capsule review

Microtek ScanMaker i320

At a Glance
  • Microtek Scanmaker i320

Microtek ScanMaker i320
photograph: Rick Rizner

Microtek's ScanMaker i320 is among the least-expensive flatbed scanners we've reviewed that includes Kodak's Digital ICE technology for removing surface defects from photos. The version of Digital ICE that Microtek licensed for this model works with prints only. In our informal tests of this feature, the i320 did a great job of repairing damaged photos by eliminating areas that were creased, gouged, or torn. Using Digital ICE takes several minutes longer than producing a conventional scan because the scanner makes two passes; but it is still faster than fixing cracks and tears manually with an image editor, and its results in blending the repairs with the surrounding area are likely better for the average user.

Other hardware features include an array of quick-start buttons (seven Smart-Touch buttons plus a power button) and an external transparency adapter (called the LightLid 35) that plugs into the back of the scanner and handles one 35mm slide or filmstrip at a time. Nevertheless, most scanners we see these days have transparency adapters built into their lids, and most can scan more than one slide at a time, so Microtek's setup is relatively inconvenient and rather low-budget.

Microtek's ScanWizard 5 driver provides separate modes for novices and experienced users: The Standard Control Panel provides a minimum of options for the most common scanning tasks (including easy one-click color restoration), while the Advanced Control Panel provides more-sophisticated functions--such as an Image Correction window that lets you preview the effects of various adjustments via before and after thumbnails of an image, and a Scan Job Queue for defining and tracking multiple scans with different parameter settings. Few competing scanner drivers provide comparably advanced features.

The i320's performance in our color scanning speed tests was good, but not the best we've seen. It scanned a 2-by-2-inch color photo at 1200 dpi in a speedy 36 seconds. But in some tests the i320's scores fell several seconds behind the fastest models, which included the Epson Perfection 1670 and the HP Scanjet 5530. For example, the i320 took nearly 29 seconds to scan a 7.5-by-10.5-inch, black-and-white document at 300 dpi, whereas the Scanjet 5530 took just under 18 seconds to complete the same test. Still, the i320 is no slowpoke.

Judging the contrast, brightness, and color accuracy of a 100-dpi, 4-by-5-inch color print, our jury gave the i320 slightly better than average marks; an on-screen viewing of the same scan was rated well below average. On the whole, in our print and on-screen tests, the i320's results were lackluster. Scans often had flat-looking color and less contrast, brightness, and sharpness than the originals. Despite the i320's 3200-dpi optical resolution, its scores were no better than average for our 2-by-2-inch, maximum-resolution color photo test. In addition, the i320's scans of line art lacked some of the finer details rendered by rival models such as the Canon CanoScan Lide 50 and the Visioneer OneTouch 7300.

Budget-minded buyers who want automatic photo fixing may find the ScanMaker i320 to their liking.

Richard Jantz

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At a Glance
  • Microtek Scanmaker i320

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