Flatbed scanners have never been particularly stylish things, but Canon’s certainly pushing things in the right direction. This new CanoScan N1240U is not a great deal larger than the A4 documents that it’s designed to scan and it’s only a couple of centimetres thick, too. Instead of looking like a clunky grey box, as many flatbed scanners still do, this is almost worthy of an aesthetic design award. And it comes with a detachable stand that’ll let you use it in the upright position, so it uses even less desk space.
So, it’s pretty then. But there are more important things to consider when buying a scanner, such as resolution and colour depth. Here the CanoScan N1240U also does well. The optical resolution (ignore interpolated resolution values when buying a scanner – they’re irrelevant) from its LED scanning engine is 1200 x 2400dpi and the internal colour depth is 48-bit. This is reduced to 24-bit for output to the host PC, but that initial over-sampling means the colours should be exceptionally accurate.
Connection to the host machine is via the USB port and there’s no need for an additional power supply, so installation is pretty simple. There’s a raft of utilities supplied with the unit, some of which interface with the three buttons on the front of the scanner so that you can produce copies and send e-mails at the touch of a button. You can also place up to ten photos on the scanning surface, press the ‘Scan’ button and let the scanner process each photo separately, automatically de-skewing the resultant images. It sound too clever to be true, but it worked in our tests.
Other cunning features include the scanning lid, which automatically hinges out to make room when you’re scanning bulky items, a utility for removing scratches and dust from scanned images, and the auto-sensing software that adjusts gamma and tone settings for you, whatever you’re scanning. There’s the usual photo editing and archiving software included in the box, too.
And the acid test; what’s the output like? We scanned documents and photos to test the quality and performance. A full-colour A4 scan at 600dpi took just under three minutes, a 1200dpi scan rather longer. The output quality was good, with nice contrast, good definition and ‘real’ colours. Scanning photographs produced particularly satisfying results without any false colouring, loss of detail or excessive contrast. The OCR software supplied – OmniPage Pro 9.0 – is pretty good despite being a few releases behind the current version, but since most people use their scanners for photographic work, this isn’t a major consideration.
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