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Microtek ScanMaker 4600

42-bit desktop flatbed scanner By Jeff Bolkan
Consumer-level scanners should be inexpensive, easy-to-use and versatile and should provide decent quality. The Microtek ScanMaker 4600 gets at least passing grades in all these areas, with much better than average scores in quality and versatility.

We received the bundle version with the near worthless digital camera. To be honest, I cant see the point in including a low-resolution, highly limited digital camera with a consumer-level scanner. A 35mm film snapshot camera of equal value would make more sense. The ScanMaker 4600 is optimized for scanning snapshots into email format and is arguably less hassle for the typical consumer to use for this purpose than the cheap plastic digital toy camera.

What it has
Anyway, now that Ive saved you $40, lets examine the scanner. It may be hard to believe for anyone that hasnt priced consumer-level scanners, but $120 is on the high end of the price scale. Microtek offers a pair of models for almost exactly half the price of the 4600. The jump up to Microteks mid-range is relatively steep, with the lowest-priced mid-range scanner $279. Professional level models can easily cost several thousand dollars.

What do you get for the extra $60 that youll spend for the 4600 over the entry-level models? For starters, you get four times the resolution and full 42-bit color input and output. You also get three "one touch scan" buttons, handy for quick e-mail photo scans, quick copies and quick scan. The buttons might be useful for some folks, but I I found that doing things "the hard way" was easier than setting up all the macros and living with the preset results that the one-touch buttons deliver.

However, the extra resolution and color depth are certainly worth the extra price. The 4600s true 2,400 x 1,200 resolution is more than a luxury. Any scanner with at least 300 x 300 resolution can capture a photo and deliver high enough resolution to print the scanned image at the best quality possible on most home printers. But if you want to blow up a 4 x 5 photo to full page dimensions, youll need more resolution. The ScanMaker 4600s high resolution enables you to go in, crop even a small section of a photograph, blow it up dramatically and still get high-quality print results.

A scan from a newsprint original.
Automatic moiré removal and
high resolution combine to
deliver excellent results.

It isnt as easy to justify 42-bit color depth, but it can provide smoother gradients and increased highlight captures. The results arent really apparent in most uses that a scanner of this level is likely to be used for, but it really doesnt hurt anything.

Specifications are great, if youre a robot or need to write advertising copy. Results are what youre plunking down your cash for and the ScanMaker 4600 delivers. With a variety of image and media types, results were uniformly excellent for a scanner in this price range. Color fidelity and range are outstanding and even a scan of a newspaper photo came out sharp and highly detailed. Blowing up tiny sections of a photograph yielded detail that was difficult to see with the naked eye in the original. For most uses short of full-blown magazine production, the image quality will more than suffice.

Smooth color gradations, excellent
shadows and highlights, along with
superb detail make the ScanMaker
4600 an excellent choice for
capturing scans from photos.

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