A3 may have started to catch on in medium-range printers, but scanners at this size are still fairly hard to come by. Like the majority of affordable flatbeds, the 4700 doesn't come with an ADF (Auto Document Feeder), so you won't be able to print large volumes of A3 scans out of the box. However, Xerox has a potentially rather useful little answer to this. Hook it up to a compatible ADF-equipped model from Xerox's DocuMate range, and you can use the ADF on that device to fuel the 4700. If you have to buy an ADF model separately, this won't work out as an amazingly cheap deal - the 3460, for instance, will set you back around £940 on its own. However, should you already have a compatible model, this facility could save you the cost of buying a full ADF-equipped A3 model - Xerox's own range start from around £1600. (See also: Group test: what's the best scanner?)
That's not to say that the 4700 isn't a very good scanner in its own right. A3 flatbeds are still thin enough on the ground for the 4700 to feel like quite an event. The scanner looks rather sleek, with its interesting blue/cream colour scheme. However, the A3 support necessitates a rather large 580x495mm footprint, so this isn't one you can simply squeeze into a convenient space on the desk. It has a nine-strong panel of buttons, giving quick access to a range of options, covering various different types of BMP, PDF, JPG and RTF files. You can change the defaults to suit your own needs, and the sheer number of buttons should make it possible to get one-touch execution on most of your tasks. The Xerox fully embraces cloud scanning, offering access to such services as Box.net, Google Docs, Evernote, and DropBox, and letting you create simple profiles to use with them.
On the face of it, the specifications aren't sparkling. Only 24bit is supported, and the resolution is only 600x600dpi, while the likes of the A3 Plustek OpticPro A320, for instance, can reach an optical resolution of 1600x1600dpi. However, the CIS 4700's real-world performance was vastly superior. The promise of 3.5 seconds for an A3 scan proved wildly optimistic, but we were able to achieve times of almost 8 seconds for a sheet at 300dpi, and 19 seconds for 600dpi. For A3 output, this is remarkably good - indeed, it's rather faster than many A4 models. A4 itself took a brisk 6 seconds for 300dpi, and 12 seconds for 600dpi images. The scanner turned out highly detailed scans in both A3 and A4, packing images with clarity and depth, and producing crystal clear reproduction of characters. Our colour chart threw up no imperfections, and every scan looked authentic and natural, even when rendering intricate skin tones.
The software is well-done too. PaperPort is now a very polished document manager, while OmniPage Pro allows for first-class OCR. Combined with the finely focused Xerox, we were able to achieve 97% accuracy on even our most demanding source material.