredded after being digitized, so colour accuracy and scan quality are more important than scan speed). It is important to note that I already have the best OCR software on the market (including Adobe Acrobat Pro, ABBYY FineReader Pro, Kofax VRS, and Kofax Capture) to use with either of these TWAIN-compatible document scanners, which is why the highly praised Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 is simply is not an option for me at this time.

    Therefore, between the Canon ImageFormula DR-C125, Brother ImageCenter ADS-2000, and Epson WorkForce Pro GT-S50 which you have reviewed, how would you rank their picture quality (in order from best to worst)?

    Again, I want to point out that the software bundled with each scanner (i.e. OCR, business card management, document management, etc.) is not important to me since I already have what I need, and I am quite tech savvy so unintuitive button labels and arduous driver installation procedures do not bother me either. However, once everything is installed, configured, and ready to use, I DO want the model which has the fastest, most easy-to-use, and most stable scanning utility and TWAIN drivers for both Windows and Mac OS.

    Therefore, how would you rate the intuitiveness, stability, and performance of the scanning utilities and TWAIN drivers that each of these document scanners came with (in order for best to worst)?

    I believe that A LOT of other potential buyers of these units are also seeking the same answers, so you would be guiding them as well in making the right decision. Finally, even though you have included a sample scanned document in your reviews of the Brother and Canon models, both of the files look like they were from different sources (i.e. one is a page long and the other is two pages long), so I cannot judge whether the slight blurriness I see on the Brother document is from the source, or if the added sharpness and contrast in the Canon document are indeed a result of the scanner’s superior image capture capability.

    I look forward to your prompt response (especially since I need to get one of these models ASAP at my office), thank you in advance for your kind assistance and cooperation, and wish you the very best in the New Year!

    Thank you,

    Reza

  • Zsolt67

    Hi Sam

    I found this blog againg and your fantastic reviews. I am still looking a document scanner and I have a better deal for Brother ADS-2100 in local store than Scansnap. So if we compare small receipt, diferent size documnet scan capability in one batch to Scansnap then which one is better? Also I red couple of review saying Brother make jams much more than scansnap. Is that rtue? Also the file numbering method same as Scansnap?

    • http://samglover.net/ Sam Glover

      The ScanSnap is better, full stop.