Epson was one of the first companies to use USB for scanning purposes, and it’s one of the features of its multifunction office printers that never fails to impress.
But scanning documents for copying is not the same problem as document imaging. For that specific task, Epson has an extensive range of dedicated scanning hardware marketed under the WorkForce label.
Today we take a look at the WorkForce DS-790WN, a deceptively small document scanner with advanced features designed for the image processing workflow.
It’s an expensive piece of hardware, but does the fine print of Epson’s details in this design justify the price?
Price and availability
The UK price of the DS-790WN is £629.99 and in the US it is $749 direct from Epson. Oddly enough, it costs more from online retailers, so buying direct might be your best bet.
Design and build
We thought the Canon ImageFORMULA R40 was a small desktop scanner until the Epson WorkForce DS-790WN came out of the box.
Dimensions only 296 x 169 x 167 mm with trays closed and 296 x 212 x 217 mm open. Weighing in at 3.7kg, this is a compact design that can be easily transported around the office when needed.
To keep weight down and production costs down, the exterior of the DS-790WN is constructed of impact-resistant plastic surrounding a stiffer metal frame.
It comes in two parts that need to be assembled after unpacking, which only takes a few seconds after removing all the adhesive tape securing all the moving elements to prevent them from shifting in transit.
Included in the package is a laptop-style power brick with cable, a USB cable, Ethernet LAN cable and some printed basic instructions along with a software CD. Why Epson will still deliver files on optical discs in 2022 is a mystery. Perhaps a 50 cent USB key is more convenient, or a QR code to download the necessary files.
It must be said that the DS-790WN can be used completely without a computer or software installations, but some functionality is only available when the scanner is controlled by a remote network connection.
When you switch on the machine, a large, bright and colorful 10.9 cm touchscreen is activated from which you can make initial scans, change settings and access defined presets.
As with all these devices, documents up to 100 sheets are fed into the upper hopper and ejected into a lower tray after scanning. Guides automatically centralize paper and the DS-790WN can handle Letter, Legal, A4 and all smaller sizes.
The smallest documents are just 50.8mm square and the largest is 215.9mm wide and a whopping 6,096mm long.
Source documents can be single-sided or double-sided, although the scanner requires this to be set by the operator and not automatically detected. Paper from 27 to 413 gsm can go through it and you can also send plastic cards.
Obviously the 100-sheet input capacity will depend on the thickness of the paper, but you should be able to get that many 80gsm pages ready to scan.
The stated duty cycle is an impressive 7,000 pages per day, and for those considering that amount of scanning, a replacement roll unit is available. Based on the 45 pages per minute, for both black and white and color scanning at 300 dpi, 7,000 pages represents 155 minutes of scanning in total. But those timings don’t take into account organizing, loading the paper and unloading the scanned work, or delays due to jams or scans having problems.
The scan speed of 45 pages per minute or 90 images is not the fastest available as it is slower than the similarly priced latest Canon DR-M260, Fujitsu FI-7160 and Raven Pro Max designs. But it is clearly faster than cheaper scanners of all these brands.
The only stupid flaw we noticed in the design of the DS-790WN is that the USB Type-A port you could use to scan directly to a storage device is on the back, next to the LAN port and USB Type-B port, where it is not easily accessible. It had to be on the front of the machine, and for whatever reason, the Epson engineers didn’t take that into account.
Document feeder capacity: 100 sheets
Daily scan capability: 7,000 pages
Dimensions: 296 x 169 x 167mm
Networking: Ethernet LAN and WiFi
Maximum Scan DPI: 600
Pages per minute: 45 B&W, 45 Color (300 dpi single sided)
Images per minute: 90 black and white, 90 color (300 dpi duplex)
Duplex scanning: Yes
Scan to web: Yes
Scan to network: Yes
Scan to USB: Yes
Software: Epson Scan2 (TWAIN), SANE (Linux), WIA (Windows), ICA (Mac), ISIS (Windows)
The workflow of document imaging is about turning paper documents into a digital resource that others can view or reproduce without worrying about the original being damaged or lost.
It’s also about directing those documents to the right place for them. The DS-790WN has a variety of document paths designed to interface with specific workflows commonly used by businesses for scanned documents.
At its simplest level, the DS-790WN could easily be taken to a remote location, perhaps a company that needs to capture a document archive before throwing it away. Once there, images can be scanned directly to a USB storage device without the need for a computer.
But this scanner is built for more elaborate workflows where scanning is sent to an FTP server, emailed, sent to the cloud or a nearby PC. Critically, it can do more than one of these things, so sending to a local server and cloud storage can become a predefined mode
Epson has gone even further and has also implemented a security solution that allows the connection of an NFC card reader that identifies the person scanning and encrypts the data as it travels across the network using an authentication server. This provides a measure of assurance that scanned images have not been intercepted or altered from the scanner to the repository, something that those requiring confidentiality will appreciate.
A classic example of this usage model is that if an HR employee scans payroll information, the scan person indicates that the scans can only go to a network location that is not generally accessible to those on the network.
Depending on how the owner wants to use the DS-790WN, it can be managed from a PC or Mac using Twain and ISIS drivers, and scanning can be initiated from all applications that support these standards. It also works with Linux using SANE standards for those using that platform.
For businesses with a more advanced image processing workflow, Epson has developed Document Capture Pro, an impressive tool that increases the degree of control over how images are indexed. It is possible to have naming conventions based on barcodes, date and time and many other parameters.
It also provides job separation, where blank pages can be used for processing when the system decides a set of pages is a document and a new document is started.
That one feature can be crucial. Scanning blocks of 100 pages and then manually going through them to package them as documents is both time consuming and tedious.
Another huge time-saving feature is the excellent OCR software. In our tests this worked flawlessly down to small point sizes, and the text documents created provide a powerful means of locating all scanned pages with specific references.
It may be a little slower than some competitor scanners, but considering all the other tasks that need to be done during the scanning process,
There is only one major problem with the Epson DS-790WN and many of its competitors; the price.
It undercuts many competing products by about $100, but that doesn’t make the Epson DS-790WN a bargain.
If you consider that you have two Canon R40 . can get (opens in new tab)scanners for the same money and double throughput with sufficient staff, the Epson seems pricey.
That said, the R40 isn’t networked, and the extra speed of the Epson means it can scan nearly as much in a typical work day.
What makes the difference, and isn’t practical for us to test, is exactly how long the DS-790WN would continue to scan if it reached its ‘reliable duty cycle’ of 7,000 pages per day.
It seems well made, and Epson offers replacement roll-mount kits and optional warranty extensions, so any confidence in its survivability isn’t unfounded.
In our experience, it can come down to how many stapled pages are accidentally forwarded and how careful the operators are when clearing jams without damaging the internal paths.
With this kind of investment, a little consideration can go a long way in making this hardware work hard for a long time.
To be clear, if price wasn’t an issue, this is easily one of the best desktop scanning solutions we’ve seen, with great flexibility and all the features that any document imaging workflow so desperately needs.
If you want raw scan speeds, other brands are faster, but in terms of the overall hardware and software package, the Epson DS-790WN can take a beating.