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Searching for a Decent Scanner? 425

Posted by Cliff
from the what-would-you-recommend dept.
Stumped about Scanners asks: "My little sister's scanner is acting up, so she's in the market for a new one. However, the software she wishes to use it with (some funkadelic 'music OCR' thing that lets you scan sheet music and transforms it automagically into MIDI files) claims that it doesn't work too well with HP scanners. And, truth be told, I've never known much about which scanners are good and which are crap. So, which scanners lately are decent? Which are crap? I know that DPI matters very little (just like it does in printers)-- it's quality that matters. Could the SlashDot community provide some info on which scanners (some from HP and some not from HP) are decent? Are there any quasi-reputable sites (a la Tom's Hardware?) that have reviews on such things?"
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Searching for a Decent Scanner?

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  • by EggMan2000 (308859) * on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:21PM (#13521756) Homepage Journal
    There are a lot of scanners on the market and they are realy not that different anymore. Your sister needs to get a TWAIN compatable scanner that is a stand-alone. Here are a few Epson scanners [epson.com]. A lot of these companies are really afraid of HP b/c HP offers these multi-purpose devices. Those can really suck. But for the money the Epson above should do the trick. But compare them to UMAX, Canon, etc.

    Just remember: "TWAIN" not "WIA" not "All-in-one"

    • by skiflyer (716312) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:24PM (#13521779)
      Actually, All-in-one's are still sitting on and old reputation from when there were alot of crappy ones that liked to crap out after a year.

      But now a days, plenty of companies make all in ones that are really nice pieces of equipment.... I'd specifically mention HP & Canon in this category myself... the laser ones anyway, no experience with the inkjet ones.
      • by brokeninside (34168) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:38PM (#13521940)
        They're nice machines, but mine only lasted about a year and half (maybe two years). After which it needed a scanner bulb replacement and HP didn't offer the part for sale. Rather, one had to purchase the whole scanner assembly in order to fix the multifunction device. Worse, not even the print function works when the device reports a scanner error.

        Prior to this meltdown, I was pretty pleased with the unit. Getting it to play nice with OS X Panther was a royal bear, but that problem was fixed by the time that Panther had been out about a year.

        I wanted to buy one of the Canon or Samsung models to replace it, but neither offered OS X drivers for their multifunction devices. If I didn't have such a limited amount of space, I would have bought a separate printer, copier, and scanner. Separately, they wouldn't have had much of a premium over all-in-one units.

        I ended up buying another HP. Unless you want to spend a couple thousand on industrial grade machines, they're pretty much the only game in town for laser all-in-ones for OS X.
    • by Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) * <seebert42@gmail.com> on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:29PM (#13521839) Homepage Journal
      Uh, can somebody explain to me why they consider all-in-oners not to be TWAIN compatible? TWAIN is after all a software protocol, and my wife's Epson scanner/printer/copier/fax seems to be TWAIN compatible (in that I can hook up to it's driver as a TWAIN source in Paint Shop Pro and get a picture back).
      • by Anonymous Coward
        I don't think he meant to imply that the all-in-ones weren't necessarily twain, but that they sucked. I agree.
    • by sconeu (64226) on Friday September 09, 2005 @06:16PM (#13522730) Homepage Journal
      Do *NOT* get UMAX. They don't provide free updates and support, and you absolutely cannot get most of their scanners to work under SANE/XSANE.
    • by tonywong (96839) on Saturday September 10, 2005 @02:23AM (#13524898) Homepage
      Meh.

      175 upmoderated posts and not a lot of real info.

      There are two common consumer level scanners. CCD based and CMOS. Both types are good for 99.9% of consumer requirements of resolution and colour accuracy. So I suppose that price, driver quality, and reliability come into play as discriminating factors in your purchase.

      Most scanners are TWAIN compliant nowadays, and if you use vuescan then the software is not a major differentiator either.

      CCD based is the traditional scanner as you know it. Every manufacturer uses it except Canon's LIDE based models. Works well and can scan in 3 dimensional objects and the like. Epson's models are quite good, UMAX are lower quality but generally cheaper. HP I haven't had any recent experience with, but they have been OK in the past.

