The flagship in HP’s line of flatbed ScanJet Pro document scanners, the 4500 fn1 Network Scanner ($899) is similar in many ways to the ScanJet Pro 3500 f1 Flatbed Scanner. Unlike its less-expensive sibling, though, the 4500 is networkable via both Ethernet and Wi-Fi, scans faster, and has a higher daily duty cycle. It’s also quicker than the Editors’ Choice Canon imageFormula DR-2020U, as well as the comparably priced Epson WorkForce DS-6500—especially when saving scans to searchable PDF files. Fast, single-pass scanning and swift saving to a usable file format, as well as built-in networking, easily elevate the ScanJet Pro 4500 to our Editors’ Choice for a flatbed document scanner for low-to-medium-volume scanning in a small office or workgroup.
Measuring 5.7 by 20.5 by 15.2 inches (HWD) and weighing 13.2 pounds, the HP ScanJet Pro 4500 is, like the ScanJet Pro 3500 (which is slightly smaller and lighter), too big to fit on the average desktop. The 4500 is also somewhat longer, yet shorter and lighter, than both the Canon DR-2020U and the Epson DS-6500. All of the scanners mentioned here are capable of 600dpi when you scan from the ADF and 1,200dpi from the flatbed, and they all deploy single-pass scanning mechanisms with two sensors (one for each page side), for faster, more reliable two-sided scanning. The two ScanJets and the imageFormula have 50-page ADFs, and the WorkForce model’s ADF holds 100 pages. In addition, the ScanJet 4500’s daily duty cycle of 4,000 pages is significantly higher than other models discussed here.
Configuration and scanning from the machine itself is handled from the ScanJet 4500’s 2.8-inch color touch screen and accompanying buttons: Back, Home, and Help. The 4500 and the included HP Scan Software come with a handful of predefined workflow profiles—Scan to PDF, Scan to Folder, Scan to Email, and so on—containing resolution, destination, and other configuration options. You can modify the existing profiles or create new ones as needed. As mentioned, the 4500 is networkable via Wi-Fi or gigabit Ethernet, and you can scan to your mobile devices with Wi-Fi Direct or HP’s JetAdvantage Capture app for Android or iOS. You can also connect to it directly via USB 3.0 or USB 2.0 (a USB 3.0 cable comes in the box). The ScanJet 3500 and Epson DS-6500 are networkable only via an optional Wi-Fi adapter or Ethernet module, respectively.
Setup and Software
The ScanJet 4500 comes out of the box with a minimal amount of tape and other packing material. Depending on which connectivity option you choose—Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or USB—setup is slightly different. Since, for consistency’s sake, we test over USB, I used the included USB 3.0 cable. The included optical disk contains the drivers, HP utilities, Nuance PaperPort, and Kofax VRS Pro, but the optional optical character recognition (OCR) and business card archiving software programs are only available online. The HP utilities are HP Scan Software and HP Scan Tools Utility, and the OCR program is the full-featured Readiris. The business card software is Cardiris, also an industry standard in its category.
HP Scan Software is the primary scanning utility, but, as you’ll see in the next section, I got much better, or faster, results scanning from inside Readiris. HP Scan Software is a comprehensive interface that allows you to create and save profiles controlling all aspects of your scans, from file type (JPEG, TIFF, PNG, BMP, RTF, TXT, image and searchable PDF), to resolution, to destination (including Printer, Folder, FTP, SFTP, OCR, Mobile Device, Dropbox, OneDrive, and Everyday Scan, as well as multiple destinations at once).
HP Scan Tools Utility allows you to view scanner stats and manage the scanner in general. Nuance PaperPort is a popular document management program, and Kofax VRS Pro evaluates and enhances poor scans to improve (primarily OCR) accuracy. Compared with some of its competitors, the ScanJet 4500 has one of the more complete software bundles.
HP rates the ScanJet Pro 4500 at 30 pages per minute (ppm) for single-sided (simplex) scans and 60 images per minute (ipm, where each page side is considered an image) for two-sided (duplex) scans. (I tested using Readiris at its default 300dpi over USB 3.0 from our standard Core i5 PC running Windows 10 Professional.) Not including the lag time (the time it takes after the last page is scanned to subsequently process and save the scans to a useable file format, which, for our testing purposes, is either image or searchable PDF), I clocked the 4500 at 31.6ppm and 61.2ipm, or slightly faster than its ratings. When scanning and saving to image PDF, the speed dropped some, to 28.6ppm and 54.5ipm. Even so, it was still faster than the Canon 2020U, the less-expensive HP ScanJet Pro 3500, and the Epson DS-6500, when saving to image PDF. (Note that when I used HP Scan Software to perform the same test, it took more than twice as long.)
See How We Test Scanners
Where the 4500 really outshined the others, though, was in scanning and saving to the more useful searchable PDF, which really wasn’t much slower than when saving to image PDF. It scanned our two-sided 25-sheet (50 pages) document to searchable PDF in 58 seconds, or just 2 seconds slower than when saving the same document to image PDF. The DR-2020U took 1 minute and 23 seconds to scan and save the same document to searchable PDF; the DS-6500 took 2:36; and the ScanJet 3500 took a whopping 5:44. Note, however, that the ScanJet 4500 was tested over USB 3.0, while the others were tested via USB 2.0 (even though the ScanJet 3500 does support USB 3.0). It’s likely that using the faster interface on the 4500 gave it an advantage.
OCR Accuracy and Other Tests
In testing OCR performance, the 4500’s accuracy down to six points with no errors on our Arial font test page and eight points on the Times New Roman page was opposite to that of the 3500’s eight points for Arial and six points for Times New Roman. The Canon DR-2020U managed eight points without errors on both pages, and the Epson DS-6500 came in at five points on the Arial font page and eight points for Times New Roman. All four results are accurate, perhaps even slightly above, for this type of scanner.
I also spent some time scanning business cards into Cardiris, allowing the program to convert the scanned text to editable text and then populate the archiving database. As is usually the case with business card scanning software, the most important factor in determining accuracy was the design of the individual cards themselves. Cards consisting of common fonts on white or light-color backgrounds lent themselves to greater accuracy than those comprised of decorative typefaces and/or colorful or patterned backgrounds. When I turned on color dropout and some other enhancement filters, results were somewhat better, but the filters aren’t capable of performing magic. Often, if the data on the cards is easily and readily deciphered by the naked eye, the more likely scanning the data on them, without excessive retyping, will be successful.
The HP ScanJet Pro 4500 fn1 Network Scanner is one of very few networkable flatbed document scanners (with an ADF) that we know of. That—for the same or comparable price as its competitors—it comes ready, out of the box, to support both Wi-Fi and Ethernet, makes it an exceptional value. Its faster-than-average scanning speed (and subsequent saving to searchable PDF) and high accuracy helps, too, not to mention a suite of software that covers the gambit of document-scanning needs. Our evaluation and testing of the ScanJet 4500 left us with little to complain about, rendering it our new Editors’ Choice flatbed document scanner for low-to-medium volume network scanning in a micro or small office or workgroup.