Apologies for the disingenuous title of this opinion but I wanted something that was eye-catching in order to court interest. When I first started looking for a new scanner, it was because I had previously purchased several film scanners and was not happy with any of them, and found that the manufacturers exaggerated many of their features. I am very choosy about the quality of the scans, particularly for photo reproduction. I am a keen photographer, and look for the highest quality when I scan a photo, or anything for that matter. After researching several scanners, I chose the Epson Perfection 1640 Photo because of its promise of professional looking photo scans, and the ability to also scan film (negatives and slides). This is definitely a feature that should not be overlooked. The quality of the film scans is incredible. Believe me I've seen film scans from some high quality (and very expensive!) film scanners, and they do not even come close. For those of you who are interested, I have compared this Epson scanner to the Minolta Dimage Scan Dual II, the Canon Canoscan FS2710, and the Nikon LS2000, all of which are much more expensive and supposedly higher quality and they are not in the same street. Besides the great film scans, the scanner also produces great quality copies of photos, documents and everything else that you can think of to scan. It sets up very easily, and did not give me any conflicts during the installation. I also recently installed it on Windows XP which I just bought, and it installed like a dream. I fully expected to have numerous conflicts, but Windows set it up perfectly. The manuals that come with the scanner are OK. They don't go into much detail, but they certainly give you enough information to set up the scanner and learn how to use the software. This leads to the only weakness I have been able to find...the software. It has a lot of different options which are great and lets you
adjust just about anything, but every time you scan something, it remembers your settings from the last time you used it, and attempts to use them for your next scan. This is extremely annoying because it is normal to want to change the settings from scan to scan and you have to cancel it each time. I found it much easier to use the import function in one of my favourite photo editing software programs (Adobe Photoshop) and most of the software issues went away. I would definitely not let this deter you from buying the unit itself, but it is an improvement that Epson needs to make. Another issue that I should note is that although the scanner allows interpolated scans in excess of 12800dpi, good luck getting your computer to process something that high in resolution. I have a Pentium II 366 MHZ machine, and I found that it struggled with scans greater than 1200dpi. I realise my computer is relatively old, but it's not a complete dinosaur and it still had trouble. As for the rest of my experience with the scanner, I cannot complain at all. It is the best scanner I have ever used, and once again, Epson lives up to its reputation as a leader in imaging products.
::Features:: Film adapter included for scanning negatives and slides High Quality 1600x3200 dpi Optical Resolution with low noise CCD 42bit In/Out scanning capability for excellent colour reproduction Hybrid Interface: Ultra High Speed with SCSI Easy Plug 'n Play with USB Interface Easy to Use EPSON Smart Panel enables scanning to e-mail, OCR and Photo editing applications with just a few clicks Start Button for easy one touch scanning Easy and Intelligent EPSON TWAIN Software: Full Auto Mode removes complex set up procedures and enables automatic scanning suitable Ultra fast scanning - a leader in its class Maximum interpolated resolution 12800dpi Low noise CCD composed of 40800 pixels per line The Perfection 1640SU Photo supplied as standard with a 4x5" Transparency unit and slide holders is superb for amateur and professional photographers alike who need to scan negatives and transparencies. Im not a professional photographer but I do class it as one of my main hobbies. I found buying this scanner an excellent way of saving money (ie. not having to pay for two separate scanners that did separate jobs) aswell as the amount of desk space that I saved - desk space is very important to me as i have little! I found the scanner to be fast and produced very good quality scans, especially with negatives. It should be noted that I got a lots of software included with the scanner that has made my life much easier, including Adobe PhotoShop LE 5.0, Abobe PhotoDeluxe, high level OCR editing with Textbridge Pro, and the EPSON Smart Panel for scanners - enabling the Start button to be customised to user requirements. The only slight problem I can find is my screen image isn't quite the same as the printed version. If you love photography and dont already have a scanner then this may be the one for you.