      CMOS based scanners are the basis of Canon's LIDE lineup. CMOS based systems were/are considered the holy grail of imaging systems because they are less power consuming and cheaper to manufacture than CCD based units. This is why Canon's scanners can be powered via USB and make decent portable units. Canon manages to compensate for CMOS' inherently noiser systems by a proprietary calibration technique. This is why most other manufacturers are behind Canon in CMOS based imagers for scanning. The biggest drawback to CMOS based scanners are the lack of focal depth in three dimensional or thicker objects. Since sheet music is flat a CMOS based system may good for your sister if she values portability. The lack of a wall wart is a bonus to me and reduces the tangle of cables as well.

      Reliability wise, I've never had too much an issue with scanners unless they've been roughly transported or dropped.
  • HP tend to be very easy to hook up, and integrate well with Windows. Aside from that, I can't help you.
    • Yeah, only took 2 hours to get my USB HP scanner hooked up. It came with a crayy USB cable. Replaced that and it finally, mostly worked.

      Never got the TWAIN interface working well enough for Photoshop to scan more than 1 image without the scan preview window crashing.
    • by Novus (182265)
      The HP PSC series has been quite painful to configure for network use, especially on mixed Windows systems. HP has, for example, wrapped drivers together with a lot of other irrelevant software, preventing you from e.g. just reinstalling the printer driver. This is at least my experience with an HP PSC 1210; newer models may be better. Surprisingly, the Linux drivers are excellent.
      • by thc69 (98798)
        I have a customer with a PSC1210. I've been having an awful time trying to get the thing running. I'm going there tomorrow with a download of the latest driver...

        OTOH, at my office we just got an Officejet 6210 all-in-one a few weeks ago. It's performing quite well, although the ADF occasionally feeds two sheets if they haven't been fanned.
      • by n8ur (230546)
        Last year my organization bought one of the cheap ($69 at Sam's Club) PSC combo units to use in our exhibit booth at a show. It was very amusing to watch the configuration process on a Windows laptop and on a Linux laptop.

        The Windows installation took about 45 minutes, with many interesting words being said along the way.

        The Linux installation, including downloading and installing the Debian packages for the HP office printer project (or whatever it's called) took less than ten minutes. And it worked perf
    • And as with all hardware, I guess, make sure that it's compatible with Linux if you wish to run such a beast at a later date.

      I didn't bother checking about my HP 36-something-something. I recently switched to using Ubuntu, and SANE [sane-project.org] won't touch my HP with a bargepole.

      It works fairly well with Windows, but uses some ActiveX functionality for its document store/display which IE tends to worry about being a security issue. Might scare the uninitiated.
      • funny story... (Score:4, Informative)

        by schon (31600) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:02PM (#13522148)
        We sell high-end scanners (as in SCSI sheet-fed units designed to run all day) here at work. We got a new Fujitsu unit in, and the techs were setting it up in Windows 2000 (which is what the client was using.)

        It took them about an hour of putzing with SCSI drivers and trying different settings to get it to work 100% (getting the document feeder to work properly).

        When they were done, I stuck my Knoppix 3.7 CD in the machine and started it up. I opened XSANE, and just started scanning. Knoppix saw the scanner, recognized that it had a document feeder, and I was able to start scanning with it immediately.
  • Add to Question (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rknop (240417) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:24PM (#13521784) Homepage
    Which ones are well-supported by SANE, so us Linux (etc.) users can use it?

    I generally find that the models on the shelf in CompUSA and the like are not supported by SANE (at least the ones that are on the less expensive end). Meanwhile, the ones that SANE says they support are all more than a month or two old. I don't know why so much of the computer industry feels the need to put out a new model number with essentially the same functionality every couple of months, but printers and scanners in particular seem to suffer from that. It makes it difficult for those of us using free drivers to keep up with.

    What's a good, low-end, *current* scanner that you can get that works with SANE?

    -Rob
    • Re:Add to Question (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Feyr (449684) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:32PM (#13521874) Journal
      i have an old scsi UMAX scanner here that's a serious pain in the ass (read: almost impossible) to get working in windows according to cow-workers. SANE picked it up on the first try, and the quality is even good!

      feyr my SANE-ity
      • Re:Add to Question (Score:3, Insightful)

        by greed (112493)
        Yup; I've got a Microtek X6USB that only works in MacOS 8.6... if you use Microtek's alledged drivers and scanning software.

