Agfa SnapScan Touch

Maybe a week’s a long time in politics, but it’s even longer in the world of scanners. The SnapScan offers everything you’re ever likely to need from an entry-level scanner: good-quality scans; intuitive and time-saving features; image-editing software; and it’s comparatively small. But scanner technology is so well established, that we’re spoiled for quality of choice. Unluckily for Agfa, last month I reviewed the CanoScan FB 636U (December Reviews, page 61). As impressive as the Agfa is, its Canon counterpart beats it hands-down in most departments. If it hadn’t been for this, the SnapScan would have wowed me more than it did. Don’t get me wrong – the Agfa has plenty going for it. “Smart” buttons on its front allow one to send images straight either to a printer, to an email app as an attachment, to image-editing software, or to an optical character-recognition (OCR) device. I liked that. The SnapScan’s software, ScanWise, is also a potent force. Not only can it automatically re-align poorly placed pictures, but its multiple-selection mode allows for batch-scanning of images, even if you want each to have different scanning settings. Handy. And the Agfa is a feet-up machine: ScanWise checks if images are colour or black-&-white, and will colour-balance them if necessary; its built-in PhotoGenie software enhances detail and colour; and Agfa Color Management colour-corrects while you output images for printing. Very nice too. And, with a maximum resolution of 600-x-1,200 pixels, the SnapScan gives you all the scanning quality you’ll need at this level. I was quite happy to include a couple of pictures in this month’s Macworld that I scanned using the SnapScan (see the Dummies book images on page 105). But, the scanner’s designers must have eaten Lego for lunch, because it’s blockier than Blockie the Blockhead from Blockland. In their defence, though, they have given some thought to iMac owners (old and new), by providing an “icolour” range of clip-on, scan-hood handles. The CanoScan, on the other hand, is a marvel of modern design. And then there’s the image-editing software. The SnapScan comes bundled with MicroFrontier’s Color It!, which is poor, offering nothing but sketchy image-editing capability. The Canon, though, comes with Adobe PhotoDeluxe 2.0, which offers Photoshop-style image-manipulation, an abundance of stock images, plus the facility to create greetings cards, calendars and stationary. For many purchasers of low-end scanners, the family-fun/domestic-tools thing is a real plus. Color It! is about as much fun and use as a cracked glass eye.
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