boost performance while dropping in price
round of space-saving models combines scanning, copying, faxing
in compact units
by Alan Zisman (c) 2002 First published
in Business in Vancouver
, Issue # 696 February 25- March 3 GearGuide column
rare and expensive, it's seemed recently that flatbed
scanners and printers have become almost cheap throw-aways.
As with a lot of hardware, though, more expensive models
not only offer more features, but better quality and reliability.
Instead of paying $100 or so, here's what $500 can buy.
paper into bits and bytes
Some scanners are primarily aimed at graphic designers,
as a way to turn art and photos on paper into digitized
files. HP's new Scanjet 5550 ($499) may
instead be of interest to businesses looking to convert
paper forms and documents into digital form. Features
include an automatic document feeder that lets users load up to
35 pages, then scans them at eight pages per minute. That useful
feature eliminates those minutes spent hovering over the scanner.
Scan-to-CD feature lets users bypass their hard drives
entirely, putting the scanned images right onto a CD-R disc. The
high-speed USB 2.0 interface offers speedy performance; HP promises
preview scans in about seven seconds.
ScanSoft PaperPort software helps manage the storage,
archiving and access of scanned documents, while bundled OCR (optical
character recognition) software converts scans from pictures of
text to word-processable digital formats.
printing on the road
$499, Canon's new i70 Bubble Jet Portable Printer aims
notebook-toting road warriors who travel with portable computer and
digital camera and want reliable quality printing on the go. It
promises desktop-comparable print quality, up to 4800x1200 dots per
inch (dpi), with text pages printing at speeds of up to 13 pages per
minute (black) and nine ppm (colour). It can print borderless
eight-inch by ten-inch and four-inch by six-inch photos, with the
four-by-six photos printed in under 90 seconds.
model digital cameras and camcorders can be connected directly
into the Canon printer's USB port, which enables printing without
involving a computer. The printer can run off AC power, or an optional
battery pack (for an additional cost). Ink cartridge capacity has
been increased compared to previous Canon portable printer models,
lowering the cost of operation. The printer is Windows and Mac
All-in-ones combine printer, fax, scanner, and copier in a single
unit, saving on desk space and money. Quality has improved to rival
stand-alone components. HP's just-released Officejet 6110
(once again at $499) offers improved performance in a model aimed
at small offices, featuring 4800x1200 dpi printing (on photo paper)
with optional six-colour ink cartridge for improved photo quality.
Its 35-page document feeder allows for multi-page unattended faxing
allows for two-sided printing, while its flatbed scanner
offers quality scans, copies, and faxes. As a colour or black-and-white
photocopier, it can produce up to 19 copies per minute (black) or
14 cpm in colour, with reductions or enlargements ranging from 25
per cent to 400 per cent.
recording gets more practical
DVD isn't commonplace yet, but Sony's DRU500AX
makes it a couple of steps more practical. It costs a relatively
affordable $599, and offers compatibility with most of the
of previously incompatible standards. With blank DVD discs falling in
price, this drive is an attractive option for users needing the 4.7
gigabyte capacity of DVDs (about seven times as much as can fit onto a
blank CD disc) for storing data, video (about two hours' worth) or
DRU500AX is an internal, PC-only model; the external DRX500ULX
model ($750) offers both high-speed USB 2.0 and Firewire (aka IEEE1394
or iLink) connections.