The Microtek 4600 USB Scanner & Camera
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.
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.
- Scans up
to 8.5" x 11.7"
- USB Scanner
- 1200dpi x
2400dpi Hardware Resolution
- 9600dpi x
9600dpi Software Interpolated Resolution
- 352x288 Max
- 42-Bit Color
- All Accessories
- One Year
- List Price:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
B&W means black and
white (no color), the M denotes Million, and the B denotes Billion.