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-- by Serdar Yegulalp
Price and quality barriers collapse with Spot InnoScan's introduction of two user-friendly scanners, both of which land on our WinList of recommended products.
The ScanTak-2C and FotoTak-6 each cost only $199. The ScanTak-2C flatbed offers a resolution of 300x600 dots per inch (up to 2400dpi with interpolation). Its slide-oriented cousin, the FotoTak-6, touts a resolution of 600x1200dpi. Both scanners feature 30-bit color and are small and lightweight: 7.7 pounds for the ScanTak-2C and 3.3 pounds for the FotoTak-6.
Neither requires a power cord-both draw power from the SCSI interface. Each comes with a detachable hood and power and status lights.
The ScanTak-2C is better for document and letter-size image scanning, while the FotoTak-6 is best for slides, negatives, transparencies and smaller photos.
The ScanTak-2C's main competitor is the $299 Agfa SnapScan (see WinLab Reviews, December 1996). Unlike the ScanTak, compatible only with Windows 3.x and 95, the SnapScan also provides NT drivers. Image quality from both is terrific, but the Scan-Tak costs $100 less. The FotoTak-6 currently has no equivalent competitors.
Drivers for Windows 95, as well as extensive SOHO and home-oriented productivity software, come with both scanners. The provided 8-bit, 25-pin SCSI interface card will fit almost any system. The developers provide a TWAIN interface that looks snazzy and realistic. All the buttons include tool-tip help.
We configured custom scan settings for different jobs-including full-page scans, postcards and CD leaflets-and saved them for later use. The driver gives you control over color curves, gamma correction, brightness and contrast, and independent channel functions. You can save and reuse correction curves. Click the appropriate button to call up a number of preset choices for standard image types, such as photographs and newsprint.
We encountered two major problems with the TWAIN driver: It lacks a built-in descreening function, and its handling of scanning resolution is clumsy. Four buttons control the selection of scan resolution, allowing you to add or subtract either 1dpi or 100dpi from the dpi level. The buttons responded slowly, and selecting an intermediate resolution of 150dpi, for example, proved to be a chore.
On the positive side, however, if the ScanTak-2C's SCSI interface card isn't working properly (e.g., it's set to an address already in use) and you try to call up the TWAIN driver, a dialog box pops up, showing the card's possible jumper settings, the addresses they govern, whether those addresses are available and instructions for configuring software and hardware.
Both scanners took approximately 30 seconds to process a full preview and about 2 minutes to scan the entire preview area at 300dpi. The FotoTak-6's speed is proportionate to its higher optical resolution, so even though it scans a smaller physical area (like a slide), it takes about the same amount of time. The FotoTak-6's illuminator kit and reflector hood, which let you properly scan slides and transparencies, are an additional $30. Both units are usually quiet, except during Preview mode, when a grinding noise announces the lamp's travel path along a document.
Our scans with a Ronchi test target yielded an average transfer score of 0.39 out of a possible 0.5; the Agfa SnapScan scored only 0.28. Transfers of tougher-to-reproduce colors (fluorescents and oranges) weren't quite up to snuff, but conventional offset images and photos looked fine.
The bundled software is impressive. ScanTak's Scantastic includes OCR and business card scanning programs, a fax enhancement module, a scan-to-mail program, as well as a fax and e-mail encryption and security utility, color matching functionality and picture organizer.
For young or inexperienced users, FotoTak's FunScan from Spot offers an easy-to-use graphical interface that can operate as the front end to Kai's Power GOO or Ulead Systems' ImagePals Morph Editor.
Both the price and the quality of the ScanTak-2C and the FotoTak-6 are sure to hit more than a few sweet spots. That's why we're adding both to our WinList, with the ScanTak-2C replacing the Agfa SnapScan.