Howtek Personal Color Scanner. (Evaluation)
by Richard C. Leinecker
I'm not an expert desktop publisher, a great computer artist, or even a seasoned scanner user. But this flatbed scanner made me look like all three. After I spent several days with it, the sky opened up, and creating professional-quality scanned color images became second nature to me.
The scanner fit on my desk with room to spare. It measures about 12 x 20 inches. A long cable was provided to connect the scanner to the card installed in my computer. Although the card has jumper settings so you can work around equipment conflicts, I didn't need to. Everything worked properly when I first fired it up.
I had my choice of eight software packages and chose Tempra Pro, since I'd used it before. I'm not sure if my results would've differed with a different program, but Tempra Pro worked well. It was fairly easy to figure out without the manual. That's good, because when I did read the manual for advice on the finer points I found it to be poorly written and incomplete. For example, it gave information about how to add more light to an image but not why you might want to make such a change. Nor were there any tips on how you could maximize Tempra to get the best picture. That's not the Howtek folks' fault. The manual concerning the hardware was complete, clear, and easy to read.
There aren't many adjustments you can make. That's good for someone like me. The areas I focused on included the color saturation for red, green, and blue; overall light exposure; scan area; and sharpness. Soon I got a feel for which settings were best for different kinds of images. I found it easier and easier to get close on the first scan.
Tempra saves in just about every kind of file format you can imagine, but I was only interested in PCX and GIF. The saved files loaded easily into other programs, a welcome situation after the file-incompatibility problems I've had with some software.
I scanned about 50 official NASA photos and transparencies, among other things. Not only did the scanner work remarkably well with transparencies, but the quality was astounding in 640 x 480 VGA with 256 colors. I went down to 320 x 200 VGA with 256 colors to see how it did. Considering the low resolution, it wasn't bad.
All of these images can be found on COMPUTE/NET on GEnie and America Online. If you want to see for yourself what this scanner can do, log on to GEnie or America Online and use the keyword COMPUTE to find COMPUTE/NET. Then, call up a directory of the COMPUTE's Art Gallery section of our software library. Download several images and use VPIC or another program to view them; you'll be surprised at what you see.
If I had the budget to buy this scanner, I would. If you're looking for a quality piece of equipment for professional results, look to the Howtek Personal Color Scanner.