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NT Enterprise
NT Reviews
Kofax NetScan
Scanning Reaches the Masses

-- by Art Brieva

When you hear the words, "shared network resources," scanning probably isn't the first thing that pops into your head. But the NetScan scanning server, from Kofax, just might change your mind.

The package's hardware component attaches to any HP SCSI scanner and your 10BaseT network. Users log into the scanner via NetScan's LED/button panel, scan pages as usual, then return to their desks. NetScan slips the scanned image into a queue on the server, periodically polled by Kofax's Gateway application. Gateway, the NetScan control package that runs on any Windows PC client, pulls the image from the queue and forwards it to the user as an e-mail attachment.

NetScan offers several advantages over standalone scanning. Standalone scanners are often underutilized, so letting everyone share a single networked unit can be very cost-effective. Also, scanned images are often too big to fit onto a floppy disk, which can make transport from a standalone machine tedious. And the vast array of scanning options-such as file type and resolution-can make image formatting difficult to control. With NetScan managing all that, scanning becomes as automatic as using the office copier.

I installed NetScan on a NetWare 3.11 file server with a Microsoft Mail post office, then added Gateway to my client Win95 PC. I attached the NetScan hardware to my 10BaseT network and Hewlett-Packard ScanJet 4C color scanner. Then I created a user account, "NetScan," on the server. I gave the account full privileges to the NetScan home directory (SYS:\USR\NETSCAN), where the software builds its image queues. I added a new mailbox called "NetScan" to my MS Mail post office and was ready to install the NetScan software.

CD software setup was automatic. Installation adds several subdirectories to NetScan's home directory. Next, administration and user configuration utilities, an image viewer and client Gateway software are installed. Setup also prepares installation utilities that will push the software to clients and configures the Gateway with the appropriate post office paths. A post-installation reboot lets NetScan log into the server and launch the Gateway application.

Gateway can operate in the background, alongside other applications, on any networked Windows client, but I strongly recommend putting an older PC into service as a dedicated scanning server. That way you don't risk a possible system lockup when another application crashes.

On the client side, each user receives a random code number corresponding to his e-mail mailbox. You just step up to the scanner, load a document and then enter the code into the panel. The user name appears in the NetScan unit's LED panel; in the From field of a mail-like message header, you scroll through a list of network users to select one or more recipients of your scan. Press the Send button, and the system scans and mails the image.

The administrator can predefine default scan settings-a good way to enforce graphics file standards-or users can define image size, type, file and compression formats themselves through the Windows user configuration utility. Back at your workstation, you can view the image through the NetScan viewer or with any image-editing application.

Once you've got the correct setup information, it takes a reasonable 20 minutes to make NetScan completely operational. The hardware and client software are easy to use, almost self-explanatory, making them a plus in the tech-support department. But NetScan currently supports only HP scanners. Although these are probably the most popular office scanners, they're not the only widely used brand.

Kofax is really on to something with NetScan; its solution adds new capabilities to your office LAN and is well worth watching.

With Kofax's NetScan, scanning is almost as easy as setting up a networked printer.

Kofax NetScan
Price: $895
Pros: Could make scanners a common network resource
Cons: Limited server platform support; poor documentation
Server Platforms: NetWare 3.x or 4.x
Client Platforms: Any e-mail client can receive scanned images, but NetScan's viewing and scanning utilities require Windows 3.1x, 95 or NT
Kofax Image Products
888-GO-KOFAX, 714-727-1733
Circle #671 or visit Winfo Online

Windows Magazine, April 1997, page NT33.

[ Go to April 1997 Table of Contents ]