First-time film and photograph scanners who can afford the fashionable-looking CanoScan LiDE 80 will enjoy its design, ease of use, and good-size software bundle. For those looking for a less expensive model with the same design and better-looking color photograph scanning, the LiDE 80's sibling, the CanoScan LiDE 50, fits the bill--unless you need to scan film.
With its slender body; lightly ribbed, silver-aluminum cover; and dark gray trim, the Canon CanoScan LiDE 80 looks like a cookie sheet (it's only an inch-and-a-half thick) and is almost as straightforward. It weighs in at just less than four pounds, making it portable enough to travel. Just four raised buttons on the front--one each for copying, scanning, filing, and e-mailing scanned images--control all functions. Two rear ports, one for the USB 2.0 connection and one for the Film Adapter Unit (FAU), are the only inputs; power comes through the USB cable. When the film adapter is in place and the scanner lid is closed (the recommended position for scanning), the scanner lid tilts slightly to one side, adding a funky note to the system's otherwise well-polished design.
Like its partner, the CanoScan LiDE 50, the LiDE 80 connects to a PC or a Macintosh computer via USB. Installation is simple but tedious; there are eight items to install, including the manual, plus Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0, which is well worth having. The rest of the software package is of variable utility. ScanGear, the scanner driver, is a must, as is ScanSoft OmniPage, for its optical character recognition (OCR) function.
People who are seasoned film and photograph scanners won't love the LiDE 80's scan quality. In our tests, color photographs looked grainy and were flawed by horizontal banding. On the upside, the ScanGear drivers, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0, and the two ArcSoft image-editing programs, PhotoBase and PhotoStudio, provide a variety of enhancement and error-correction tools.
Editor's note: We have updated the ratings of this product to reflect changes in this category.