SHCC WYSIWYG Article from March 2002

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This article appeared in the March 2002 WYSIWYG newsletter.

Buying and Starting to Use a Scanner

by Don VanSyckel

If you've read this column the last couple of months, you might remember that my wife and I have been on a spending spree buying a digital camera and a laptop.  Well, being out of cash, we didn't buy anything this month, so I have nothing to write about!!

Just kidding!!  Actually I did buy a scanner.  It squeaked in the budget at only $5.84.  I cut down on lunches to afford it.  It's a Visioneer OneTouch 8100 scanner.  The feature list reads good: 1200 DPI, 42 bit color, and software including: PaperPort Deluxe 6, Text Bridge Pro 8.0 OCR, MGI Photo Suite II SE and more!  I received it only yesterday and tried it out last night.  Easy to connect and use so far but I haven't tried everything yet.  After all I was supposed to be writing this column last night, not playing with a new toy.

Well I suppose I should start with the price.  I didn't actually pay $5.84 for a scanner.  A $1.05 of that was for a box of rubber bands.  Here's the story.

A friend at work told me about a deal Staples had on their web site.  This scanner selling for $99.99 had a rebate of $80.  In addition, Staples was offering a $20 instant cash rebate on orders of more than $100.  So I ordered the box of rubber bands to push my order 'over the top'.  I understand there are a couple web sites that post hot deals.  This might be a subject for another column.

I had purchased both PaperPort Deluxe and Text Bridge in the past so I checked the versions.  In both cases the software included with the scanner is one version old.  I had PaperPort Deluxe 7 and Text Bridge Pro 9.0.  This addresses one question that I've wondered about, which is: how can so much software be included with some products?  Well in this case you get to use the software and then be enticed to upgrade to the current version.  I'm not saying the 'one old' versions aren't good.  After all they were the 'current version' at one time.  I loaded PaperPort Deluxe 7 on the XP laptop.  I unwrapped the scanner, unlocked the mechanism (a nice feature), plugged it in, turned it on, and started using it.  It couldn't have been simpler.

A 'scanning project' which I have been trying to find time to do is to scan all the family photos.  To try out the scanner I scanned in one pack (roll) of pictures.  In using PaperPort each picture had to be scanned twice First in the 'preview' mode, the scan area would auto set to the size of the picture, almost.  I had to adjust the size so that the edge didn't show in the scan, and then scan the picture a second time in the 'scan' mode, which actually saved the data.  This went pretty well but I was disappointed that I couldn't set the scan area and then simply 'scan', 'scan', 'scan'.  If you know how to do this, let me know.  I then experimented with some of the other features of the software.  There's a 'Picture Wizard' which attempts to tweak the picture (data) so it appears better.  This works to a point.  There's no substitute for a 'good' scan but this wizard can help with what you have.  There are also icons for parts of the wizard if you don't need to run the entire thing.  Possibly after I have a chance to use this software more and learn it a little I'll do a review.

I want to load the MGI Photo Suite II SE and see what features it offers to assist with my scanning project.  If anyone is familiar with a package they think is really good at scanning photos, let me know.  If it's not expensive it could be worth a look if the photo scanning is simplified.

The USB interface operated well.  I have some reservations about the connectors though.  They seem OK to plug together, but I plan to take the laptop with me places, and I wonder if the USB connectors will hold up to repeated plugging and unplugging.  USB connector life and USB do'es and don'ts sounds like another month.  The scanner also comes with a parallel printer port interface and cable.  This interface supports all version of Windows including NT4 (NT4 does not support USB).

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