I fought against getting my own scanner for ages. After all, nobody minds me using the scanner at work and it seemed good enough going into the open plan office next door for my very low volume scanning. But it was usually annoying. As soon as I began to scan in my holiday photos, someone would always walk past me, glance at the screen and start commenting on what I was doing. Fine for the holiday photos perhaps, but not so good when it was a drawing or something more personal (see my other opinion on drawing). So I gave in at Easter and acquired an Epson Perfection. The Epson Perfection scanner does everything a scanner should do and does it in a straightforward and efficient way. I can’t see why any non-professional user would have any requirements beyond those the Epson provides. Lets face it, most of us are not too demanding of scanning, the main use being to put photographs online so you can share them with friends and relatives by email or a website. In fact, the Epson is capable of being used for far more demanding applications than that and when I’d got my own scanner I began to see its potential. I chose the Epson because I like their products generally. Because they’re not first position in sales of printers etc, they have to try harder. With the Perfection as with their printers, there’s every evidence that they do so (by the way, did you know that they’re the IT wing of the Seiko watch company?). Lets get some technical stuff out of the way, so skip this paragraph if you want. The scanners got 1600x3200 dots per inch optical resolution with low noise and 42 bit In/Out scanning capability for excellent colour reproduction. Its got a hybrid interface including ultra fast scans with SCSI, and Easy Plug 'n Play with USB Interface. What this means in fact is that its dead easy to install and you could use it with a SCSI card in your PC if you want lightning fast scanning. Frankly,
I found the USB interface pretty quick. The Perfection is very easy to install use. It connect via a USB port to the computer, and this allows it to have “one touch scanning”. In other words you place your document on the scanner, press the button and your PC fires up the Epson Smart Panel which lets you decide what to do. Smart Panel lets you scan to email, to a photo printer, to an application like Photoshop or the Adobe software you get with the scanner, to an OCR program (Textbridge comes with the scanner), or to a printer so you can use your scanner as a photocopier. You select your chosen option and you’re off. Its very quick and does what its supposed to do with no fuss. Fine, it’s a scanner and it scans! But it’s the choice of bundles software which makes it such a good package. Adobe Activeshare is a very clever program, not least in containing such powerful applications in such an easy to use and attractive presentation. Its organised in gallery style. You store photos in groups like albums and automatically shows you thumbnail copies which expand to normal size when you click on them. You can zoom in and out on the photo, add titles and text and all manner of documentation to them. There are simple to use correction facilities like red-eye, trim, rotate etc and you can also produce other documents from them like Windows wallpaper or slide shows. It’s a cut down version of Photo deluxe of course and if you try to go beyond the basics it pops up adverts for the full version. But for free, its pretty good and does as much as most users would want to do. Scansoft’s Textbridge Pro was the biggest surprise to me. I thought there’d be an OCR program with the scanner but didn’t know how good it would be. For readers who don’t know what OCR is, it stands for Optical Character Recognition and what it does is take a scanned image containing text and presents i
t to you as text so you can edit and save it. Textbridge is little short of amazing. For one thing it integrates with Word and many other word processing programs so that when you OCR a document it loads it into Word, but with all the formatting preserved. For example I scanned a solicitor’s letter and it fired up Word and there the document was with the right fonts, colours and styles. Amazing. It will cope with columns and other page layouts too. And it was 100% word-perfect too. OCR has moved on a long way since I last tried it. All the software in the bundle comes with full documentation on disk, and accessible through help files. The Textbridge wizard is very good and is close to intuitive in use. Personally I use Paintshop Pro for manipulating images and its easy to configure the Epson Smart panel software to send images to this program or any other you choose to use. I think how I’d summarise this opinion is to say that the Perfection does everything it should, and very well, but the bundled software makes it an exceptionally good piece of kit. I really can’t see why I’d want any other scanner and would recommend it fully to anyone who wanted a scanner for home of small office use. ----Stop press----: 23/5/01 The July 2001 edition of PC Magazine has made this scanner the editors choice. See www.pcmag.co.uk