        SANE (Linux) and VueScan (Mac), on the other hand, will drive it just fine.

        OTOH, the stepper motors are making some really, really odd noises these days... so I'll be watching the recommendations this topic pulls out with interest.

        My general rule of hardware: If it only works with the manufacturer's software, it's crap. The number of times I've had manufacturers just stop suppor

    • HP all-in-ones work very well with SANE, provided you have the HPOJ drivers installed. Sadly, the only distro I know of that installs them by default is Ubuntu, and even then, it's only in Breezy, which won't go stable for another month.

      This comes from over a year of working with an old HP PSC 950 on FC1 and every version of Ubuntu through Breezy.
    • Re:Add to Question (Score:3, Interesting)

      by rudedog (7339)
      Nearly any epson scanner will work very well with Sane. I seem to recall reading somewhere that Epson provides the Sane project with any information they need to make a driver. I recently bought a Perfection 2480 Photo and it worked almost as soon as I plugged it in. All I had to do was extract the firmware from the install CD.
  • go EPSON (Score:5, Informative)

    by aurelien (115604) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:25PM (#13521787)
    AFAIK the quality is top, the price correct, and it plays very nice with any OS (espacially p'n'p under linux with xsane).
  • Well... (Score:5, Informative)

    by coldmist (154493) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:25PM (#13521792) Homepage
    I have a Microtek 6800 and a Fujitsu grayscale duplex scanner right now. I've owned Umax too and helped install HP scanners for others.

    Epson and Microtek are probably the best 100-400 scanners. You get what you pay for if you go less than that.

    I don't like Epson's drivers. They didn't give me as much control over the scan as the Microtek ones do. The Microtek drivers have a few annoyances, but are full-featured.

    Overall, for a good average user, a $150 scanner from Microtek or Epson would be a good investment.
  • Tom's Hardware (Score:4, Informative)

    by slapout (93640) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:26PM (#13521796)
    Are there any quasi-reputable sites (a la Tom's Hardware?) that have reviews on such things?

    Well, Tom's Hardware does have some scanner reviews. Although I don't know if they have the detail you're looking for:

    http://www17.tomshardware.com/search/search.html?c ategory=consumer&words=scanner [tomshardware.com]

    http://www.tomshardware.com/consumer/20020327/inde x.html [tomshardware.com]

  • Enter it yourself (Score:5, Interesting)

    by ericdano (113424) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:26PM (#13521798) Homepage
    Being a professional musician myself, I have tried a lot of these software scanning solutions. Basically, it's easier and faster to just enter scores into a sequencer (like Digital Performer [motu.com] than to deal with the corrections you have to make when dealing with these music to midi scanners.

    Save yourself time and money. Get a good keyboard, synth module, and a sequencer and do it that way. Scanning it to midi just doesn't ever work right.

    • Re:Enter it yourself (Score:3, Informative)

      by damiam (409504)
      Seconded. If the music you're scanning is remotely complex, the software will fuck it up completely. You'll spend more time fixing its mistakes than you would have just entering the music by hand or with a MIDI keyboard.
      • Exactly. To claify though, most of the scanning software scans at 300dpi. So, it really doesn't matter what scanner you get. I'd get something that could handle larger paper, as scores are sometimes on something bigger than 8 1/2 x 11 paper.

        Still, I've found it is less time consuming just to enter the stuff. Most things are doubled in other instruments anyhow, so you just copy and paste.....

    • I'd like to do the same thing for Linux but haven't found any good software for entering scores ... Noteworthy Composer is the best one I've used for quickly entering scores (keyboard-only input is a must) on Windows, but I haven't found anything similar for Linux. Anyone have suggestions?

      Dlugar
      • by Pete (2228)

        I've used Rosegarden [rosegardenmusic.com] to enter a few pieces of music, and it's pretty good. I tend to focus more on tweaking the output to look exactly the way I want, and Rosegarden's output to Lilypond [lilypond.org] needed a fair bit of tweaking. Well, rewriting. :-)

        There's probably a chance that Rosegarden's export to MUP [arkkra.com] or PMX [icking-music-archive.org] or (various other options) works better. I've only recently started using Lilypond (after using MusixTeX for a while), so I'm probably not doing things in the most efficient way.

