Contex is probably the largest manufacturer of wide format scanners worldwide. They’ve acquired their primary competitor, Colotrac, and provide (OEM) scanners for HP wide format.
The quality and reliability of Contex scanners is excellent, particularly in the IQ Quattro or HD Ultra line. While the HD Ultra line is best for graphics, historical document preservation and thick media mounted on poster board, the IQ Quattro and SD One lines are engineered for technical scanning.
The SD One scanner is available in 24” 36” and 44”. Prices range from $2,700 to $3,900. These are a great fit when you just have occasional scanning. The target market is for construction sites and sub-contractors who need to scan as-built construction plans or need to have a digital format to perform take-offs for estimating.
The scan quality is good on the SD One and they have built-in tools for creating markups. They’re durable and mobile too so, moving a scanner between job-sites is easy. Scanning and copying operations are performed using the built-in touchscreen so you don’t need a separate PC to use as the controller. Basic functions include; pre-defined document types, set resolution 200, 300, or 600 DPI, file format, i.e. PDF, TIF, JPG, contrast adjustment. Scan speed is under 2 ips (inches per second). Fast enough for a few documents but not a good fit for scanning multi-page plan sets or an archive of hard copy.
The IQ Quattro scanner is also available in 24” 36” and 44”. Prices range from $3900 to $7500. These are really the flagship scanners for productive technical scanning. A large touch screen LCD and MS Windows PC are used to drive the scanner. Contex includes powerful, yet easy to use, NextImage Repro or NextImage Archive software for batch scanning, auto file naming, advanced image enhancement or correction, saving to multiple file formats and even accounting. A lot going on here but, the interface is easy to learn and use.
These are fast scanners too – up to 14ips per second. So, you can fly through a plan set or archive of wide format documents in no time. They’re not portable like the SD One but, don’t need much calibration either. And, reliability is top notch. We see very few service problems with IQ scanners. However, I still recommend keeping a service plan in place.
So, just to recap; the Contex SD One scanners are a good fit for occasional scans for sharing as-built drawings with other project stakeholders direct from the job site or estimating office.
The Contex IQ Quattro scanners are more about productivity and working with batches of documents or those in poor condition that need enhancement.