- Fast IEEE 1394 connection;
- glassless transparency scanning.
- Bulky and expensive.
Microtek's ScanMaker 8700 is designed to handle high-volume, high-bandwidth scanning requirements, thanks to its fast 400Mbit/s IEEE 1394 (FireWire) interface. This 1,200 by 2,400dpi, 42-bit A4 scanner provides transparency scanning as well as paper documents. It's large for an A4 unit due to the space needed for the transparency trays, and is a significant investment at £680 (ex. VAT, or £799 inc. VAT).
The ScanMaker 8700 has both USB and IEEE 1394 interfaces, but an IEEE 1394 adapter card is supplied with the unit, so unless you don't have any PCI slots free, you can use the faster connection method. Note that the adapter currently only works with Windows 98 SE, ME and Windows 2000. Microtek is keen to emphasise the speed of the IEEE 1394 interface (400Mbit/s), and makes claims as to how much this speeds up the scanning process. Of course, FireWire can only accelerate data transfer between the scanner and your PC, so although you may receive the end results somewhat faster, you're not going to see vast improvements in overall scan time, especially when using higher resolutions.
This is a CCD-based scanner, which accounts for some of the unit's 15.8cm height. It also means that you can scan three-dimensional objects with some success -- something that's not possible with cheaper contact image sensor-based scanners. To assist with this and the scanning of thick books, the ScanMaker 8700's lid features a hinge that allows it to lift up to two centimetres from the scanner base, and can detach completely if necessary.
Several transparency trays are provided with the ScanMaker 8700, which allow the scanning of slides and negatives. The use of trays to hold transparencies means that there's no glass present between the scanning element and the film where dust could gather. The trays can hold 35mm film strips, mounted 35mm slides and 4 by 5in. transparencies. The trays slot into the front of the unit, and scanning proceeds as normal.
Microtek ScanWizard is supplied, which provides standalone and TWAIN-compliant scanning capabilities. This is a simple-to-use application that provides limited image adjustment, and can save images in a number of formats.
If you want more control over scanning photos, an extra £100 (inc. VAT) buys you LaserSoft's SilverFast software. This high-end scanning module is available both as a TWAIN plug-in and a native Photoshop plug-in. Silverfast provides very precise control over your scans, including colour correction.
Adobe Photoshop LE is supplied with the ScanMaker 8700, allowing you to edit the images you've scanned. You can use ScanWizard or SilverFast with Photoshop LE, depending on the option you've bought.
A limited OCR (Optical Character Recognition) package called ABBYY FineReader Sprint is supplied with the ScanMaker 8700. This provides basic scanning and character recognition, and can save the scanned documents as text or rich text format (RTF) files. It doesn't provide any advanced features such as column recognition or suspect word detection, so if you want to do anything other than trivial OCR, you'll have to buy more capable package like TextBridge or OmniPage.
This isn't a cheap scanner, and the faster interface isn't necessarily going to make a vast difference to your overall productivity, so think carefully buying the ScanMaker 8700. If you're prepared too pay the price, you get a very well-featured scanner that performs admirably.
|Dimensions (W x H x D)||38.7 x 16 x 56.6 cm|
|Lamp/light source type||cold cathode lamp|
|Scan element type||tri-linear CCD|
|Maximum colour depth||42 bits|
|Scanning software||Microtek ScanWizard, Lasersoft SliverFast (optional)|
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