        As mentioned by the AC,

    • Re:Enter it yourself (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Clod9 (665325)
      >Save yourself time and money. Get a good keyboard, synth module, and a sequencer

      Maybe you haven't looked at the price of scanners lately? Buying all that other gear won't save any money. She already has the software.

      It will probably save a lot of time, except if his sister: (1) is not a skilled keyboard musician, (2) does not sight-read, and (3) the music she's scanning is not overly complex, then the software conversion can save time. I speak from experience, as a geek who has worked with studio musi

      • Re:Enter it yourself (Score:3, Interesting)

        by ericdano (113424)
        1 and 2 are solved by a thing called STEP ENTRY. Easy, simple, fast.

        3 is doubtful. I couldn't get any of the scanning software I have (Scoreperfect I think its called, but I don't remember) to do a simple sheet from Green Day.

  • HP (Score:2, Interesting)

    I happen to be very happy with most of HP's products. They make some inexpensive scanners that work very well for OCR and music OCR scanning. My little brother and his music classes used $79 HP scanners with music OCR software on handwritten sheets and it worked great.

    I would think that it is more the OCR software that would have more of an impact on the quality of the output of music to the computer.

    Just my 2 pennies.
  • Canon LIDE 20 (Score:4, Informative)

    by Blakey Rat (99501) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:26PM (#13521804)
    I'm happy with my LIDE 20 from Canon. It's not high-res, but it's teeny and powered from the USB cable so you can easily store it when you're not using it. It's also lasted a lot longer than the old scanner I had (a HP 3400 that died after only a year.)
    • Canon LIDE 30 (Score:5, Informative)

      by Chuckaluphagus (111487) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:43PM (#13521982)
      I have a Canon LiDE 30 that I picked up for work (scanning patent documents). It's light, quiet, cheap (cost me $70), relatively quick, and draws power over the USB connection so it uses only that one cable. I use it primarily for black-and-white and greyscale images, but it's done color very nicely as well.

      I believe the current model in this line is the LiDE 35, but all of the above should apply.
      • Re:Canon LIDE 30 (Score:3, Informative)

        by strredwolf (532)
        I second that. The LiDE 30's been very good for artwork, so light, and since it uses LED technology, draws little power (and thus only needs USB power).

  • Scanners (Score:2, Informative)

    by Chysn (898420)
    I bought a random $50 scanner at OfficeMax. I use it with Finale (quite possibly the same thing that your sister is using). Works swell. For OCR, you don't need to go nuts.
  • Canon (Score:4, Informative)

    by MaineCoon (12585) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:28PM (#13521826) Homepage
    I've never gone wrong with canon products - I often heavily researched which camera and which printer to get, and ended up getting Canon both times. When I wanted to get a scanner, I went straight to Canon, and have not been disappointed.

    Combining my US$100 Canon scanner (cant remember the specific model; think it was a 4200F) and my Canon Pixma iP5000 printer (US$200), I can copy printed material and get very good reproductions.

    If you want to go cheaper, they have a good selection of Photo scanners from $50 to $80.

    If you have one of a few supported Canon printer models, you can get a 'scanner' cartridge that turns your printer into a sheet-feed scanner.
    • Using a 4200F with a Pixma 4000. Used HP with blank-mark scanners, can't say I was too happy about them. Canon is the way to go (if you're not using Linux, ofcourse, there always is a negative catch).
  • Umax used to be some of the best scanners around.

    My last Umax scanner (with both USB & SCSI connections) was fantastic until XP came out. Then >boom, no free driver support. You can get a driver but it costs you $20 to order a CD from their website. No download version of it either.

    I still have the Umax scanner on a shelf,waiting for them to release a free driver, but I'd only buy HP at this point.
    • I've got an old Umax scanner sitting on a shelf, too. Problem is, it sits there until I need to scan something, then I GC until I have ~2 sq ft of desk space so I can set the damn thing up, then it just works. Since 90+% of my scanning is photos, it's overkill to have a full (legal!) page scanner, but the damn thing just won't die. Maybe I'll just have to get over this aversion to replacing non-broken stuff...
  • digital camera (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jeffrey Baker (6191) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:28PM (#13521831)
    If you have a digital camera, try that instead. Many digital cameras, even middle-of-the-line ones like a Powershot S400 or similar, are perfectly good replacements for document scanners, and normally much, much faster.
    • Tried it, but ... (Score:3, Informative)

      by ThreeDayMonk (673466)
      I've tried that in the past, on occasions when I haven't had immediate access to a scanner.

