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Epson WorkForce ES-400 II Duplex Document Scanner - Review 2021

Epson’s entry-level WorkForce ES-400 II Duplex Desktop Document Scanner ($329.99) is a significant upgrade to the ES-400 reviewed here back in March 2017, with Epson’s most recent scanner software bundle, improved paper handling, and more accurate optical character recognition (OCR). Due primarily to a huge selection of competitors, the ES-400 II falls just short of our Editors’ Choice nod for entry-level sheetfed scanners; the $399.99 Brother ADS-2700W, which has Wi-Fi and a large color touch screen, keeps the crown. But if you don’t need wireless networking or your budget is limited, the ES-400 II is an affordable, capable, easy-to-use sheetfed scanner that’s well suited to personal or small-office use.

Small and Reliable

In addition to debuting its RapidReceipt scanner brand at the beginning of this year, Epson also released several updates to its WorkForce ES and DS sheetfed document scanners, of which this is one. At 6.9 by 11.6 by 6.6 inches (HWD) with its trays closed and weighing 8.1 pounds, the matte-black ES-400 II is identical in footprint and girth to its predecessor. It’s also within an inch or two in all directions and a pound or so of several other entry-level models, including Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX1400, Canon’s imageFormula R40 and imageFormula DR-C230, and our Editors’ Choice, the Brother ADS-2700DW.

Epson ES-400 II with extended tray

With its trays open and ready for work, the ES-400 II nearly doubles in height and triples in length.

A 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF) feeds originals to the two scanning sensors (one for each side of two-sided pages). The Canon scanners mentioned above have 60-sheet ADFs; the other comparable scanners hold 50 sheets.

Epson ES-400 II automatic document feeder

A swift and reliable 50-sheet ADF makes short work of multipage scan jobs.

As sheetfed desktop models go, the ES-400 II is a simple device. Its control panel consists solely of a handful of buttons and a couple of status lights. Configuration options and workflow profiles are set up in the bundled software. Though most machines in this price range don’t come with elaborate onboard controls, some do. For example, the Brother ADS-2700DW has a 2.8-inch color touch screen.

Epson ES-400 II control panel

The simple control panel consists of five buttons and a few status LEDs.

There’s one connectivity option for the ES-400 II: USB, which can only be used to connect to a single computer, though you can scan to most cloud folders via the scanning software. It is USB 3 instead of the much slower USB 2, but given this scanner’s moderate speed rating of 35 pages per minute (ppm) or 70 images per minute (ipm), I’m not sure it really needs all that bandwidth.

As for the other models mentioned here, all but the Brother also have only USB connections. If you want to connect a scanner to multiple devices, you’ll need one with Ethernet or Wi-Fi, and to scan to smartphones and tablets, wireless connectivity is essential. However, those features will increase the price.

The daily duty cycle for the ES-400 II—the number of pages you can scan each day without undue wear on the machine—is 4,000 scans. That’s a pretty high number for this class of scanner; only the iX1400 is rated for more. I don’t doubt that the ES-400 II can manage 4,000 scans per day, as long as you have the time and patience to load the 50-sheet ADF 80 times. That said, if you need to scan that much every day or even a few days a week, I suggest that you invest in a machine with a more voluminous ADF and faster speed ratings, such as Epson’s WorkForce ES-865. Its ADF holds 100 pages and its speed ratings are 65ppm and 130ipm, or almost twice those of the ES-400 II. 

Top-Notch Scanning Software

The software bundled with the ES-400 II includes the industry-standard TWAIN drivers that expand compatibility to third-party applications, such as Adobe Photoshop and Microsoft PowerPoint; Presto! BizCard for scanning and archiving business card data; and Epson’s ScanSmart, an ever-evolving, highly capable, and expandable scanner interface that includes state-of-the-art text-recognition, the ability to export to both image and searchable PDF and several other popular formats. ScanSmart also contains several document management features, including sequential file naming, keyword tagging, and saving to local servers and most remote cloud sites.

Epson ScanSmart app

Epson’s ScanSmart is an excellent scanner interface and simple document management utility.

Add-ons for ScanSmart include Epson’s Accounting Edition, aka Receipt Manager, which recognizes and extracts financial data from scanned receipts and invoices and saves it to a customizable database. You can then massage and export the data to several bookkeeping and tax prep programs including QuickBooks (online and desktop versions) and TurboTax. It will also export .csv files compatible with Microsoft Excel and many other apps.

Epson Receipt Manager software add on

Receipt Manager is a ScanSmart addon that scans, gleans, and sorts financial data.

Receipt Manager ships with several existing Epson scanners, including the recent Editors’ Choice for financial document scanning, the RapidReceipt RR-600W. If you don’t need all the features of that higher-end scanner, you can can add the plug-in to most Epson scanners, including the ES-400 II, for a one-time upgrade fee of $100.

Slow But Accurate Scans

I tested the ES-400 II over a USB 3.0 connection to our Intel Core i5 testbed PC running Windows 10 Professional and ScanSmart. When scanning to image PDF, it scanned our one-sided (simplex) 25-page test document at the rate of 37.7ppm and our two-sided (duplex) 25-page document at 66.7ipm. These scores are the slowest among the scanners mentioned in this review, but they’re well above acceptable for a $330 machine with a 35ppm/70ipm rating.

In many cases, the format of choice is searchable PDF. The ES-400 II took 44 seconds to scan our 25-sheet, 50-image document, convert it with OCR, and save it. Compared to the others in this group, 44 seconds is about average, with some a few seconds slower and others a few seconds faster.

See How We Test ScannersSee How We Test Scanners

Inaccurate OCR and the associated time-consuming corrections are a thing of the past. The ES-400 II converted our Arial and Times New Roman font pages error-free down to 6 points, which is plenty small enough for a huge majority of business documents. These scores are typical for 2020 devices, and greatly improved from the 2017 ES-400’s 10 points error-free on the Arial test page and 12 points on the Times New Roman page. However, a few machines in our test group, such as the Canon R40 and Brother ADS-2700DW, managed an impressive 4 points on the Arial page. Where accuracy is concerned, any of these lower-end desktop document scanners should serve you well.

During our tests of 2017’s ES-400, it sometimes frayed the edges of originals. When this happened, pages usually fed through the device cleanly enough to get passable scans, but they were then ejected haphazardly onto the output tray and stacked sloppily and out of order. Epson appears to have tweaked the ADF page guides, and we didn’t experience this problem while testing the ES-400 II.

I also scanned a few stacks of business cards into Presto! BizCard. It does a fine job of scanning and archiving data from simple cards without a lot of background fills (especially gradients), decorative fonts, and other complex design elements. If you’re dealing with frilly and whimsical cards, it’s more efficient to enter data manually.

A Fine Desktop Companion

The ES-400 II is a barebones entry-level scanner intended for scanning documents to a single computer. What it lacks in connectivity options, it makes up for with reliable operation and accurate text conversion. The competition in the entry-level sheetfed document scanner market is fierce, but few of them are priced as attractively as the ES-400 II, making it an exceptional value for home or small office use.

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