My 6-year-old Epson Perfection 1200S scanner was acting up, again.
I don't do too much scanning, but I want it to work quickly. The Epson was largely up to the task, except for once in a while when it didn't feel like cooperating. Also, I couldn't move the scanner to another computer, because the S in the 1200S name is short for SCSI -- meaning it needed a SCSI interface board. Six years ago, SCSI was the fastest interface on computers, but now FireWire 800 and USB 2have taken over.
After consulting a few Web sites, I decided on the HP 5590 flatbed scanner. It does two-sided document scanning as well as negatives and slides. With the $80 rebate, it was the same price as HP's scanner without the document attachement. Strange, but true.
Well, it turned into a disaster. Here's what's wrong with HP's 5590 scanner:
* Poor installation. I was required to reboot the computer three times to install the scanner:
- First reboot: After the driver software is installed.
- Second reboot: The scanner can only be attached when the computer is off.
- Third reboot: After Windows 2000 detects the driver software and the scanner.
- Additional reboots: Just moving the USB cord to another port requires the computer to be rebooted.
* Slow, even on the USB 2 port. It is so slow that I thought perhaps I had accidentally attached it to a USB 1 port. I thought USB 2 was supposed to be faster than SCSI.
* Noisey. The motors that HP's Chinese manufacturer selected are loud and whiny. In a $350 scanner, I expect quiet, not a high-pitched squealing.
* Awful slide hardware. I need to scan slides, and HP's method must have been designed by a first year Arts student. I am expected to slide the negative inside a long, bulky device. I suppose the idea is to hold the negative strip straight and flat, but (1) it gets jammed as I try to push the neg strip through; and (2) I get finger prints on the neg strip when I try to get it out. (With the old Epson, I just laid the neg strips on the scanner glass.)
* Dreadful software. The usefulness of the TWAIN interface is crucial. This scanner comes with 2: the "commercial" one is useless, because it does not recognize the slide/negative scanner. The other one is the consumer-friendly one, but suffers from endless problems, such as these:
- load a profile, and the software ignores it. I have to load the profile several times before it clues in.
- the scanner does not recognize that slides/negatives are being scanned, and so does a regular preview scan. (The Epson had a switch that told the TWAIN software that slides are being scanned.)
- slides and negatives are shown so small in the preview image that I cannot tell them apart. There is a zoom button, but that forces another preview scan -- a painfully slow preview scan. So I am forced to scan each one (there's usually four images per neg strip), each one slowly.
- the default resolution for slides and negatives is 200dpi! Such a coarse resolution of a tiny image results in a blocky image, suitable only for small pictures on Web sites. 600dpi is what needs to be used.
- HP must know this scanner is painfully slow, because it then zooms the slide image by 300% by default, to make it appear larger. But zooming doesn't improve the image.
- Auto image enhancement seems to have no effect. PaintShop Pro's Enhance Photo feature is much better.
- The software does not recognize multiple slide/negative images nor offers to scan each one. (The Epson software does that.)
* Fat styling. I don't know why the scanner has to be so big for just scanning 8.5x11" sheets. It juts out 2 inches at one end (understandable) and another 5 inches at the other end -- what gets stored in those five inches? After all the power supply is external. The front sticks out three inches from the scan surface. My HP duplex, high-speed laser printer has a smaller footprint! The scanner displaces 234 sq inches of desk space, the laser printer 196 sq in.
So I'm returning this dreadful piece of machinery. How could HP make such a clunker? Epsons are hard to find around here, so I might take a chance on a Canon.