Microtek ScanMaker i700
At a Glance
When it comes to repairing damaged photos or film, the Microtek ScanMaker i700 is the hands-down winner of all our currently tested scanners. But unfortunately, it's also one of the slowest models we've tested.
The i700's plodding speed put it dead last among all the scanners we've looked at lately. In most cases the i700 took nearly twice as long as the next-slowest model to complete a test. For example, the i700 took 130 seconds to scan a 2-by-2-inch color photo at 1200 dpi--more than twice as slow as the next-slowest corporate scanner (Microtek's own ScanMaker i900) and more than four times pokier than the fastest corporate scanner (the CanoScan 9950F) in this test. A Microtek spokesperson acknowledged the i700's slow speed and said one reason is the time-consuming lamp warmup and calibration routine that the i700 performs prior to each scan, the benefit of which is "to yield optimal light intensity for the desired scanning operation."
Despite its snail-paced speed, the i700 offers advanced features: 4800-dpi resolution, a legal-size (8.5-by-14-inch) scanning area, and a built-in lightbox on top of the lid for previewing slides and film before scanning. Plus, the i700 comes with a particularly impressive version of Applied Science Fiction's Digital ICE (Image Correction and Enhancement). This technology removes surface defects (cracks, tears, and dust specks) from both film and prints. The i700 is the first model we've tested that can use Digital ICE on 4800-dpi print scans. It also allows you to select different levels of ICE strength (normal, strong), and permits you to specify which parts of an image you want to fix.
Although using Digital ICE takes several extra minutes per scan, it's still faster than trying to fix damaged images manually using an image editing application. In one of our pictures, Digital ICE was able to clean up an ugly gouge on a man's arm very naturally.
The i700's image quality was average. It ranked last among the corporate scanners we tested in our March 2005 issue, although it did a decent job on our on-screen monochrome line-art test. Its color photos looked slightly too red, and its grayscale scans of a black-and-white photo weren't quite as bright as the original. But we should note that the i700's test scores were often only a few points behind those of higher-ranking models, and its cumulative score for image quality was respectable.
The i700 has seven quick-start buttons to automate frequently performed tasks such as copy, scan, e-mail, and optical character recognition. Bundled with it are four sturdy film holders that support up to eight 35mm slides, 12 frames from two 35mm filmstrips, and single 4-by-5-inch and 120mm transparencies. The i700 is also the only flatbed we've tested that comes with one 6-by-17-cm (panoramic) transparency holder. The quality software bundle includes Adobe Photoshop Elements 2 for image editing, Ulead Photo Explorer for image management, and Abbyy FineReader Sprint 5 for optical character recognition. For scanning multiple-page documents, a $200 optional automatic document feeder handles 50 pages at once.
If you do fast-paced, heavy-volume production work, we can't recommend the sluggish i700 in spite of its stellar image-repair features.
Microtek ScanMaker i700
USB 2.0 and FireWire, 4800 by 9600 dpi, 21.5 by 11.7 by 3.6 inches (depth by width by height), 11.9 pounds, 8.5-by-14-inch scanning area, built-in transparency adapter, optional automatic document feeder. One-year warranty, 10-hour weekday technical support (calls are not toll-free).