      It's a passable "poor-man's" solution: it works, but the image tends to be geometrically distorted, with colour fringing around letters. Lighting can be a bit tricky, too. (These problems can be fixed with the right equipment, but scanners are cheap; certainly cheaper than the requisite photographic equipment.)

      If you need a record in a hurry, it's an option. I'm not sure that the output would work well in most OCR
  • You will get better quality from CCD sensors than CMOS ones, all other things being equal.

    http://electronics.howstuffworks.com/question362.h tm [howstuffworks.com]
  • I have a friend who has a load of documents to scan and he wants to be able to feed them into a scanner and have them just go.

    I'd also like the ability to link an image of a bill to a line in Quicken or Money so I don' thave to store the original paper forever. Any ideas there?
  • Well I like (Score:5, Funny)

    by ellem (147712) <ellem52@gma[ ]com ['il.' in gap]> on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:30PM (#13521849) Homepage Journal
    the Radio Shack Pro-89.

    I can easily program all of my favorite drivers in in no time. But the Bearcats can be programmed for you at the track at the Race-Scan trucks.
  • Epson, Epson, Epson. Seriously, I have had amazing results with all of their scanners.

    They are TWAIN compatible, have excellent quality and good software (TWAIN driver interface is nice too). Plus, they have models that aren't too pricey.

    As a bonus, the 3170 I have (since disco'ed - but new ones are similar) actually do very well at scanning Negatives/Slides. I have a $2,500 dedicated slide scanner from some years back, and my Epson flatbed give me better quality - something I did NOT expect.

    Hope t

  • DPI ? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by bushboy (112290) <lttc@lefthandedmonkeys.org> on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:31PM (#13521857) Homepage
    Quote: <i> I know that DPI matters very little (just like it does in printers)-- it's quality that matters. </i>

    Well, you know wrong.

    DPI is to all intents and purposes, the same as "resolution" which is not something you do at New Years.

    If you want to scan something, the more of it's surface you can scan, the better.

    So yeah, I'd say it DOES matter.
    • Re:DPI ? (Score:2, Informative)

      by Excelcia (906188)
      The point is that any modern scanner will scan a higher resolution than you will ever need. Unless, of course, you want to scan a penny and blow the image up poster size. The original poster is saying that he understands this and is (IMO rightfully) less concerned than the numbers game that many scanner manufacturers have played in the past and more concerned with image fidelity and quality.
    • Re:DPI ? (Score:3, Informative)

      by moonbender (547943)
      The point is that there are some scanners with a relatively high resolution that give results worse than relatively low res scanners do. Also, stores often advertise resolutions attained through interpolation which is about as informative as a PMPO speaker rating. (But I guess that goes without saying on Slashdot.)
    • by thrill12 (711899) *
      Using an ordinary scanner, I scanned something in full colour, and compared that with the same (photograph) scanned in full color using the primary colors and combining those afterwards. I got very clear differences in the final scan when I combined the R+G+B channels with Photoshop to a full-color photo. The combined (3-pass) RGB channel scan produced at least 2 times more resolution than the (1-pass) full-color scan.

      If you want very good color reproductions, try it sometimes - could prove interest
    • Re:DPI ? (Score:2, Informative)

      by musicmaker (30469)
      Wow - the usual Slashdot STUPIDITY.

      Most scanners can scan at over 800 DPI, which is WAY higher than almost anybody needs for anything. 800DPI takes forever, and generates an enourmous image for an 8.5x11 sheet of paper (Think 60 Meg).
    • Re:DPI ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by thoromyr (673646) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:01PM (#13522138)
      Although DPI matters it isn't an over riding factor in quality. This is true for scanners, printers and digital cameras. Your assertion fails because you assume that all scanned/printed/imaged pixels are equal. They are not.

      A very good illustration of this is with color scanning. If you buy an expensive scanner its color accuracy should be quite good. If you buy a cheap scanner, not so much. Something that is common is getting dark blue for black.

      Ah! You say, if you *really* care about the color accuracy (and who does?) then you just "apply a filter" in Photoshop. Not so fast -- if black comes in as dark blue, the question is what does dark blue come in as? if it also comes in as dark blue you just lost information and it can't be recovered.

