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Epson Perfection V350 Photo

>> Friday, January 9, 2009

The Epson Perfection V350 Photo ($149.99 direct) may not achieve the scanning perfection its name implies, but it does a fine (though slow) job of scanning photo prints. It can handle general purpose scanning and is clearly aimed at home use. One touch buttons let you copy (scan and print) and scan to email (attach the scan to an email message). But the V350 is really meant for people who are primarily interested in scanning photographic prints, with an occasional foray into 35mm slides and strips of film.

(Be sure to allocate plenty of time for the latter two tasks.) Setting up the V350 is standard fare install the software and plug everything in but the physical design is a bit peculiar and confused. This is because the lid and the connectors for the power and USB cables are designed to work with the scanner in a landscape orientation, but the buttons are placed for portrait style scanning.

The lid's hinges are attached along the scanner's long side, rather than the short side, as with most scanners. If you place the scanner so the lid opens to the side, the buttons will be on the front right.

The button labels and scanner name will be oriented correctly, reading from left to right. But the power and USB connectors will also be at front right, where the cables may get in the way.

Place the scanner so the lid lifts towards the back and the power and USB connectors will be in back, out of the way.

But the buttons will wind up in the rear, on the right, as well. You'll have trouble reaching them there if you're left handed and trouble reading the labels, as their text will be sideways, running from bottom to top. In addition, when you scan, you'll have to place photos and documents with the top of the page facing to the right instead of the top. Once I got past the initial design surprise, using the scanner was easy enough, thanks in large part to Epson's driver.

The V350 comes with Arcsoft PhotoImpression 5 for editing photos, FineReader Sprint 6.0 for recognizing text, and both Twain and WIA drivers so that you can scan from most programs that have a scan feature. Alternatively, you can press a button on the scanner to start a scan by calling up the Twain driver directly. The driver offers three modes. The default mode is fully automatic, much like a point and shoot camera, handling virtually all of the settings for you.

You can switch to Home mode and control a few settings, including adjusting brightness after a preview, or you can switch to Professional mode, which gives you much more control, with settings for color balance, saturation, and more. All three modes include options for software based dust removal and for restoring color to faded photographs both of which worked reasonably well on my tests.

The V350's strong suit is scanning photographic prints. All the scans in my tests were easily good enough for printing and handing out as snapshots, and should even satisfy a relatively serious amateur photographer. Skin tones were noticeably smoother than with the HP Scanjet G3010 Photo Scanner, an obvious competitor.


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