Brother ADS-4900W review: A high standard for desktop scanning

Speed, features, output quality and value make this desktop scanner the perfect choice for SMBs

The Brother ADS 4900W printer

IT Pro Verdict


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    Speedy printing

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    Lots of connection options

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    Simple installation


    Stepping up to the pinnacle of Brother's new family of business desktop scanners, the ADS-4900W takes everything that impressed us with its predecessor, the ADS-3600W, and makes it bigger and faster. Colour and mono scan speeds receive a 20% boost to 60ppm, its automatic document feeder (ADF) doubles in capacity to 100 pages, and it can take even more punishment with the recommended daily duty cycle increasing from 5,000 to 9,000 pages.

    Connection options abound: it teams up USB 3 with wired or wireless connection options, and the latter now supports 802.11a/n 5GHz networks. The colour touchscreen has been widened from 9.3cm to a more finger-friendly 10.9cm, and a small switch above it allows you to manually select single-sheet and multi-sheet feed modes.

    Brother's generous software bundle includes Nuance's Paperport 14 SE digital file cabinet and the Kofax Power PDF 3 OCR and document conversion tool. Windows desktops have the iPrint&Scan and ScanEssentials utilities, while mobile users get Brother's free Mobile Connect iOS and Android apps.

    Installation is simple. We downloaded Brother's general-purpose utility from its support site, entered the scanner model and left it to load the drivers, the iPrint&Scan app and a firmware update tool. A separate utility handles the rest of the software bundle, with the whole process taking 30 minutes.

    The ADS-4900W more than delivers on its speed promises, with scans of a 40-page sheaf of bank statements returning 66ppm at 200dpi and 300dpi resolutions for both greyscale and colour. Speed dropped to a creditable 17ppm at 600dpi, but you won't need such a high resolution as quality at 200dpi is perfectly acceptable for archival systems, with the software's OCR capabilities correctly converting every word on our statements down to small 6pt fonts.

    The scanner's touchscreen is a pleasure to use. Two basic menu pages provide quick access to common walk-up tasks such as scanning directly to network PCs with Brother's software installed, network shares or FTP, SharePoint and email servers. These can be customised from the web interface by creating up to 25 profiles, which appear as shortcuts in the screen for quick selection.

    Another feature that streamlines operations even further is the option to add more shortcuts grouped under six custom tabs in the touchscreen. Each tab contains up to eight shortcuts, and access can be protected by enabling the restriction management feature in the web console so that they can only be selected after entering a username and PIN.

    Look no further for the best scan-to-cloud services, as the ADS-4900W can send documents directly to SharePoint Online, Dropbox, Google Drive, OneDrive, OneNote, Evernote and Box accounts. It's really easy to set up each one using Brother's Web Connect portal; we registered our Dropbox account by entering the unique 11-digit code it provided at the scanner's touchscreen with PIN-protected access. We used the Mobile Connect app on an iPad to remotely connect to the scanner, pull in scans and save them locally or email them as JPEGs and PDFs. An NFC chip is no longer present but the ADS-4900W supports standard external IC card readers, which can be attached to its USB port and registered in the web interface.

    The iPrint&Scan desktop app links up with the scanner over the network and provides one-touch workflows that define local, cloud, email or other apps as destinations, along with settings such as a resolution and searchable PDF (sPDF) output. This app is the preferred choice if you have networked Brother printers as well but, if not, you can use the dedicated ScanEssentials app which provides the same quick scan features.

    The ADS-4900W sets a high standard for desktop scanning, as it combines top performance with great output quality at an affordable price. Its smart colour LCD panel makes light work of walk-up scanning, the software bundle adds extra versatility and Brother's scan-to-cloud features are simply the best.

    Brother ADS-4900W Specifications

    Swipe to scroll horizontally
    Formate600dpi A4 colour scanner
    Print speed60ppm at 300dpi colour/mono
    Display10.9cm colour touchscreen
    ConnectivityUSB 3 USB 2 host 10/100 5GHz802.11a/n wireless WiFi Direct
    Print typeSimplex/duplex
    Dave Mitchell

    Dave is an IT consultant and freelance journalist specialising in hands-on reviews of computer networking products covering all market sectors from small businesses to enterprises. Founder of Binary Testing Ltd – the UK’s premier independent network testing laboratory - Dave has over 45 years of experience in the IT industry.

    Dave has produced many thousands of in-depth business networking product reviews from his lab which have been reproduced globally. Writing for ITPro and its sister title, PC Pro, he covers all areas of business IT infrastructure, including servers, storage, network security, data protection, cloud, infrastructure and services.