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The Microtek 4600 USB Scanner & Camera

Introduction

Microtek is a company with a daring marketing department. The last time I reviewed a Microtek product, it was the unusual V6USL SCSI/USB scanner. A unit that boasted dual interfaces, 11x14 capability and negative image capture via a light bar. Now, remaining consistent with that type of strategy, the 4600 USB + camera package arrives.

Inside the box is a standard USB letter size scanner and a small, web quality USB digital camera. In a day when 600x1200 dpi models sell for well under the $100 mark, can a mid priced, 1200x2400 dpi product be worth more than $150? The bottom line was that the 4600 took top marks easily besting my aging favorite, the Visioneer 7600 USB.

Factory Specifications
The Unit
  • Scans up to 8.5" x 11.7"
  • USB Scanner & Camera
  • 1200dpi x 2400dpi Hardware Resolution
  • 9600dpi x 9600dpi Software Interpolated Resolution
  • 352x288 Max Camera Resolution
  • 42-Bit Color Depth
  • All Accessories Included
  • One Year Warranty
  • List Price: $179.99 USD

Microtek

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8/10 Rating

Description & Specifications

Two years ago, 1200x2400 dpi might nab in excess of $300. Now, 600x1200 scanners can be had for well under a C note and models one notch up can be purchased for under the $200 mark. So how did Microtek add value to their contender, the 4600? Why, they threw in a popular new entry--an inexpensive no frills digital camera.

This type of camera is so new and different that I want to tackle it first. When many $1000+ units brag about resolution beyond the 2 Megapixel range, this web quality image grabber can only muster 352x288 pixels. That's just over 100 Kilopixel area. The MN100 doesn't have a focus. At a retail value of 20 bucks, this is the very same camera that small children or accident prone individuals can use without fear or retribution if something awful happens to it.

Ever misplaced an expensive item, such as a digital camera? There goes a grand. Lose the MN100 or accidentally sit on it and it's no big deal. Just throw it away. I teach at a small college in central Ohio where students can be very hard on gear, so when my department thought about buying a $500 digital camera we had to stop and think: what happens when it gets damaged? Since expensive cameras usually cost more to fix than their worth, we though all hope was lost until the folks at Single Source Marketing notified me of this incredible deal. It's a great multimedia and great learning package.

The previous Microtek V6USL has me a bit apprehensive though. Plagued with a no-better-than-average picture and many obnoxious noises emanating from then flat box, I pondered if the 4600 was going to be a repeat review. It wasn't for the most part. This is the first scanner I've tested that breaks the 600x1200 dpi hardware barrier as well. The USB only unit resolves all the way to 1200x2400 dpi hardware and 9600x9600 software interpolation. Color rendering is beyond any high end video card at 42 bits.

The 42-bit color depth needs some verbiage however. I'm willing to concede that there is quite a difference between 16-bit and 32-bit color as it is particularly noticeable when playing Unreal Tournament. BUT, when viewing 16-bit scans of human faces, there is not much improvement jumping to 24-bit "true" color. After researching color depths, it appears that most human eyeballs can distinguish 24-bit color, but only an excruciatingly small percentage of those can see any appreciable difference between 24 and 32-bit color. I've found no tests that confirm any detectable differences above 32-bit color. What this means to the consumer is that you shouldn't be taken in by such ideas that a 36 or 42-bit scanner will make any difference whatsoever. Here's a table denoting the various color depths and exact number of colors.

1-bit
4-bit
8-bit
16-bit
24-bit
32-bit
36-bit
42-bit
B&W
16
256
65,536
16.7M
4.3B
68.7B
4398B

B&W means black and white (no color), the M denotes Million, and the B denotes Billion.

 





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