Scanjet 4890

Following the poor performance of HP’s Scanjet 5530 in our round-up last month we were interested to see how the company has improved matters with its latest release, the Scanjet 4890 Photo Scanner. To start with there’s cost. It’s exactly the same price as the 5530 -give or take 99p -which makes it a good alternative already.

The 4890 slips into the HP line-up as a top-of-the-range home scanner and is squarely targeted at those who want to scan in their photos and slides. It has a transparency adaptor and a secondary light source, which takes up the whole width of the hood and allows you to scan up to 30 frames of film simultaneously.

It comes with HP’s usual vast array of bundled software. In addition to the driver, HP Scan Pro, you get HP Image Edit, Image Print, Instant Share and Panorama Stitching. Few of these will be of much interest to anyone who uses iPhoto, but the latter might be handy if you want to create panoramas from your photos.

It takes 27 seconds to scan an A4 document at 150dpi and image quality for text is good -characters are sharp and clear. The driver software has a nice, simple-to -use interface. However, despite being called HP Scan Pro there are few advanced options. You can use features such as exposure and colour adjustment, but these have to be accessed via the menu and pop up in separate windows.

Scanning an A4 document at 300dpi takes 42 seconds, which is extremely fast. It’s 14 seconds faster than the fastest time we were able to achieve in our round-up last month.

A 6-x-4in photo at 300dpi takes just 14 seconds. Again that’s very fast, and little more than half the time taken by the top speed scanner in our round-up. Photo quality is impressive, providing excellent colour balance and clarity. If we have any criticism it’s that there is a small amount of noise in areas of flat colour, but this is only visible at high magnification.

Despite the fast scanning speed for reflective media, it’s much slower for transparencies, taking 4 minutes 37 seconds for a 35mm slide -this is at 2,400dpi though. In fact, the image quality is so good you could easily get away with scanning your slides at a lower resolution, such as 600dpi, which takes just 45 seconds. Either way, image quality is superb. Even though the transparency light source covers such a wide area, you get consistent results regardless of where your slide sits on the scanning bed.


HP has surpassed itself with the 4890. It’s an incredibly fast unit for scanning reflective media and the results are impressive whatever type of image or document you are scanning. This is a massive step up and wins a well-deserved Editor’s Choice award.

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