Epson Perfection 4490


21 Sep 2005

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Product: Photo scanner
Price: €299
The ultimate home scanner is how Epson is billing its newest baby — ultimate because it incorporates Digital Ice software to restore scratched and dusty film, the only device in its class to boast this feature, Epson claims.

The machine is aimed mainly at the home market, at anyone who wants to keep an electronic archive of the shelves full of prints and drawers full of slides and transparencies they have built up. But equally many small design houses or printing/publishing businesses would find it a useful addition to the office.

The 4490 scans and saves prints, documents, 35mm and medium-format film as photographic images and, at a resolution of 4800 dpi (dots per inch), it can capture images in fine-grain detail.

With its silver and black livery and low-slung appearance, to a work colleague this sleek scanner looked rather like a sandwich maker (the Foreman Grill of scanners perhaps?) but under the bonnet it was a thoroughly conventional flatbed scanner.

It is easily set up, connecting to PC or Mac via high-speed USB 2.0 cable. The software gives you the usual scanning options, most importantly the ability to save at various resolutions, from 72dpi (for web use) to 300dpi and above for high-quality printing.

The length of time it takes to scan an image varies, according to the resolution setting, but it will typically be less than a minute. Without being ultra-quiet the machine shouldn’t disrupt the office harmony either.

The scanner’s built-in transparency unit can accommodate up to 12 35mm frames, four 35mm slides or one medium format film up to 6x12cm. The machine will automatically detect whether the film is positive or negative, colour or black and white. In preview mode, you see the image exactly as it would appear in a photograph.

Four buttons on the front of the scanner allow you to scan the image as a Pdf, attach it in as an email or copy it. The built-in software automatically repositions a photograph or document, even if it is not placed on the panel squarely, taking the guesswork out of the scanning process.

An automatic document feeder is available as an option, which allows you to scan up to 30 A4 sheets, rather than manually having to place them on the scanner bed one at a time.

The software bundle that comes with the scanner includes the scanner driver plus an image enhancing and editing bundle that includes Adobe Photoshop Elements 3.0 and Epson Creativity Suite. To get full benefit from the scanner, it would be worth spending time getting to grips with some of image manipulation techniques on offer.

To sum up, while the 4490 won’t fully eliminate the chore of archiving your image library, it works with admirable efficiency and speed and comes at a relatively affordable price.

By Brian Skelly