HP – Scanjet 3970 review

cheap but effective scanner for home users
Photo of HP – Scanjet 3970

You wouldn’t think it possible, but HP has found a gap in its blanket coverage of flatbed scanners. With over twenty products in the Scanjet range you may have thought this was impossible, but HP’s done it. The latest addition to the range is the Scanjet 3970. Pitched as a high-end, home user’s scanner, the Scanjet 3970 is equally useful in the smaller office where quality is more important than volume.

It may not look as sleek as most of its competitors, but the white and dark grey finish makes it look a lot nicer than the majority of the gray slabs in the Scanjet range, although it is still a bit bulky. On the plus side, the lid hinges slide sideways, allowing scans of books or albums, and these feel more solid than other products in the ScanJet range.

Controlling the Scanjet 3970 is done through a simple set of four buttons mounted on the front of the unit. All four are quick-task buttons which can be user-customised. In standard form they are labeled for scan, scan to printer, scan to web and scan to memory disc.

To achieve its 2,400dpi optical capture and to keep costs down, HP uses its dual-sensor CCD system on the Scanjet 3970. This system uses a pair of CCD arrays which are staggered to achieve the high resolution level in a single pass, rather than using high-density, expensive optical hardware.

Despite this cost-cutting, the scans produced by the Scanjet 3970 are clean with good levels of detail and accuracy, and hold up well when compared to the output from more expensive scanners. The unit comes with a USB 2.0 interface, but it’s not a particularly fast scanner. A four by six-inch colour photo scans in around 40-45 seconds, while an A4 page of text takes around 35 seconds when using the OCR software.

Built into the lid is a small transparency lamp with a slot for feeding in a strip of negatives which can be scanned two at a time. This a nice, simple way of scanning negatives, much easier to use than the arrangements found in previous Scanjet models. The resulting scans are also impressive and shame many a more expensive scanner.

The bundled software package is the usual fare; HP’s photo and imaging software, a basic, no-frills image editor, HP Memories Disc Creator, Instant Share, Scanjet Copy and ReadIris Pro OCR software for converting scans of print into editable text. You also get a year’s warranty with the Scanjet 3970.

Company: HP

Contact: 01344 360 000

HP's Scanjet 3970 is an inexpensive scanner, and although not very fast it does generate good quality images, particularly when using it to scan negatives. Like most of the Scanjet range it is easy to set up and use.