It’s amazing how quickly manufacturers abandon support for older hardware devices. This is nowhere more evident than when it comes to scanners. The gradual shift from 32- to 64-bit computing threatens to leave even more perfectly serviceable scanners in the box marked “obsolete”, but there may be a future for your old machine yet – at a cost.
VueScan works with just about every computer out there, supporting Linux, Mac and all versions of Windows up to Windows 7. More importantly, it supports 1,500 flatbed and film scanners, even if drivers are no longer available for the computer you’re running. Consequently, it enables you to dust down your trusty old scanner and continue using it despite the manufacturer’s attempts to force an upgrade.
It’s incredibly simple to use, with a neat wizard-based approach to scanning for the novice, and an Advanced button for those with a bit more experience. The results are impressive, and it’s worth considering even if your scanner is currently supported by Windows. You can output to JPEG, TIF, PDF and even access OCR-capabilities for extracting text from scanned images – English is provided by default, download other language files from here. VueScan can also output your scan directly to your printer, effectively turning your existing equipment into a serviceable photocopying machine.
The trial version is fully functional, although watermarks are placed across any scanned images, so you’ll have to buy it before you can get the most out of it. A four-computer licence costs US$40 for the Standard Edition, or US$80 for the Professional Edition.
Version 9 introduces both 32- and 64-bit builds, and promises to be faster and more responsive than previous versions. The user interface has also been revamped to make it easier to use, giving up more screen space for the scanner preview and consists of a single file, which can be copied on to USB flash drive for running as a portable application if you wish.