There was a time when scanners were one of the most sought-after peripherals when you bought a new computer. Back then, flatbed and handheld models from the likes of Logitech or Microtek vied for your custom.
That was before someone in an engineering team had the bright idea to merge a scanner and a printer to launch the first all-in-one printer, which triggered the slow death of standalone scanners.
So much so, the sad truth is that you can end up paying more than twice the amount for the latter compared to the former.
However, if there is a market where printer-less scanners thrive, it is the B2B market where dreams of a paperless environment have all but vanished.
With reams of archived documents, magazines and books still taking precious space on physical shelves and in danger of slowly disintegrating (or being eaten by termites and bookworms), there's potentially hundreds of terabytes of data waiting to be digitised.
That is the market that Brother's ImageCenter ADS-3600W, priced around the £600 mark (it retails for $800 in the US, which is about AU$1140), is trying to capture. Billed as a high-speed wireless document scanner for mid to large size workgroups, it is a compact peripheral that embodies the military concept of fire-and-forget: just press the start button and it should work fine.
You could easily mistake the ADS-3600W for an old school, gravity-fed inkjet printer. Even if it is made of plastic, it feels solid and durable – the sheet-feeder easily comes off and extends to a decent length, allowing it to cater for a wide range of print media. Ditto for the non-detachable paper tray that stretches out by about 600mm (around two feet).
Brother suggests that the maximum paper capacity of the ADF (automatic document feeder) is 50 sheets but we've tried with double that amount and can confirm that it works fine. Your mileage may vary though.
The front of the device plays host to the power button, three touch sensitive icons, an NFC receiver and a 3.7-inch resistive touchscreen display.
Located at the back of the ADS-3600W are a GbE Ethernet port, a USB 3.0 connector, a Kensington lock and the power connector. On the right-hand side is another port that accepts USB storage peripherals.
Overall the device is pretty compact measuring around 310 x 260 x 250mm with a weight of 4.6Kg, making it fairly portable, something you can easily store in a drawer for future use.