Canon CanoScan 3200F
If there's a flashier-looking desktop scanner out there than the Canon CanoScan 3200F, we haven't seen it. Aside from its text-scanning flaws, the 3200F's performance stacks up to its good looks, making it a great choice for photo and color-graphics scanning. If you're looking for crisp text scans, however, check out the HP Scanjet 3970.
The CanoScan 3200F is aerodynamically designed, with a burnished purple-and-clear, striped, plastic lid that contrasts nicely with its gray-plastic base. The scanner's lid slopes gently down the front and opens easily to lay flat on top of even extremely thick books or magazines. The base has a protruding, front-lip control panel for easy access to its four function buttons: Copy, Scan, File, and E-mail. At the back are two ports, one for the USB 2.0 connector and the other for the power adapter; other Canon scanners we have tested cleverly functioned through a USB connection alone.
Measuring almost 18 inches long and weighing just more than six pounds, the CanoScan 3200F requires a good chunk of desk real estate, and it definitely is not portable. Once situated and plugged in, however, the 3200F is easy to install. It comes with a basic bundle of software, which includes the somewhat misleadingly named Ulead DVD PictureShow SE Basic (Windows only), a program for creating CD-R or CD-RW (not DVD) slide shows using a VCD (video compact disc) burner. Unlike its cousins, Canon's CanoScan LiDE 50 and CanoScan LiDE 80, the 3200F does not come with Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0. Instead, you get the limited Adobe Photoshop Album Starter and the merely competent ArcSoft PhotoStudio 5.5.
Color graphics and photographs scanned by the CanoScan 3200F looked excellent in our tests. The images were clear and sharp, the colors matched, and there was very little graininess. Text scans, on the other hand, were subpar: letters and numbers were rough-looking around the edges, some showed false shadows around them, and smaller fonts were barely legible.
Editor's note: We have updated the ratings of this product to reflect changes in this category.