There are two versions of the Epson Perfection 1650 flat bed A4 scanner; a standard version and a ‘Photo’ version. Both are equipped with a USB 1.1 interface, but the latter version we tested incorporates a transparency illuminator in the scanner lid. This is neat as no bulky additional light box is required. Despite housing the film illuminator, the lid is not excessively large or thick. It can illuminate 35mm negative strips or mounted slides and an optional 5×4 inch format upgrade is available.
Generally speaking, scanning can be a processor-intensive operation. As scanning resolutions rise – and the 1650 has a maximum resolution of 1600 x 3200 pixels per inch (ppi) – a greater load will be placed on the host PC’s processor and so scanning will slow down. The Perfection 1650 uses a built in ‘ASIC Hyper Processor’ custom chip with its own processor to alleviate demand on the host computer’s own processor. The result is that the 1650 is a very fast scanner indeed, pre-scanning an A4 page in just 8 seconds and scanning a whole 24-bit colour A4 page in just 41 seconds.
While the native optical resolution of the 1650 is 1600ppi, it uses a Micro Step Drive motor to advance the scanning head up to 3200 steps per inch, hence the 1600 x 3200 stated maximum resolution. Colour sensitivity is rated at 48 bits and Epson quotes an optical density rating of 3.2. However, it’s difficult to interpret these figures without measuring signal to noise performance.
It’s much more practical to evaluate scan results and overall, the image quality is excellent. Images are slightly on the warm side, but there is good tonal depth and detail. Film scanning, though, was less satisfactory, as sharpness was disappointing and despite the ASIC Hyper Processor we were left waiting for over half an hour before the post scan processing was completed. Admittedly the test PC wasn’t anything special in this instance, but the ASIC feature is supposed to shine in such a set up.
Epson provides a software utility with function-specific buttons that offer Copy, Scan to e-mail, Scan to OCR, Photo Print, Scan to application, Scan for creativity and Scan to Web options. Instead of ArcSoft Photo Impression 3 that is supplied with the standard version, the 1650 Photo comes with the excellent Adobe Photoshop Elements.
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