Microtek ScanMaker i900
The Microtek ScanMaker i900 isn't the cheapest flatbed scanner we've tested lately, but it's one of the most versatile. Whereas most scanners in its price range scan only letter-size prints, the ScanMaker i900 can handle legal-size originals. It also features a novel dual-scanning bed that produces some of the best film scans we've seen from a flatbed.
With a footprint of about 15 by 25 inches and weighing a bit more than 26 pounds, the ScanMaker i900 commands a lot of desk real estate. Once you've loaded the Microtek Scan Wizard Pro software and the requisite drivers on your machine, you must also install the i900's calibration utilities. For optimal performance, Microtek suggests that you recalibrate every 14 days. (For more info on calibration, see this Pixel Perfect column by CNET senior editor Lori Grunin.) You connect the scanner to your machine via USB or FireWire. Based on our tests with scans that ranged in size from 75MB to 300MB, FireWire shaved scan time by about 10 to 25 percent, depending on the computing platform.
The Microtek ScanWizard Pro software is very easy to use and offers a wide range of tools for adjusting scanned images. You have full control over tonal scale and three different ways to make fine color adjustments. The i900 employs Digital ICE Photo Print technology for flatbeds, which corrects dust and scratches but isn't as sophisticated as the Digital ICE4 technology that thehas onboard. It doesn't work on film and won't let you make any adjustments to the sampling rate. Instead of the most current ICE technology, Microtek relies on ColorRescue, which made moderate color-balance corrections to our film and reflective scans. ICE works reasonably well, but you will pay a substantial speed penalty. In our tests, it took almost 10 minutes to scan an 8x10 at 300dpi with ICE turned on. Without ICE, a 300dpi scan of an 8x10 original takes about a minute.