capsule review

Microtek ScanMaker S400

At a Glance
  • Microtek ScanMaker s400 Flatbed Scanner (4800x9600, USB, PC/Mac)

Microtek ScanMaker S400
Photograph: Rick Rizner

The $150 Microtek ScanMaker S400 is a stylishly designed flatbed adorned with an attractive metallic finish and decorative nuts and bolts. A bevy of quick-start buttons that enable you to scan, copy, e-mail, OCR, scan-to-Web, set custom settings, and manage setup, plus an easy-to-locate power button, add utility to the front panel. Fortunately, the S400's beauty is more than skin deep. Its internal scanning hardware and accompanying software produce good-looking scans from photo prints, paper documents, and film. In our on-screen and print tests, the S400 delivered vibrant color and sharp monochrome scans. For example, its on-screen version of a 4-by-5-inch color photo (at 100 dpi) and its printed version of a 2-by-2-inch color photo at its maximum resolution (4800 dpi) and maximum color depth (48 bits) featured accurate color (including skin tones), proper brightness and contrast, and fine details in shaded areas.

In our speed tests, however, the S400 was less impressive, earning a rating of Good. Using the Hi-Speed USB 2.0 interface, the S400 took about 38 seconds to scan a color magazine cover and nearly 46 seconds to scan a full-page black-and-white document, both at 300 dpi. In contrast, the top-performing HP Scanjet 4890 took about 17 and 14 seconds (respectively) to complete the same tests.

For transparency scanning, Microtek has added a new version of its attachable adapter--now called LightLid 35mm Plus--that can handle up to four 35mm slides, or five frames in a 35mm filmstrip, at once. Although that's not as many images as some other dual-purpose scanners can batch-scan (such as the Epson Perfection 4490 and the HP Scanjet 4890), it's a definite improvement over the previous LightLid, which held only one 35mm slide at a time.

The S400 comes with an excellent software bundle that includes a versatile scanning driver (Microtek ScanWizard 5), a proficient image editor (Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0), an optical character recognition tool (Abbyy FineReader 5.0 Sprint), and two image organizers (Ulead PhotoExplorer 8.0 SE and Adobe Photoshop Album). As with previous versions, ScanWizard offers an easy streamlined mode for beginners and an advanced mode for experienced users. The driver also includes automatic color restoration, which worked well in correcting faded photo prints and film in our informal tests. However, it doesn't provide dust or scratch removal.

The multitalented Microtek ScanMaker S400 provides good-looking scans and ample software, but you'll have to settle for average speed performance.

Richard Jantz

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At a Glance
  • Microtek ScanMaker s400 Flatbed Scanner (4800x9600, USB, PC/Mac)

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