- USB and twin-SCSI interfaces;
- built-in transparency adapter;
- large scanning area.
- Bulky and quite heavy;
- scanning software could be easier to use.
Microtek manufactures a wide range of scanners, at prices from under £100 to well into the thousands. The £200 (ex. VAT) ScanMaker X12USL sits at the lower end, but is aimed at business users requiring simple image scans and OCR functionality.
The most immediately noticeable aspect of this scanner is its length. Its bed is 356mm long -- enough to accommodate US Legal-sized paper. In the Pro version of the ScanMaker X12USL, reviewed here, a transparency adapter is built into the lid, so it can cope with photographic originals as well as printed ones. There's a one-touch scan button at the front of the unit (alongside a power button), which calls up Microtek's ScanWizard 5 scanning software.
ScanWizard is a dual-view application, which you can use in its simple mode with automatic settings for all the major parameters. If you prefer to take more control, the Advanced view exposes much more functionality. However, it uses a slightly fiddly four-window display rather than integrating everything into a single pane. We also found it difficult to select a scanning area of 8.5 by 11 inches, which is required for one of our speed tests. The control is hidden away in one of the Advanced view menu options.
Unusually for a scanner, there are three sockets at the back for connection to your PC. The ubiquitous USB connection is there, but there are also twin SCSI inputs, so you can connect the device to two computers at once. This may be a useful bonus if you're buying the scanner for use in a small workgroup.
Scanning times are reasonable in both USB and SCSI modes, our test documents taking around 20 seconds on USB and 15 seconds on SCSI. Scan quality is generally good, although our line-art accuracy tests revealed significant noise from the scanner's optics. Colour reproduction is much better, with natural flesh tones and well-balanced vivid colours that were acceptably close to their originals.
Microtek's X12USL is a good choice if you need to scan long documents - Legal or foolscap - or want to connect to two different computers at once. The price includes a SCSI controller, so you could, for example, connect the device to a PC and an older Macintosh at the same time. The price is good for such a flexible device.