When it comes to top-quality scanners, the Epson Expression 1600 is blue-chip all the way. This 36-bit color flatbed boasts higher resolution and faster performance than do most scanners in its class, and it produces images with accurate color and keen-edged details. Not surprisingly, the Expression 1600 also comes at a premium price: On the street it ranges from $800 to $1400, depending on the hardware options and bundled software.
Until recently, the highest resolution offered by most scanners intended for corporate users was 1200 by 2400 dpi. The Expression 1600 raises the ante by providing a true optical resolution of 1600 by 3200 dpi. Scanning at that higher resolution is most useful for enlarging small images--such as 35mm slides--without losing detail or color quality.
The Expression 1600, which supports both the SCSI and Universal Serial Bus interfaces, is also the Road Runner of scanners. In tests of its USB performance for PC World's monthly Top 10 Scanners review, the Expression 1600 was faster than any other USB or SCSI scanner on the corporate chart. The Expression 1600 scanned a 5-by-7-inch color photo at 600 dpi in 0.85 minute, compared to about 1.25 minutes for the SCSI-based Canon CanoScan FB 1200S and the USB-tested HP ScanJet 6350C--a time savings of approximately 45 percent.
Versatile and Hardy
Like Umax's PowerLook III and similar high-end scanners, the Expression 1600 is built for heavy-duty use. Weighing 18.7 pounds, the unit measures 13 by 22.2 by 5.2 inches (width by depth by height). Epson also offers a transparency adapter unit for the Expression 1600, which adds another 11 pounds to the weight, an extra 12.8 by 21.3 by 3.6 inches to the footprint, and $299 to the base price. For those who want a scanner that's also capable of high-volume optical character recognition work, Epson has an optional, 30-sheet automatic document feeder that costs $499.
The Expression 1600 is available in four different configurations. If you scan only reflective art, including color, grayscale, and black-and-white letter-size documents, take a look at the $799 Special Edition model, or the $899 Artist model, which comes with image editing, OCR, and other software. If you also plan to scan transparencies, the $1099 Pro model includes a transparency adapter with an 8.5-by-11.7-inch scanning area. All three models have USB and SCSI connections, and include a USB cable (Epson sells a SCSI card-and-cable kit for about $50). The fourth model is the top-of-the-line, $1399 Pro FireWire model, which comes with a transparency adapter and an IEEE 1394 FireWire scanner interface card and cable, and requires Windows 2000 or Mac OS 7.5 or greater.
The Special Edition model comes with Epson's TWAIN Pro and network scanner software, while the three other configurations also include Adobe Photoshop 5.0 LE for image editing, Xerox TextBridge Classic for OCR, NewSoft Presto PageManager for document management, and Monaco System's MonacoEZcolor, a color-management system.