Scan The Difference With The Visioneer 7600 USB Scanner
Visioneer- what a great name. Kinda implies vision,
which can be tied to scanning, right? I mean, what does AGFA imply? Even though
this model has been out for over a year, it still manages to satisfy my speed
and quality needs. No lousy SCSI interface here, we use USB! Parallel port?
You must be joking; serious scanning requires
bandwidth brudda, so throw those old parallel ports out, now!|
A Serious Scanner For Serious Scanners
How do you know that youíre a serious scanner?
You want at least 600x1200-dpi resolution in hardware mode (not software interpolation)
and you donít want to wait all day for it. Good, no, great quality is a must
and, of course, you own a PC with USB ports. Unless recovering from system
crashes and lockups are you forteí, I suggest having at least 128MB of RAM,
used the 7600 with 64, 128 and 256MB RAM configs and let me pass on that if
600x1200 24-bit color 8.5"x11" scans are your norm, grab at least
256MB.Why do you need all that RAM? Because
this jewel screams speedwise. Turn on system monitoring (Start>Programs>Accessories>System
Tools>System Monitoring) and look at the memory manager: unused physical
memory. In Windows 98, which you need for this scanner, watch the amount drop
to near zero when processing your favorite pics. Yeah, before all you nut
jobs start holleriní that your swapfile can be virtual RAM, consider this:
Do you want 800MB/s or 15MB/s processing speed? Itís simply annoying to click
"acquire image" and then run off to lunchÖ
Setup And Installation
Because I tested the USB model, you could simply pop the cable into your case,
but hold on, Visioneer likes a slightly altered method. First, upack everything
and find an area that can accommodate the 7600ís footprint while still being
close enough for the enclosed 6 foot USB cable to reach your box (or, buy
a longer cable). Next, plug in the wall wart and then plug the wider, retangular
end of the USB cable into your computerís USB port. Hold off on cramming the
other end into the rear of the scanner.
With your machine up and runniní, put the CD-ROM
into your drive and setup should automoatically start if "auto insert
notification" is enabled on that particular drive. About midway
through the installation, Visioneer will prompt you to connect the scanner.
Shortly thereafter, installation finsishes and you are ready to go. A note
to Windows 98SE owners: Visioneerís software doesnít have an installation
patch for 98SE yet, so you will receive a message that says youíre
not running a compatible operating system and do you want to continue. This
freaked me out at first, but then I simply ignored the warning, told setup
to continue, and the software and drivers installed normally. I have encountered
zero problems since I upgraded to SE three months ago. Still, Visioneer should
have a patch for this install "bug."
Drivers, drivers, drivers. Fully three sets of
device drivers are mandatory if you have any hope of producing accurate scans.
In addition to the scanner drivers, current monitor drivers and printer drivers
must be downloaded and installed. Within the monitor drivers are ICM (Image
Color Matching) files that assist in the WYSIWYG capabilties of the screen.
Well supported photo quality printers have similar files within their drivers
and of course, the ICM printing option must be activated. Consult your respective
manuals, websities, and driver "readme" files for more information.
Type - Color Flatbed
Scanner Button Interface - Stop, Custom, Fax, Copy/Print, Scan
Resolution - 600 x 1200 dpi Optical
Software Enhanced Resolution - 2400 dpi
Scan Modes - 36-Bit Color (Internal), 12-Bit Grayscale (Internal), 1-Bit Black
Scan Area - 8.5' x 11.69' (A4 / Letter Sized)
Scan Method - Fast Single Pass
Interface - Universal Serial Bus
Dimensions - 10" x 18 1/2" x 4" Weight 6.6 lbs. (3.0kg)
Shipping Weight - 9.7 lbs. (4.4 kg)
One year limited warranty
Quantitative and Qualitative results
What are my requirements for a top quality scanner?
Quality is surely first, but without speed, whatís the use? This time last
year, the 7600 USB was undeniably the fastest on the planet.
Now, itís still blazingly fast, but I suspect Visioneerís lead is slowly ebbing
away to the competition.
Whatís of particular interest to me, is that
a hi-res, full-size standard page can be acquired in 2 minutes. Just two years
ago, this procedure could have easily wasted up to 10 minutes, especially
if all you had was one of the parallel port genre. For the photo buffs out
there, notice that in just a few ticks over 30 seconds, you can have hi-res
scans of your favorite still snapshots. But the question is does anyone still
use those old, non-digital cameras? J
The quality of these scans must be, ah, qualified.
Prerequisites are many if the final results (printed or otherwise) will be
useful. After proper setup and calibration of your monitor, printer and of
course, scanner, then critical (or incremental) tweaks can be made. Only then,
will any form of professional level work begin.
With the above out of the way, the 7600 captured
very high quality images for its price class. This is not a photo negative
2400-dpi unit; it also costs hundreds less than those models. What I have
managed to do with this model, the aid of a ViewSonic monitor and an Epson
Stylus printer, is generate nothing less than photo reproducible 8"x10"
prints that are nearly indistinguishable from the originals at a distance
of 24 inches or more. On dozens of occasions, I have taken an old, beat up
photographs (some B&W, some color), cleaned up aging spots, tears, splotches,
and sent the results to my trusty Epson 900. If this scanner can satisfy the
picky eyeballs of Grandmas and Aunts, imagine how happy the casual user will
be-a great stocking stuffer. I would dearly love to upload a few 600x1200
dpi images for all to browse, but those files, even compressed, can be larger
than 50-100MB, so Iím refraining for now.
For about $120, the Visioneer 7600 USB is all
but impossible to beat. An all-around great piece of gear designed for newer
computers, this scanner beat out five other brands, such as UMAX, Mustek,
Hewlett Packard, and AGFA for overall usability. A nice feature, which all
scanners definitely do not have, is a power saving mode that turns off the
cold cathode tube when not in use and thus, dramatically extends the life
of the unit. Coupled with a reasonable price and excellent quality, 600x1200
dpi optical scans, this 10-lb. wonder can bring many hours of enjoyment and
productivity to your life. Highly recommended.
To my dismay, a concerned reader emailed me to say
that his 7600 USB didn't work on his AMD K6-2 setup. The "glitch" as it were,
appears to be the VIA chipset. Today, December 2, I was able to verify that
the 7600 USB scanner has zero chance of operating if your motherboard uses
a VIA chipset. Therefore, I am amending my original "highly recommended" status
and downgrading it to a "cautiously recommended" status. Visioneer should
have support for non-Intel users, period.