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I try to keep a digital copy of all paperwork for the business. This then gets backed up. I used to scan it all in with an Epson flatbed scanner. In the beginning it was fine, as it was a few papers a month so scanning one sheet at a time was not a problem.
But the business grew and with it the amount of paperwork per month also grew. By last year the process of scanning all documents for the month took up quite some time, even if I scanned it as soon as I got it. The process was becoming cumbersome and time consuming.
I was starting to think of getting a scanner with a multi-document feeder. Problem was that they were expensive and incompatible with Linux (We don't have any Windows machines at the office). I tried to find one for a client and could not find one.
So my options was to buy one and buy a PC as well as Windows and anti-virus. Which makes it an expensive project and I will have to deal with a Windows machine, which I do not like too much. The alternative would be to buy an Apple Mac Mini to act as scanner server, which still makes the project expensive.
Then, one day, while visiting Autumn Leaf, Franco showed me the new multi-function printer they bought and he mentioned that you can set it up to save a scanned document to a Windows shared drive. It was also not very expensive. It was the HP Officejet Pro L7680 All-in-One.
Now this got my interest. I knew that there were scanners available that can email a scanned job to you, but the ones I saw was very expensive. So I started to shop around for this printer and I managed to buy one from eShopper for under R3000, which was acceptable as it also replaced our aging Epson Stylus C86 ink jet printer. It also have fax capabilities, so we can directly fax paper documents without first scanning them.
We received the unit 2 days after ordering and I started to assemble it. Quite a process. I had to actually look at the documentation to get all the bits and pieces together in the correct order.
Then the initial startup and configuration came. It takes a while to boot up, but the configuration was easy. It basically does everything itself. Then it was ready to play with. It connects to your network via ethernet, so you don't need to attach it to a PC and set up drivers and all that. You access it via a web interface to do configuration and check status. You can even do a scan via the web interface and download the image. Now that is a very nice function if you have visitors to the office that quickly needs something scanned. No need to get access to somebody's PC and all that kind of disruption.
The main function that I was interested in was the Direct Digital Filing function. You can configure up to 10 pre-configured scanning profiles, or speed-dials as they refer to it in the web interface. Each speed-dial consists of the remote share (a SAMBA share in our case) where the document will be stored, the document type (PDF or JPG), paper size, quality of scan, darkness setting, single or double sided and a prefix for the file name. You can also enter a username and password for the share if required.
Then, to scan a document, you press the 'Digital Filing' button, then select a speed dial option from the list it gives you and press the 'Start Scan' button. When the scan is done, you go and look on your PC and it is there. Very nice. You can also override any of the pre-set settings before you scan,
The only problem we had so far is that every now and again it fails to connect to the SAMBA server, but when you try again, it works. This also only happens with the first scan after the unit has been in stand-by mode.
Printing to it from Linux turns out to be very easy. Configuring it in CUPS was quick and easy. Cups have the model in the list and within a minute we could print some very good quality colour documents. It also prints much faster than the little Epson C86.
Other handy functions include: double-sided printing, double-sided scanning (The doc feeder does it automatically if you tell it to scan both sides), colour copies, double-sided copies, double-sided faxing, photo printing and manipulation directly from all kinds of memory devices (I have not played with this yet, but there are many slots and some buttons under a PHOTO section on the front panel.
It features a colour LCD screen that makes selections, etc easy.
Scanning quality is quite good and it seems that it automatically adjusts the quality to match the type of document it scans. I installed the Mac client software on my old TiBook just to see what it includes and I did a manual scan, where I selected my own resolution and quality, as I am used to with previous scanners and the result was still not as good as when I let the unit do it's own optimisations. I am quite impressed.
The ink system also impressed me. I am a fan of Epson because the heads are not part of the ink cartridge, as most standard HP ink jet printers are. The L7680 also feature separate heads, although the heads still have a small reservoir on them and you still change them from time to time, but not as often as the actual ink cartridges. The ink cartridges are situated behind an access panel on the front of the unit, so it is easy to replace the cartridge. The ink is fed through tubes to the heads.
We actually got more than we bargained for and scanning all the business paperwork is now actually a pleasure. I can definitely recommend this printer/scanner to any business.

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