- — 15 January, 2004 09:00
- Before choosing a scanner
- Some background info to consider
- Basics no one will be bothered to tell you about scanning
- Forewarned is forearmed - have your answers READY!
- Scanner technology - the need-to-know stuff
<---cs:Software with which scanners are commonly associated:cs--->
Software with which scanners are commonly associated
Image Editing Software
This is the software used to manipulate colour, greyscale and line art pictures, which usually correspond with settings in the scanner's TWAIN driver.
Almost all scanners will ship with some type of image editing software, whether it be a cut-down version of a full product such as Adobe Photoshop or the full version itself.
Optical Character Recognition Software
This software is used to get text documents into a word processor without having to retype the document. Good OCR packages will be able to understand a variety of languages as well as have the ability to retain formatting. As with image editing software, most scanners will ship with either a full version of OCR software such as Omni Page or a cut-down version.
Unlike printing, there are no ongoing consumables costs involved in scanning. Your scanner's initial purchase cost plus the cost of any accessories and additional software will pretty much determine the bulk of your scanning costs.
Some hidden costs to look out for are hardware upgrades to your PC that may be needed to run the software for manipulating the images or documents you have scanned. Other costs include the purchase of optional accessories such as automatic document feeders or film holders.
Also keep in mind that an A4 or A3 flatbed scanner will require a substantial amount of desk space. Remember, too, that if you are planning to do a lot of scanning - especially of colour images at high resolutions using large bit depths - then you are going to use up a lot of hard disk storage space.
Your scanning costs will be determined by your initial knowledge of your exact requirements of the scanner and how your PC needs to be configured to accommodate them. All things considered, it can range from under $100 up to tens of thousands of dollars.
|Scanners: an overview|
|Feature||Low End||Mid-range||High End|
|Resolution||600 by 1200 dpi||1200 by 2400 to 2400 by 4800 dpi||2400 by 2400 to 2400 by 4800 dpi|
|An important consideration. The resolution indicates how detailed the digital image will be. The higher the numbers, the sharper the scans will be. This is especially important when making enlargements.|
|Scan area||8.5 by 11.7 inches||8.5 by 11.7 to 8.5 by 14 inches||8.5 by 11.7 to 8.5 by 14 inches|
|Somewhat important. While few home users will need to scan legal-size documents, business users may find the letter-size scan area of most scanners too small. A larger scan area also makes it easier to scan large books, maps, drawings, paintings, newspapers, and tabloids.|
|Scan head technology||CIS or CCD||CCD||CCD|
|Somewhat important. CCD (charge-coupled device) scanner heads are far more common than CIS (contact image sensor) models, and generally provide higher-resolution scans. CIS-based scanners are often smaller than CCD scanners and may not need a separate power cord, but some models will scan faster if you use an optional power cord instead of powering them from the PC's USB port. CIS scanners can't use transparencies or automatic document feeders.|
|Scanner ports||USB 1.1, parallel||USB 1.1, USB 2.0, parallel, IEEE 1394||USB 2.0, IEEE 1394, SCSI|
|Somewhat important. Your PC has to have a compatible port to connect with the scanner. Most scanners come with a USB 1.1 port, which is fast enough for small jobs. Some scanners offer dual interfaces--like USB and parallel--to allow them to work with older computers. Only the newest USB 2.0-capable PCs are able to reap the speed benefits of a USB 2.0-capable scanner.|