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Microtek ScanMaker 4800 review:

Microtek ScanMaker 4800

  • 1
Typical Price: £99.00
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The Good Low price; high maximum resolution; sharp color scans; fast grayscale speed; dedicated scan buttons.

The Bad Slow color scanning; inefficient manuals; ineffective film/slide attachment; skimpy support.

The Bottom Line The ScanMaker 4800 offers nice color scans and speedy grayscale performance at a bargain price, but its film and slide scans are horrible.

Visit manufacturer site for details.

CNET Editors' Rating

6.2 Overall
Editors' note: We have updated the ratings of this product to reflect changes in this category. (5/3/04)

The low-cost Microtek ScanMaker 4800 promises a big return on a small investment. It features 48-bit color, a 2,400x1,200dpi (dots per inch) maximum resolution, and a film/slide attachment. But a quick run through CNET Labs revealed that while some of the Microtek's features are exceptional, others are just for show. The low-cost Microtek ScanMaker 4800 promises a big return on a small investment. It features 48-bit color, a 2,400x1,200dpi (dots per inch) maximum resolution, and a film/slide attachment. But a quick run through CNET Labs revealed that while some of the Microtek's features are exceptional, others are just for show.

Simple setup, lots of hand-holding
The $99 ScanMaker 4800's descriptive poster makes setup easy. The scanner connects via USB and supports Windows 98, 2000, Me, and XP, as well as Mac OS 8.6 through 9.x. Installation of the Microtek ScanWizard 5 driver and additional applications--ABBYY FineReader for optical character recognition; Ulead PhotoExplorer for Windows Explorer-like file searching; Adobe PhotoDeluxe 4.0 (PC) or Photoshop LE 5.0 (Mac) for image editing; and Adobe Acrobat Reader--was also fairly painless, but Microtek offers novices no guidance for deciding which ones to load.

The ScanMaker 4800 is also easy to use, thanks to the five buttons lining its face. The Scan button generates a preview of your image in the ScanWizard 5 driver that you can then tweak, scan as-is, or send to another image-editing app. Three other buttons scan the image and transfer it automatically to your printer, your e-mail program, or your word processor. A fifth button sends your scan directly to a Web site of your choice. Microtek includes a glossy handout promoting the use of the photo-sharing site iMira, but you can read about other services in CNET Software's roundup of four online photo managers.

The ScanWizard 5 driver itself has a host of satisfying features, including a pared-down control panel that lets you set the brightness, the contrast, and the saturation; an Advanced panel extends these capabilities considerably. Unfortunately, you cannot switch between panel modes while working on the same prescanned image.

Documentation is plentiful but scattered
We usually ding products for having insufficient documentation, but in the case of the ScanMaker 4800, it was just the opposite; its mélange of brochures and CD-based material actually left us more confused. One brochure guides you through ScanWizard 5, while another walks you through the included LightLid attachment for 35mm film and slide scanning, and the full-blown user manual is available in electronic format only. Microtek should collect all of this errant documentation into one convenient guide.

Fine color scans and grayscale speeds
The ScanMaker 4800 displayed mixed results in CNET Labs' tests. The scanner's sigma-6 CCD (charge-coupled device) scanning mechanism, with six instead of the usual three rows of light sensors, produced good color scans, but it took 43.7 seconds per scan, making the ScanMaker 4800 among the slowest models we've tested. Its 16.4-second grayscale speed was a lot better, but scans looked slightly overexposed. Quality took a drastic dive with film and slide scanning using the LightLid attachment. You can't expect professional-level film/slide output from a $99 scanner, but the particularly poor film scans looked like they were made inside a fish tank.

The ScanMaker 4800's support was nearly as bad. While we've come to expect one-year warranties with low-cost products, Microtek deepens our disappointment with its skimpy support. You make a toll call to reach technicians, and help is available on weekdays only from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. PT; on Wednesdays, the lines close at 3 p.m. And if you try the company's Web site for off-hours assistance, good luck; all you'll find there is a short, random list of FAQs.

If you're on a really tight budget, the easy-to-use ScanMaker 4800 delivers good-quality color and grayscale scans for the price. But if you have a box of memories that you want to digitize, plan on spending more money to get a scanner with a decent film/slide attachment. And the consumers that Microtek targets will want better support than the company offers.

Scanner speeds
Time, in seconds, to scan in image (shorter bars equal better performance)
Color negative   
Color slide   
Color scan   
Grayscale scan
Canon CanoScan D1250U2F
57.6 
33.1 
42.8 
38.2 
Microtek ScanMaker 4800
21.9 
15.1 
43.7 
16.4 
Mustek BearPaw 1200TA
63.8 
40.5 
28.3 
23.8 
 
Scan quality
•Poor   ••Fair   •••Good   ••••Excellent
 Scanner Color scan Grayscale scan Color slide Color negative
 Canon CanoScan D1250U2F •• •• ••• ••••
 Microtek ScanMaker 4800 ••• ••• • •
 Mustek BearPaw 1200TA •• •• •• •
 
Highs and lows mark the Microtek ScanMaker 4800's performance. The scanner topped the list in grayscale speed but bottomed out at color performance. The scanner achieved relative equilibrium in color and grayscale image quality, but slide and negative scans looked abominable.

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