Imaging devices with style: Scanjet 4670, Photosmart 7960

The 4670 A4 flatbed scanner is unique in that the scanning bed can be removed from its holder and used to scan objects simply by holding it over them. This makes it somewhat portable, although you are obviously limited by the com­bined USB and power cable that is plugged into the unit.

The modern industrial design is interesting, and the appearance of the 4670 makes it one of those products that many people will look at and say, “Wow! What a weird device.” The whole unit looks like it is either some sort of see-through LCD screen or a picture frame; the scanning bed is transparent and allows you to see the image being scanned and also the scanning component as it slides up and down the image! HP Scanjet 4670

It has impressive specifications, too, with an optical scanning resolution of 2400dpi and a colour depth of 48-bits, while using CCD scanning technology. I tested the unit with various images containing strong colours and skin tones, as well as line art and OCR pages. Its speed is impressive — a 300dpi, A4-sized scan took only one minute — and the detail and colour of scanned images is very good. The 4670 uses the ReadIRIS software program for OCR and it was very accurate, with only two or three minor mistakes in our test scan.

Complete installation of the imaging software and the drivers will take 10 to 15 minutes. The hardware installation process is wonderfully explained within the driver setup program, with clear and smooth video instructions.

To print all the images you’ve scanned with the 4670, you could turn to HP’s new Photosmart 7960 inkjet printer, which is an elegant device that boasts direct memory card printing plus an LCD status and preview screen. This A4 printer will also accept 4x6in photo paper, and it handles borderless printing.Its eight-ink printing system (through two multi-colour and one dedicated black cartridges) gives the 7960 a huge printing scope of 72.9 million colours. Although the human eye can’t see that many colours, the capability is there to provide smoother gradients for shadows and fine photographic detail.

We tested the printer with an assortment of Word and Excel documents and photos. An A4 page filled with black text (Word document) took under 20 seconds to emerge from the printer in normal (600dpi) mode, while the same page with mixed fonts and a splattering of colour highlights took 31 seconds. Text output was not too dark but was slightly fuzzy around the edges, but the settings can be tweaked through the driver for higher detail or economy modes. Preset tasks in the driver mean a minimum of tweaking will be required, as most common jobs are listed.

HP Photosmart 7690

An A4 photo at the highest possible quality took just over four minutes to print, and the sharpness and colour richness of photo print-outs was excellent. 4x6in photos (and, indeed, A4 photos) can be printed directly from the contents of a CompactFlash, SD, MMC, MemoryStick or SmartMedia card, or even directly from an HP camera via a USB connection. The LCD screen on the unit allows the contents to be viewed easily and even modified.

The control buttons on the printer are well spaced and clearly labelled, and make the unit a pleasure to use. The 7960’s black cartridge costs $44.15, while the tri-colour and photo cartridges cost $73.95 and $53.95, respectively. My only beef with the unit is its overall flimsy feel. The buttons are a little hard to press and the paper guides don’t slide smoothly enough for my liking.

In brief: HP Scanjet 4670
Although relatively high in price, scan quality in terms of colour and sharp­ness is good and the design is innovative.
Price: $699

HP Photosmart 7960
Well featured and easy to use, the 7960 provides excellent A4 and 4x6in prints.
Price: $499
Vendor: Hewlett-Packard
Phone: 13 2347

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Elias Plastiras
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