      Even if there is little information loss, "just" compressing of color space then it is something a bit beyond a simple filter. Color matching software is about the only way to deal with this problem, something Apple provides out of the box and is little used elsewhere.

      My first scanner was a UMAX 1200 and with a scan target and some software I was able to create a color match profile for that scanner. The improvement in scan quality was very significant.

      The short of it? It doesn't really matter if you scanner can go to 48000000 dpi if all of those "dots" are garbage. That's why getting a quality scanner is important. Scanning in a resolution higher than you will use is also a waste of time and storage, but that is another matter.

      For digital cameras you get the same issues as with scanners. Ooo! Its 500 Mega Pixels! Means absolutely nothing if the reds are washed out, the blacks are blue, etc.

      And printers are even more fun because people use different inks on different papers so color matching is even more hit and miss. But the original weakening of DPI as being useful to gauge printer output was when inkjet printer resolution started getting ramped up.

      The problem is that the printer could place, say, 720 dots in an inch, but each dot was maybe 1/72 inch across (from memory -- at this point I don't remember the actual size of a dot on the inkjets as I don't use them). So all you got out of the 720 DPI was overly wet paper. (Well, it also allowed some smoothing of diagonals, but considering the bleeding problem with inkjets that point is of questionable value.)

      Thoromyr
    • Re:DPI ? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by debest (471937) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:01PM (#13522143)
      The OP is correct: just like with digicams, it very often doesn't matter what the resolution is, the scanner needs to have good quality optics or it is shite.

      What would you rather have, a 300dpi scan that is crystal clear (if a bit jaggy under a magnifier), or a 1200dpi scan that renders its blurriness in incredible resolution, and at about 16x the file size?

      If your scanner doesn't have good glass under the hood, it makes no difference how fine the CCD/CMOS resolution is.
      • by Vellmont (569020) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:18PM (#13522243) Homepage
        If you know anything about scanners you'll know that part of it is just a big camera. The parent is obviously correct that the optics quality is very important. Just look at any cheap 35mm film camera compared to an expensive 35mm camera. They both have the same "resolution" because they can use the same film. The optics of the cheap camera are probbably crappy poorly "ground" plastic lenses, while the expensive camera likely has very high quality well ground glass (or whatever ueber-optics material they're using these days).
    • Re:DPI ? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by infochuck (468115) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:06PM (#13522172)
      Well, you know wrong.

      No, YOU know wrong. DPI doesn't matter for spit; any new scanner sold these days will use a greater resolution than most people will ever need. Just like all xMP digital cameras are not equal - the quality of the optics goes a long way toward determining final quality; I'd take a 3MP cam with Nikkor or Leica optics over some roody-poot 1000MP camera.

      Chances are, the 600 DPI Epson will produce better quality scans than that 3600 DPI (interpolated) from Brand J (for junk).

      Get a clue before you start correcting folks.

    • DPI is to all intents and purposes, the same as "resolution" which is not something you do at New Years.

      I think the article submitter knows what DPI means. But like him, I've heard that DPI is mostly a meaningless statistic touted by the scanner makers. This is especially true if the scanner is going to only be used for OCR of music, where beyond a certain resolution more DPI is useless.

      There is more to scanners than DPI obviously. In inkjet printers you get bleed, and other effects from one dot to anoth
    • Re:DPI ? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by babyrat (314371)
      I think the original poster is implying that most scanners have >600dpi resolution which for text and normal photographs is plenty - most colour prints are 300dpi and in general scanning at a higher DPI setting than that is a waste of time and disk space.

      Also a high quality 1200 dpi scanner can in fact create better scans than a low quality 2400dpi scanner.

      There are special cases where huge DPI is necessary (scanning negatives for example) but for sheet music and normal photos, I'm not sure you could ev
  • Basic information (Score:3, Informative)

    by Red Flayer (890720) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:31PM (#13521862) Journal
    I don't know anything about current models, and largely it will depend upon your sister's needs, budget, and limitations.

