Epson Perfection 2480 Photo
The Epson Perfection 2480 Photo costs only $99, yet its fine image quality and brisk performance make it an excellent value. The 2480 scans both photos and film; and like previous Epson scanners, it has push buttons that quickly launch common scanning tasks, and a versatile scanning driver (Epson Scan) that offers different user modes for novices and veterans. For example, if you choose the Perfection 2480 Photo's Full Auto mode in the driver, the scanner will recognize the type of printed image (such as a color or black-and-white document) or type of film (negative or positive); it then scans and saves the image for you--all at the press of a button. Professional mode, on the other hand, offers complete manual control over the scanning process.
The 2480 performed very well in our speed tests, using its USB 2.0 interface. When scanning at lower resolutions (100 and 300 dots per inch), the 2480 turned in about average speeds; but it scanned fast enough at 600 and 1200 dpi to earn a lower cumulative time than most others in its class. For example, it scanned a 4-by-5-inch black-and-white photo at 600 dpi in just under 26 seconds; most other SOHO scanners took from about 28 to 41 seconds to complete the same scan.
Overall image quality was also impressive. The 2480 produced attractive scans of both color and monochrome documents. It earned the highest rating among its peers for its accurate reproduction of the brightness and contrast in a black-and-white photo scanned and printed at 600 dpi. The 2480 also produced accurate color and sharp details in the on-screen reproduction of a 4-by-5-inch color photo scanned at 100 dpi; the only consumer model that scored higher on this test was the Microtek ScanMaker 6800.
The Epson Scan driver includes enhancement features that can improve the look of aged transparencies; its color restoration, dust removal, and film grain reduction features all worked well. And the 2480's optical resolution of 2400 by 4800 dpi makes it possible to enlarge 35mm images up to 8 by 10 inches with sufficient image quality for printing. However, the 2480's film adapter can scan only a maximum of two 35mm slides or three frames in a filmstrip at once.
Bundled software includes ArcSoft PhotoImpression 5 for image editing, Abbyy FineReader 5 Sprint for optical character recognition, and Epson Smart Panel, which helps you accomplish a variety of tasks such as creating low-resolution images for uploading to a photo-sharing Web site, or for sending via e-mail or fax. The optional $149 automatic feeder handles multiple photo prints up to 4 by 6 inches, as well as business cards, but it was not available for this review.
An excellent choice for the average user, the quick-study Epson Perfection 2480 Photo scans quickly and creates good-looking images--from both photos and film--all at a bargain price.