A paperless journalist needs a good scanner.
I picked a Canon Lide 210, a simple flat-bed scanner. It isn’t coupled with a printer as part of a multifunction device and it doesn’t do film strips or slides. There isn’t an automatic sheet feeder.
None of these features would be of use to me. I want bare-bones scanning and that’s what I have. I want high quality scanning. Canon delivers with a vengeance.
High resolution scanning
The 4,800 dot per inch resolution is possibly overkill for day-to-day journalism work. I mainly scan printed documents and a lower resolution will do, but the quality looks so good I tend to leave them in the higher quality format. The files are bigger, but disk storage costs next to nothing and there’s little processing to slow things down.
Having higher resolution is useful when I want to select small areas from a document or photograph.
Installation is simple. It took less than five minutes from opening the box to getting my first scan. The hardest part was connecting the stand to the scanner so it can sit upright on my desk.
Optical character recognition
The Canon Lide 210 scanner comes with optical character recognition software. While this is a plus, OCR not much use to me. Most of my scans go to Microsoft OneNote 2010 which has built-in OCR and I use Nuance’s Paperport and Omnipage which also do a great OCR job. In testing Canon’s OCR worked well – it was flawless with some basic documents I threw at it. But the OCR tools I already have are good too.
Being able to scan direct to PDF is useful – a feature that often saves me a step.
Scanning is easy. There are five buttons on the front of the scanner so you can insert a document and send it directly to various applications. Sometimes you need to scan from inside applications – there are drivers to work with Photoshop or Fireworks. In practice the upright position is fine for single pages, but the flatbed scanner needs to sit flat when scanning from magazines or books.
I was annoyed I had to buy a new scanner. My old scanner, a Canon FB630U, works perfectly well. However, I recently upgraded my desktop and there are no drivers for the scanner to work with 64-bit Windows 7. So built-in obsolescence forced me to buy a new scanner.
I tricked the FB630U into working with 32-bit Windows 7 using a compatibility mode. It isn’t possible to do the same thing with 64-bit Windows 7. Workarounds look time-consuming.
Hardware is cheap and time is money, so I made the economically rational decision to buy a new scanner.
I feel guilty about sending something that still works to the landfill. That’s just wrong.
Buying another Canon scanner
In the end choosing another Canon was the right decision. At first I didn’t want to give money to the company that didn’t bother to develop the drivers needed my old scanner current. On the other hand, Canon gear is good quality and price competitive. My previous scanner worked well for more than ten years, so I expect ten years from the new one.
The new scanner’s speed was instantly noticeable – scans take about 25% as long to complete with the Lide 210 when compared to the FB630U. Canon has dramatically improved its software – and its aesthetics. The old software was written for Windows 95 – at least that’s what it looks like. And the higher resolution is great.