    Here are a couple of sites to get you started: http://www.viewz.com/shoppingguide/scanner.shtml [viewz.com] (not my favorite, but it's alright as far as learning the very basics. You just have to realize the site is aimed towards mom-and-pop).

    here's the wikipedia entry:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image_scanner [wikipedia.org]

    Not any info on specific scanners in either of these, but should be a good jumping-off point to understanding the benchmarks.
  • HP ScanJet 4600 (Score:3, Informative)

    by YrWrstNtmr (564987) on Friday September 09, 2005 @04:31PM (#13521866)
    I recently got one of these [tomshardware.com] for about $35 at OfficeMax.

    See thru top, small, light, cheap, reasonable quality. One of the cool things is you can scan 'anything'. If needed, you can flip it over or lift it up and scan the side of your face. Or any other 3D object.
    Labels for the front edge buttons are printed on both faces of the lid.

    • It scans directly to printer (with the PC in the middle), effectively making it a single sheet copier. Supposedly does the same to fax, although I have not tried it this.
  • What I'd like to find is a scanner that will do 8.5x14" paper. They could be found back before the scanner wars, when they were all SCSI and cost $1200 and up.

    I haven't seen one in years. My company once had a very pricy HP scanner that had a document feeder. Even that one wouldn't scan 14" paper. It only got the first 12" or so and tried to do the rest as a separate sheet.
  • I haven't kept up with the "state of the art" scanners. I still have a pretty old AGFA SNAPSCAN TOUCH scanner that I really need to replace.

    So what I need is something with larger dimensions, because I have a lot of artwork that is bigger than a regular sheet of paper. I wonder if there's a good set of "oversized" scanners that are not too expensive to buy ...
  • One thing to consider if you want to scan pages from books is depth of field. With cheaper scanners anything that's not touching the glass will be out of focus, including text close to the crease of the book.

    One non-obvious place to read about scanners is the forum at http://www.pgdp.org/ [pgdp.org] (distributed proofreading for project Gutenberg).

  • I've had my Canon CanoScan N650U for a few years now, and have had exactly zero problems with it. Plug in the USB cable, install the software, push the button on the front, and Photoshop pops up with the scan dialog. Works great with xsane too.

    They're a little older, so you can probably pick one up for like $20 now.
  • However, the software she wishes to use it with (some funkadelic 'music OCR' thing that lets you scan sheet music and transforms it automagically into MIDI files)

    I'm a pianist, and I've tried using several different "Music OCR" things. None of them work well enough to save any time. It's always faster to just sightread the music while playing on a MIDI keyboard.

    Maybe sis should spend less time playing on her computer and more time practicing her sight reading!

  • Dear Ask Slashdot, I have a report for school. Where can I find pictures of dinosaurs?
  • I picked up one of HP's multifunction PSC1315 print/scan/fax jobs (USB). Running FC3, the scanner Just Worked. Without doing anything beyond plugging it in and turning it on, it showed up in Gimp's acquire/scan dialog and successfully scanned images.

    Can't speak about the quality, though. I don't really have any references. But it is nice to be able to copy stuff w/o running to the copy shop. And all in the same space as my previous HP inkjet.

    The print function wasn't quite as easy to set up. There was
  • Has anyone had good luck with scanning slightly larger things at Kinko's or whatever? I have a few oversized jazz band photos that I think are just a tad bigger than my 8.5*11 oriented flatbed can handle, and I'd rather not do it in sections and hope it comes together...any specific chain (or single place in the burbs of Boston) people would suggest?
  • Does anyone make a scanner yet that allows you to put a stack of pictures in it and have the scanner automatically scan the pictures one at a time and save them in a directory?

    That's the feature I'm looking for. I've got a bunch of old pictures that I'd like to share online, but I don't want to have to scan them one at a time.
  • "the software she wishes to use it with .... claims that it doesn't work too well with HP scanners"

    So what does the software vendor recommend? Seems simple enough to ask them?
  • I had one of these puppies [amazon.com] and although it looked cool, and was very space efficient, it did a lousy and slow job of actually scanning documents. Stay away.
  • Scanner technology is one of those slow moving ones. I bought my first Microteck sometime circa 1994 or so, spent a good deal on it. The ONLY reason I stopped using it was the fact that they never made win95 drivers for it. I was lucky enough to have some beta drivers, but it was a flacky piece of filth that only I could use.

