The IRIScan Desk 5 Pro won the Editors’ Choice award as the best overhead scanner in September 2019. Today, the Canon subsidiary offers three models in version 6, the most powerful and versatile being the Desk 6 Business. It has the most memory and features, the largest scanning area, and naturally the highest price ($449). It’s a lot more machine than the Desk 5 Pro, and if you can stomach its cost, it’s a superlative overhead scanner for use in corporate, educational and corporate settings. The Desk 6 Business easily succeeds its predecessor as our Editors’ Choice favorite.
The best of three
While the previous series of IRIScan contained only two models, the Desk 5 and the Desk 5 Pro, the sixth generation has three: the Desk 6, the Desk 6 Pro (to be reviewed soon) and the current Desk 6 Business testing here. Each is incrementally sturdier (and about $100 more expensive) than the model below. Even the basic Desk 6 is tightly configured to the high-end Desk 5 Pro.
Compared to Desk 6 and Desk 6 Pro (left), Desk 6 Business (right) has two additional LEDs for lighting.
As the top of the range, the Desk 6 Business scanner has a 32 megapixel (MP) camera lit by six LEDs, compared to the Desk 6’s 12MP and Desk 6’s 21MP cameras and four LEDs each. The Pro and Business models support pages up to A3 size (tabloid or 11 x 17 inches), and both have buttons that let you run scans from the scanner itself, instead of requiring a PC with the IRIScan software. But the Desk 6 Business also comes with a foot pedal to run scans, freeing up both hands to turn book pages or place new content on the scanner.
The Desk 6 Business offers both a desk button and a foot pedal to initiate scans.
Fully assembled, the Desk 6 Business measures 5.9 x 15.8 x 12 inches (HWD) and weighs 2.7 pounds, compared to 5.5 x 4.7 x 11.1 inches and 2.5 pounds for the unit Pro. Unlike traditional desktop flatbed, sheet-fed, and portable scanners, you don’t have a huge selection of overhead scanners to choose from; IRIScan’s closest competitor is probably the CZUR ET16 Plus, a 2018 PCMag favorite that’s a little bigger and weighs about half a pound more than the Desk 6 Business.
Technically, these devices are closer to cameras than scanners. Instead of moving the scanning sensor over the source material or vice versa, they simply take a photo. The Desk 6 Business’s two 16-megapixel CMOS sensors are also capable of capturing video (with audio) at up to 30 frames per second, allowing you to use the device not only for live presentations, but also to increase distance and online learning. In other words, the scanner can not only scan pages from books and magazines, but with a built-in microphone and support for Zoom and other online meetings, it helps present and teach in many scenarios.
The Business model also supports autofocus, barcode scanning, ID card and passport scanning, business card scanning via the company’s Cardiris software, and more. As mentioned, it offers both a desktop button and a foot pedal to run scans directly instead of relying solely on bundled software. (We’ll take a closer look at the software in a moment.)
Six LEDs illuminate the content and, if present, the presenter.
The connectivity of the three Desk 6 scanners is limited to USB 2.0. The Business model USB port is located at the base of the scanner/beam unit. There is also a second USB port for scanning to thumb drives and other storage devices. All Desk 6 models are USB-powered and lack built-in batteries, although the Business model comes with an AC adapter that facilitates scanning to USB storage devices instead of a computer. The others must be connected to a PC to use them even if you do not use the software. Neither offer wireless or mobile connectivity.
The Desk 6 Business scanner has a recommended daily duty cycle of 5,000 pages, 10 times that of its Desk 5 predecessors. Its resolution is 300 dots per inch (dpi), surpassing the 220 dpi of the CZUR ET16 Plus. As I said, the Desk 6 Business can also act as a digital video camera capable of shooting movies up to 2408 by 1536 pixels which you can use when streaming live presentations or record for editing. and subsequent publication.
The scanning head’s six LED lights illuminate not only your content, but also you, the material you’re presenting, or both. You also get automatic document detection; a self-timer for automatic shooting at preset intervals (leaving, for example, five seconds between pages); automatic skew correction, cropping and edge filling of damaged documents; and digitizing books with what IRIScan calls artificial intelligence functions. These include finger erase, front and back cover detection, and automatic page-turn detection, as well as straightening, cropping, and edge filling.
