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This document feeder is a handy product which currently costs about GBP160 to buy. It is cheaper in the US at $199.
WHAT IS IT?
The HP Scanjet Automatic Document Feeder attaches to HP Scanjets and is compatible with the Scanjet 5100, 5200, 6200 and 6300 series scanners. It then scans documents automatically.
WHAT DOES IT DO?
You put up to 25 pages of loose paper in it and click a button. The loose pages will then be scanned into your computer. Wow! Now if you only scan one document a day, you might not want to shell out £160 for one of these, but if you do a lot of it, or pay someone to stand over a scanner and do it for you, the economics of this might start to make sense.
Attaching it to your scanner is simple: you take the original lid of your scanner off by lifting it vertically and the docment feeder slides into the attachment holes in the lid. There is actually a socket in the back of the compatible scanners which is designed to take the document feeder and you plug the feeder into it (not surprisingly!)
The automatic document feeder is hinged so you can lift it up if you don't want to use it, but you just want to manually scan something in the usual way. This is a good feature because it means that once you've bought it it can just stay on all the time. You do still want to scan manually things like photographs or anything on a funny sized bit of paper.
You put the paper in it by moving the blue lever at the back of the scanner to position 1, then you put the papers you want to scan in the feeder face up with the first page on top. It copes best with A5 and A4 documents though it can cope with legal size, hich may well be useful for some people. Once the papers are in place, you move the lever back to 3. I don't know what you do with position 2 though!
You can use your existing scanner (provided you have a compatible one) and turn it into an automatic one, rather than have to replace a perfectly good machine in order to get better functionality.
You no longer have to stand over the scanner for half an hour at a time!
Using the TWAIN driver that HP supply with their scanners you can set this to scan all the pages at once and use it with Omnipage, Readiris or something similar to turn scanned pages into usable Word documents automatically. This is great if you've lost the original soft copies of things (in the old days we just ended up retyping stuff) or have other OCR needs.
In operation, this is a quite noisy.
The thing it doesn't do for you if scan direct from a book - it is designed for loose leaf pages. So if you want to scan in a few pages from a book you have to photocopy them first then put the copies in the feeder, which results in poorer quality and a waste of time, since you've had to stand over the photcopier anyway so you might just as well have scanned directly (though of course scanning is much slower than copying.)
It's quite expensive for something that only does 25 pages at once then you have to press the lever and insert some more. -You might find it is worth paying more to get a bigger beast, or just not paying at all!