- ✓easy to use;
- ✓built-in transparency backlight;
- ✓supports USB 2.0.
- ✕Bright colours lack saturation.
In Epson's new scanner line-up, the reasonably priced Perfection 2400 Photo strikes a comfortable balance between the entry-level Perfection 1660 Photo and the professional-level Perfection 2450 Photo. Its improved design and interface make it almost as easy to capture transparencies as to capture opaque documents; in addition, its USB 2.0 interface boosts performance noticeably. But some quirks in its capture quality may disappoint hard-core photo enthusiasts.
The £169.36 (ex. VAT) Perfection 2400 Photo is easy to set up. The illustrated Start Here poster provides clear instructions on installing the scanner and covers basic operation. The Perfection 2400 Photo works with Windows 98, 2000, Me and XP, as well as Mac OS 8.x to 9.x. Epson uses the faster USB 2.0 interface on all its new scanner range, and even includes a cable in the box. If you don't have a USB 2.0 port in your machine this isn't a problem, since USB 2.0 devices are backward compatible with USB 1.1 -- you just won't get the higher transfer rate. An online reference guide covers the scanner in more depth and includes a basic troubleshooting and maintenance section. Epson also bundles Adobe's Photoshop Elements on a second CD to lead you through the most common image-editing tasks.
As with previous Epson scanners, the Perfection 2400 Photo has a simple mechanical design. After unplugging the scanner's backlight, you can raise the lid on its hinges or remove it completely to accommodate thick documents. Because switching between opaque and transparent media can be a pain, Epson also improved the lid design. The backlight cover now slips into two grooves on the lid and snaps into place, simplifying the process considerably. The four buttons on the front of the scanner let you launch Epson's Smart Panel software, or you can scan an image and send it to your printer, your email application or Epson's photo-sharing Web site.
Epson's redesigned Smart Panel software also offers a few enhancements. The program displays more buttons for launching specific tasks; for example, it now can scan to a handheld, convert captures to Adobe Acrobat (PDF) format or invoke Epson's colour-matching algorithms with a single click. You can also switch to manual mode and modify the exposure and gamma; set the highlight and shadow thresholds; or adjust the red, green and blue channels individually.
In ZDNet Labs' speed tests, the Perfection 2400 Photo performed exceedingly well. It scanned a full-page colour image in 14.4 seconds and greyscale images in 12.4 seconds, taking its place as one of the fastest models we've tested. Colour slide and negative scans also were fast, at 24.3 seconds and 52 seconds, respectively. We tested with the scanner connected to a USB 1.1 ports; if you have a USB 2.0 controller in your PC, you may see slightly faster scan times, but bear in mind that the data transfer rate may not be the limiting factor.
The scanner's output quality was not as consistently good as its speed. The Perfection 2400 Photo captured lines and curves without distortion, and it even picked up subtle details in the dark areas of our test document. But reds and oranges consistently lacked saturation, whereas white areas took on a greyish cast. Earthier colours such as greens and flesh tones looked more realistic. When scanning transparencies, the Perfection 2400 Photo split the difference: colour slides looked excellent with sharp details, but colour negatives looked merely fair. Although most users will find the Perfection 2400 Photo more than adequate, those with a real photographic eye may want to step up to the Perfection 2450 Photo.
The Perfection 2400 Photo is a good scanner for anyone with a mix of opaque and transparent documents to scan. It offers fast speeds, above-average output and improved ease of use.