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Canon CanoScan LiDE 100

>> Friday, January 9, 2009

As is true of any flatbed scanner, the LiDE 100 is theoretically suitable for all purpose use. The software it comes with focuses primarily on photos, however, which effectively makes it a photo scanner unless you buy (or already have) additional programs. In that context, the 2,400 pixel per inch (ppi) optical resolution is overkill far beyond anything you need for scanning photos, unless you plan to enlarge a small part of a photo.

Aside from Twain and WIA drivers, which will let the scanner work with almost any Windows software that includes a scan command, the only programs bundled with the LiDE 100 are ArcSoft Photo Studio 5.5 and Canon's MP Navigator EX scan utility. MP Navigator EX includes an optical character recognition (OCR) feature that can turn a scanned text document into a searchable PDF file, but it's well short of a full featured OCR program.

The utility's main purpose is to scan and send the results to various destinations ranging from files to email attachments. It also offers its own set of photo related features for enhancing scanned photos. Setting up the LiDE 100 is easy: Install the software, and plug in the USB cable that comes with the scanner. You don't even need to plug in a power cord, since the scanner gets power over the USB cable.

It installed the scanner on a Windows XP system. According to Canon, the installation disc also includes drivers and a full set of software for Vista, Windows 2000, and Mac OS 10.3.9 through 10.5.x. Using the scanner is almost as easy as setting it up, with several options for giving a scan command. The obvious choice is to press one of the four buttons on the front panel Copy, Email, PDF, or Scan.

You can also choose from a similar set of options in one of the MP Navigator EX screens, or you can manually choose a document type (color photo, black and white photo, color document, black and white document, magazine, or text), optionally change the resolution or other settings, and then start the scan. By default, the scan is fully automatic, not even stopping to show a preview. If you want some control over the settings, however, a check box lets you tell the utility to launch the Twain driver so you can preview and adjust settings before the actual scan.

The driver itself lets you choose between scanning in Fully Automatic mode equivalent to a point and shoot mode in a camera Basic mode with just a few options, or an Advanced mode that lets you control such settings as black point, white point, saturation, and color balance. The driver also provides several digital enhancement options that make it easy to improve on the original.

A color restore feature, for example, did a good job on my tests of reviving colors in faded photos. Similarly, a dust and scratch removal feature did a reasonably good job of removing dust specks. The feature doesn't do much for scratches, but that's expected. If you need scratch removal that really works, you need to invest in a much more expensive scanner with hardware based Digital ICE.

Probably the most impressive enhancement feature in the driver is its backlight correction, a convenience that Canon scan drivers have offered for some time. Take an indoor picture of a person standing in front of a window, for example, and the face may come out as a dark silhouette against a bright background. With backlight correction, you can bring out the details in the foreground simply by turning the feature on.

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