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Setup & Calibration

A feature I've always admired in HP scanners is the monitor gamma adjustment. This utility allows you to calibrate your monitor to the scanner so that the image is more "WYSIWYG." The Visioneer lacks this adjustment and the Microtek has improved theirs to the point of near perfection with their latest software. Either one of two modes can be selected, but the "standard" mode is what is installed first.

Standard
Advanced

After a short monitor and scanner calibration, all scans were for once, nearly perfect. Reds and greens were so close to the original that unless you had possession of the original, no defects were visible. To put it another way, if fifty dollars is all that separates you from this kind of image quality, beg or borrow to get this model!

Miscellaneous

Now that I've been evaluating this model for several weeks, it struck me as odd that the cold cathode scan bar doesn't have a sleep mode. Come back after 30 minutes or more of a non-scanning session and the 4600 is still "on." Most models in the $150 price class and up have a standby mode, whereby they save wear and tear and the scanning element itself via a partial shutdown. The flip side to this feature is that one may have to wait 60 or so seconds before scanning is again possible. The 4600 has no wait time because it has no standby mode. This condition however, may shorten the unit's lifespan unless Microtek has managed to manufacture an extremely long life element.

Digital Camera Pics

Remember this is not the megabuck, mega-pixel model that can take your next K-mart family genre pictures. This is an inexpensive, entry level model that doesn't have a focus or exposure control. With those criticisms out of the way, the MN100 does a more than adequate job. Some of the shots displayed have been cropped but no images in this review have been adjusted in any other manner.

Cam & Tripod
MN100 Camera
Mercury
Road
Scanner

Twenty pictures are possible at 352x288 and in low resolution mode, one could cram up to 80 shots inside the small onboard memory chip. The MN100 also does mini-movies that are a few seconds in length. To top it off, full motion 30 FPS video is available via the included USB cable. This is best use of $20 I've come across in quite awhile.

Conclusion

Quantity versus quality. It's the age old conundrum that provokes many classic arguments. The 4600 has the most features of any scanner I've ever laid eyes on and all that quality comes at a price that isn't out of reach for most finicky buyers. Available with or without the camera, the Microtek pleasantly surprised one of the pickiest people around...me. Out with the old and in with the new, the Visioneer has seen it last days in my office, it is being replaced with a model that is somewhat slower, but where image quality counts, the 4600 delivers. I guess that I'll have to make an extra large cup of tea waiting for those 600dpi scans to finish, but the benefits are simply too great to pass up. The camera is one of those pieces that you wonder how they got it so cheap. It's functional, very small and has several usable modes of operation. This combo is enthusiastically recommended.

William Yaple
02/04/01

 





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