Scanners are inexpensive but they do take up space on your desktop and you need room for opening the cover to place or remove an object.
1) Before you buy a scanner, decide what you want it for: all
text from most sources, photos, slides, negatives, filmstrips -- or for
specialized use only, such as a slide scanner or a handheld scanner for
or magazines, to be used with a very steady hand or a guide rail.
Flatbed scanners are multi-purpose: all can do text as well as
can handle slides, negatives and filmstrips in addition.
2) Many scanners work with both PCs and Macs but you must know what operating system and ports you have, e.g. USB or USB 2 or a SCSI card. Many scanners for PCs require Windows 98 SE (Second Edition) or later editions of Windows.
3) If true color is important to you, you also need to buy fairly
for color calibration.
Scanner brands I like and buy, based on lab test results in PC
OCR (Optical Character
Recognition) software for TEXT: remember that
scanner produces a digitized image and that the software then needs to
image into readable text. Do you have trouble deciphering people's
Yes, so please have patience with the poor OCR software that needs to
differentiate between i,l,1,!, or g and q. The first few pages you scan
"training" sessions for the software; afterwards, spellcheck your
text in your favorite word processor and watch out for possible
especially with the letters shown above.
The Professional packages I
a. CAERE Omnipage Pro for many languages: select, e.g., US English or Spanish or French; the software will use the corresponding dictionary, recognize words or flag unrecognized ones.
b. XEROX Textbridge Pro: this is excellent and very accurate for English language texts.
A) Affordable packages (about
$100), very good:
a. Ulead PhotoImpact -- search for this on the web and buy it online; newer and less expensive than PaintShopPro and with more capability (about $80)
b. Jasc PaintShopPro -- search for this on the web and buy it online: for downloading or as a boxed set CD and a manual (about $90)
c. Adobe Photo Elements, a lighter version of Photoshop.
B) Expensive packages, for heavy
serious duty professional use, with a steep
learning curve, overkill for most of us:
d. CorelDraw -- judged to be the best package on the market
e. Adobe Photoshop -- popular especially among Mac users, sort of coasting on its reputation. Talk to someone in the bookstore about the academic/educational version prices if you really need this.