Canon CanoScan LiDE 25
The $50 CanoScan LiDE 25 features the slim design we've seen in other Canon scanners that use the same type of Compact Image Sensor (CIS) technology. Because they use tiny LEDs (LiDE stands for LED Indirect Exposure) instead of standard lamps, these scanners are much thinner than conventional flatbed scanners, so they fit neatly into homes or offices where desktop space is limited. The LiDE 25 also draws its power from the same USB cable it employs for data transfer, cutting cable clutter.
Aside from its affordability and compactness, however, the LiDE 25 is a major letdown. Based on its dismal performance, lackluster image quality, and limited features, it's hard to recommend this scanner to anyone other than the most budget-minded users who are willing to accept its compromises. If space is at a premium and you can afford to spend a few bucks more, you'll probably prefer Canon's equally compact but much faster CanoScan LiDE 60.
In our speed tests, the LiDE 25 left us tapping our feet, waiting for the final scans. Tested using its Full-Speed USB 2.0 interface (which supports transfers no faster than USB 1.1's), the LiDE 25 earned the lowest rating among value scanners PC World has recently tested. It took the poky LiDE 25 well over a minute (73.3 seconds) to scan a full-page color document at 300 dpi, compared to 25.6 seconds for the fastest value model (the Epson Perfection 4490 Photo).
When viewing a battery of on-screen and print images, our judges gave the LiDE 25 a comparatively low rating of Fair for its overall image quality. Color images produced using the scanner's off-the-shelf default settings fell short in terms of color accuracy, brightness, and contrast when compared to the originals. In our print test of a 2-by-2-inch color photo at the LiDE 25's maximum resolution (1200 dpi) and maximum color depth (24 bits), some colors looked too bright and were missing subtle gradations. As with the LiDE 60, skin tones looked too reddish, lacking the subtle pinks of the original. Although the LiDE 25 fared better in our monochrome tests, its overall image quality was lackluster compared with other value models.
To be fair, we should note that the LiDE 25 produced more-accurate color scans after we changed some of the default settings in the scanner driver, Canon ScanGear CS. For example, after turning off the driver's preset "Auto Tone: On" option--which caused too much color clipping in certain test images--many of our test scans displayed better color accuracy, brightness, and contrast. The scanning software also offers other automated image enhancement options: fade correction, backlight correction, and dust-and-scratch reduction. Our informal tests using those options produced significant improvements, such as removing a yellowish cast from a faded print.
Other limitations that separate the LiDE 25 from other value scanners are its lower resolution (1200 dpi compared to 2400 dpi or higher) and its lack of support for scanning film--no transparency adapter is bundled or available as an add-on accessory. The LiDE 25 features three quick-start buttons (scan, copy, e-mail), and its software bundle includes an image editor (ArcSoft PhotoStudio 5.5) and an optical character recognition application (ScanSoft OmniPage SE 2.0).
The Canon CanoScan LiDE 25 is very inexpensive, but its compromises in speed, quality, and features make it hard to recommend.
Canon CanoScan LiDE 25
Full-speed USB 2.0, 1200 by 2400 dpi, 10.1 by 1.3 by 15.1 inches (width by depth by height), 3.5 pounds, 8.5-by-11.7-inch scanning area, no transparency adapter, no automatic document feeder. One-year warranty, 16-hour weekday and 8-hour Saturday toll-free technical support.