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Visioneer Strobe XP 220

>> Friday, January 9, 2009

What makes the XP 220 special among small scanners is the Kofax Virtual ReScan (VRS) module that's integrated into the driver. "Virtual rescan" is a clever way of describing digital enhancement, which can turn a literally unreadable scanned image into an easily readable one. Highlighted text, for example, may show as solid black on a scan. Digital enhancement can find the text.

Having VRS in a $300 scanner is a big deal. Until recently, it was available only for document scanners with prices ranging from relatively expensive to astronomical. Then in January Visioneer announced that it would include an integrated version of VRS in selected drivers, with an upgrade to an integrated version of VRS Professional available for $295. The XP 220 is Visioneer's first portable scanner with VRS included.

The XP 220 isn't the smallest sheet fed scanner you can find. In particular, it's noticeably larger than the Plustek M12 Corporate, the current Editors' Choice in this category. The M12 is roughly the size of a stack of ten one foot rulers and weighs less than a pound. The XP 220 is a bit larger, closer in size to a hoagie (aka a grinder or submarine sandwich, depending on what part of the country you're from) at 2 by 11 by 2.5 inches (HWD), and noticeably heavier, at 1.5 pounds.

The size and weight don't rule out the XP 220 as a portable scanner, but they make it a little less portable than it could be. So does the way that it connects. Most portable scanners, including the M12 Corporate, get all their power over the USB cable. The XP 220 has a combined power cord and USB cable with three connectors that plug into a power outlet, a computer USB port, and the scanner.

The combined cable is less elegant to set up repeatedly with a notebook than a simple USB cable. Worse, the scanner uses a DIN connector, with pins that are much too easy to accidentally bend when you're plugging it in. (I've run into this situation far too often with DIN connectors and recovered from it only by judicious use of needle nose pliers.) Repeatedly disconnecting and reconnecting the cable virtually guarantees that you'll eventually bend a pin and wind up with a non functioning scanner.

Except for the funky cable, setup is standard fare, requiring only that you install the software and connect the hardware. The scanner is small enough to sit between your keyboard and monitor, if you like. The input slot is high enough to let you reach over the keyboard to feed paper easily. You can set the scanner for either a straight through path or a curved path that pushes each page up and in front of the monitor.

A nice touch is that you can set the driver to start a scan automatically when you feed paper into the slot. The software that comes with the XP 220 is a well chosen selection for office use, including ScanSoft PaperPort 11 for document management, ScanSoft OmniPage Pro 14 for optical character recognition, and X1 Enterprise Client 5.6.2 for indexing files for easy retrieval.


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