    The only reason I would have otherwise to upgrade would be speed. My first scanner was a tripple pass model and newer models were single pass. Models after that increased in terms
  • Canon LIDE (Score:2, Informative)

    by vasqzr (619165)
    http://www.usa.canon.com/html/conCprProductDetail. jsp?modelid=6623&item=6633&section=10217? [canon.com]

    $49.99

    USB+power in one cable

    Pretty good quality. Very small size.
  • Canon LiDE (Score:3, Interesting)

    by dieman (4814) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:01PM (#13522135) Homepage
    Yeah, they don't work with linux, but the Windows support is good and its powered off of USB.

    I've also had them make copies of photos that had supposed 'protection' against copying (ie: watermark that would show up when scanned). Never saw the watermark, must be that the led-based tech in the canon product foils that method. :)
  • Canon LiDE 60 (Score:2, Interesting)

    by HokieVT (859712)
    FWIW I recently purchased a Canon LiDE 60. It's affordable and works great. It's powered by USB so there's no need for yet another power brick and it's also able to sit vertically and take up a ton less desk space.
  • by Phil John (576633) <phil@NOspAM.webstarsltd.com> on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:15PM (#13522225)

    I've used it before with the package that comes with sibelius and it works a treat.

    It's also a damn fine film scanner for doing hobby stuff (it's got FARE level 2 which will do some pretty impressive retouching to remove scratches and particles)

  • by FredThompson (183335) <fredthompson AT mindspring DOT com> on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:16PM (#13522232)
    You will find good reviews of imaging hardware at http://www.steves-digicams.com/ [steves-digicams.com]

    I've personally used Apple, HP, Epson, Memorex (Artec), Microtek and Canon scanners. My personal scanner is a Canon CanoScan 8400F. There's probably a newer version.

    The bundled software with this Canon does a wonderful job of descreening halftone images.

    Last Christmas I gave my sister an Epson Perfection 2480 which included a partial-page feeder (business cards, checks, snapshots). The descreening on this one isn't as good and I wasn't able to associate the scanned images to Paint Shop Pro properly. However, the software does allow scanning multiple pages in a queue with a minimum of button clicks. Unless your sister is scanning single-page sheet music, she'll probably really benefit from this ability.

    I don't know of any consumer-level sheet feeders. By that, I mean a scanner which retails for $100 or so won't have a sheet feeder option or accessory.

    Another thing to consider is that scanners with their own power supply will yield higher contrast and brighter colors during the scan.

    You should also look at the color of the pad on the underside of the cover. My Canon has a white cover. Yuck!! How Stupid!! Bright light will pass through paper which is being scanned and reflect back to the light sensors. It's far better to have a black pad so a ghost image of the opposite side of the paper is not detected. I have a full-sized hardcover book with a flat black cover which I use to block reflection and hold paper flat. Black construction paper won't work. The scanner's likght will bleach the paper.

    A white pad does have some advantages but, in my opinion and experience, a black pad is far more useful.
  • Epson Scanners (Score:3, Informative)

    by Enrique1218 (603187) on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:17PM (#13522237) Journal
    I prefer epson scanners especially for the Mac. HP has bloated unreliable software. I don't particularly like HP running in the background at start has they insist on doing. Epson has simple easy to use software that runs only when want it. It auto-identifies the document and it provides indexing for multiple scans so you only have to enter a filename once.
  • by Ankh (19084) * on Friday September 09, 2005 @05:26PM (#13522311) Homepage
    For my collection of images scanned from antiquarian books [fromoldbooks.org] I am now using an Epson E10000 3200dpi scanner that does A3+ (18"x12" roughly) and am very happy with it. I generally scan in Windows because the Linux Sane interface doesn't know how to focus the lens.

    For your little sister you might want something rugged, depending on how little she is :-) For sheet music, though, larger than letter size is worth considering: there are several A3/tabloid scanners around. You will need at least 300dpi (native, not interpolated) for OCR, and possibly higher.

    A USB interface is the simplest, although if you have firewire on your computer that may be faster.

    For graphic art work you need to be able to do colour calibration. For OCR, you probably will use grayscale most of the time. You can get some good solid greyscale sheet-fed scanners on ebay pretty cheaply, although make sure they're in your area: I wouldn't trust the shipping.

    As others have said, look for TWAIN, and for scanners that work on multiple operating systems.

    If you do a lot of scanning you'll need extra hard disk storage and a way to back it up, such as a DVD writer or a tape drive.

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