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Epson Perfection V300 Reviews

High Technology Product Reviews | Trends and News | Epson Perfection V300 Reviews
Scanner technology tends to improve over time, benefiting consumers mostly through lowering the cost for a given level of capability. The Epson Perfection V300 Photo scanner ($99.99 direct, which includes a one-year parts-and-labor warranty) is a case in point. Coming a year after the now discontinued V350 Photo scanner, it is $50 cheaper and can run rings around the V350 in performance, particularly for scanning transparencies—both slides and strips of film. It's also comparable with, yet cheaper than, the Canon CanoScan 5600F, which is enough to warrant having the V300 replace the 5600F as Editors' Choice.

Specifications
Maximum Optical Resolution
4800 pixels
Mechanical Resolution
9600 pixels
Maximum Scan Area
Letter
Scanning Options
Reflective, Transparency
Flatbed
Yes
You won't find many differences in basics between the V300 and 5600F, but the few that exist are in the V300's favor. Both offer 4,800-pixel-per-inch (ppi) optical resolution; both have transparency scanning limits of only four slides or one six-frame strip of film at a time; and both use LEDs as their light source for reflective scans, essentially eliminating warm-up time and yielding consistent speeds from one scan to the next. Only the V300, however, uses LEDs for scanning transparencies; the 5600F relies on a traditional light source, a cold-cathode fluorescent lamp. Note that if you don't need transparency scanning, Epson also sells the V30 ($79.99 direct), which Epson says is the identical scanner minus the transparency adapter.

As with the 5600F, setting up the V300 is standard fare. Simply install the software and then plug in the power cord and supplied USB cable. I tested the scanner using Windows Vista, but according to Epson, it also comes with drivers and a full set of programs for Windows 2000 Professional, XP, XP x64, and Mac OS 10.3.9 and later. Bundled software for Windows includes Epson's own scan utility, ArcSoft MediaImpression 6 for managing and editing photos, Abbyy FineReader 6.0 Sprint Plus for recognizing text, and both Twain and WIA drivers to let you scan directly from most Windows programs with a scan command.

As with most scanners today, you can start a scan by calling up the scan utility—either directly or with the scan command in a program, or by using a button on the device. The V300 has four buttons: One simply brings up the scan utility, the other three are for copy, e-mail, and save to PDF. Pressing the copy button brings up a copy utility that lets you set options like number of copies and type of document before sending the scan to your printer, and the e-mail button launches an e-mail message on your PC and adds the scanned document as an attachment. The Send to a PDF file command is set by default to recognize the text first and save to searchable PDF format.

One particularly nice touch is that you can easily scan multiple pages to a PDF file. After scanning each page, you can either choose a button on-screen or press the one on the scanner to scan another page, or choose the PDF button again to end the scan. This obviously doesn't make scanning multipage documents as easy as with an automatic document feeder (ADF), but it's as easy as it can be without one.

Epson has done an excellent job of giving users the choice between ease of use and control over scanning. The Twain driver installs in Full Auto Mode. Simply hit a scan button and the driver will run a prescan, analyze what it sees, choose appropriate settings, and then scan. At the other extreme, the Professional Mode gives you full manual control over such sophisticated settings as color correction and tonal balance. In between, the Home Mode and Office Mode let you control some key settings without being overwhelmed by the choices.

Not so incidentally, the Full Auto Mode does a good enough job on prints and transparencies that casual users will likely be more than happy with the results. On the other hand, there are at least three features worth exploring that you find only in the Home and Professional modes. Color restore brings back color to faded photos; dust removal digitally removes dust specks from images; and backlight correction automatically brings out details in the foreground of a picture with a bright background—like a photo of a face against a bright sky. All three features are simple to use and are reasonably effective.

The V300's scan quality is surprisingly good for the price. Prints that I scanned and then printed out on an Epson PictureMate printer were only slightly inferior to the originals, losing a touch of detail in bright areas, like the white-on-white patterns in a bridal gown. On the other hand, they also brought out detail in dark areas better than the originals, clearly showing the two shades of black in the father-of-the-bride's tuxedo—a detail that most scanners would miss. Photos printed from slides and film showed no serious flaws.

The scanner also scored fairly well on speed, with a consistent 27.8 to 31.9 seconds for pre-scanning and scanning 4-by-6 photos at 300 and 400 pixels per inch (ppi)—a respectable speed even for a more expensive scanner. For slides, prescanning the entire flatbed took roughly 22 seconds, and scanning at 2,400 ppi took about 47 seconds. As of a point of comparison, the CanoScan 5600F took 2 minutes 3 seconds for slide scans.

The lack of an ADF on the V300 limits its usefulness for document management and text recognition. Even so, the ability to scan multipage documents with relative ease gives it some credibility for light-duty document management. In addition, it scored well on accuracy for optical character recognition on my tests, reading Times New Roman text at sizes as small as 8 points and Arial at sizes as small as 6 points without a mistake. I wouldn't use it for large documents, but it can certainly handle occasional text recognition for one- or two-page documents.

All told, the Epson Perfection V300 Photo offers a lot to like—high-quality scans for both prints and transparencies, as much or as little manual control over the scan as you like, reasonably fast speed, and a capability for light-duty optical character recognition and document management applications. That's an impressive collection of features for the price, and more than enough to make the V300 an Editors' Choice.

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