The excellent IRIScan software
Like their predecessors, Desk 6 scanners support Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in over 130 languages and owe much of their prowess to the IRIScan Desk scanner interface and document processing and management software . Output formats include JPG; image, text and searchable PDF; Microsoft Word and Excel; plain text; EPUB for electronic books; MP3; and WAV.
The software’s automatic edge detection helps position content precisely, automatically straightening it and converting it to readable text in seconds. You can use it in combination with your webcam to create multi-camera videos, simultaneously recording content including scanner and webcam audio. Everything is recorded in the same video and played back on a single screen, making the Desk 6 Business useful for creating tutorials, e-learning videos and correspondence courses.
Instead of moving a sensor over the content or vice versa, overhead scanners like the Desk 6 Business take a photo of the pages below.
Although the Desk 6 Business is overkill for business card scanning work, it comes with the same Cardiris business card scanning and archiving utility that comes with most IRIScan and Canon scanners. Optional add-ons include IRISPowerscan, which lets you capture MRZ codes and export metadata to structured XLS or XML files, and Readiris Corporate, which can record your videos in AVI, MP4, FLV and high-definition video formats. WMV. (Between them, however, IRISPowerscan and Readiris Corporate cost over $1,000, and there is considerable duplication of functionality between them and the bundled IRIScan Desk.)
OCR scanning speed and accuracy
Desk buttons and foot pedals are handy, but they can’t change the fact that the Desk 6 Business, its siblings and competitors are all handheld scanners – they can’t switch between pages. or scan both sides. single-sided pages automatically. You have to turn the pages yourself, although as mentioned you can set the device to scan every few seconds as you do. I tested the scanner using IRIScan Desk via a USB connection to our standard Intel Core i5 test bench under Windows 10 Pro.
IRIScan rates the Desk 6 Business’ scan speed at 1 page per second (pps) or 60 pages per minute (ppm), but keep in mind that this doesn’t take into account the time needed to edit content or turn pages of a book, magazine or document. If it takes, say, a second to turn each page (while the software saves the scan and prepares the device for the next), that should give a throughput of 30ppm.
In my tests with our 25-page Microsoft Word document, converting it to a PDF image and saving the file, the Desk 6 Business averaged about three seconds per page or 20ppm. That’s about 3ppm faster than the Desk 5 Pro and more than twice as fast as the CZUR ET16 Plus.
The IRIScan Desk software worked well, converting the text to a good clip. In fact, it scanned our Word document, converted it to a searchable PDF, and saved the file at 15ppm, almost twice as fast as the Desk 5 Pro and ET16 Plus.
Scanning accuracy is far more important than speed, as there quickly comes a time when correcting errors negates the time savings of using a scanner and OCR. The Desk 6 Business was accurate up to 6 points in our Arial and Times New Roman font tests, matching the Desk 5 Pro with Arial and beating its 8 points with Times New Roman. The CZUR also read Arial 6 points but an unimpressive 10 points with Times New Roman.
Overall, these scores are very competitive and more than adequate for today’s OCR market. I also scanned a few stacks of business cards into Cardiris and found, as I have with other scanners, that the software works fine as long as you avoid fancy cards with decorative fonts. White or lightly colored media with common serif or sans serif typefaces scan and populate the appropriate database fields much more efficiently than artistic business cards.
An aerial scanner for all applications
Without a doubt, the IRIScan Desk 6 Business is two or three times more efficient than its ancestor Desk 5 Pro. It has a 32MP camera, takes pages up to A3 size, comes with a desk button and floor pedal, and offers plenty of software features to automate and speed up the process. Its audio and video features make it ideal for teaching, presenting and hosting meetings remotely. Its price of $449 is at the top of the class, but so is the scanner. The unlikelihood of finding another to match its specs and bulk makes the Desk 6 Business our new Editors’ Choice winner among overhead scanners.
IRIScan Desk 6 professional scanner
The IRIScan Desk 6 Business is a high performance and versatile overhead book scanner with a host of features for teaching, presenting and conducting online meetings.
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