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Microtek ArtixScan M1 Pro

>> Friday, January 9, 2009

Despite the M1's focus on photos, you can use it for all purpose scanning like any flatbed scanner. With that in mind, Microtek includes a Twain driver, so you can scan from most Windows programs. You also get an optical character recognition (OCR) program, Abbyy FineReader 6.0 Sprint, to convert the scanned image to editable text.

The process of scanning for OCR is a little clumsy, both because an automatic document feeder is lacking and because the scan driver is designed primarily for photos. The results, on the other hand, were more than acceptable. On my tests, the scanner recognized Times New Roman text as small as 8 points, as well as Arial text as small as 6 points, without a mistake. All the other software that comes with the M1 deals with photos.

The bundle includes Adobe Photoshop Elements for photo editing InterVideo MediaOne Gallery for enhancing, managing, and sharing photos and two scan utilities Microtek's own ScanWizard Pro and Lasersoft's SilverFast Ai Studio, a high end scanning program.

Both utilities allow color calibration, and the scanner comes with two calibration scan targets one for reflective scans and one for positive transparencies.

Installing and setting up the M1 (6.1 by 15.2 by 22.3 inches, HWD) is easy. Just remove the packing materials, unlock the scan head, and plug in the USB cable and power cord.

Installing the software should normally be just as easy. In theory, you only have to run an automated installation program from each of three discs provided. I ran into a minor problem with one of the installation routines freezing up, but I eventually managed to get everything installed.

I tested the scanner with Windows XP. According to Microtek, all of the software and drivers also work with Windows 2000 and Vista. All except MediaOne Gallery are compatible with Mac OS X 10.3 and 10.4 as well. Setting up the M1 for scanning film is easier than with most flatbed scanners.

The scanner comes with film holders for 35mm slides (up to 12 at a time), 35mm film (up to four strips of six frames each), 6cm film (one strip), and 4 by 5 inch film (up to two photos). To scan, you put the film into the appropriate film holder, then drop the film holder onto a tray that slides into the front of the scanner, much like a paper drawer sliding into a laser printer. In addition, there's a second tray with an 8.5 by 10.3 inch glass plate that can hold any size of film up to 8 by 10 inches.


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