HP's ScanJet G4050 photo scanner offers a six-colour scanning process.

The theory behind this aspect of the HP ScanJet G4050 is that the usual source of white light used for scanning doesn't offer full-spectrum illumination, so a separate pass with a separate light source and some extra sensors can fill in the gaps and produce a more accurate result.

First impressions of the HP ScanJet G4050 are favourable. The ScanJet G4050 is stylish – although its sister product the ScanJet G4010 looks much cheaper – and the construction seems solid.

We tried the HP ScanJet G4050 with a variety of source materials, and it did well on both colour and black-and-white scans. The differences were most obvious with yellows, which can be slightly pale on conventional scanners and blues, which came through with a hint of extra impact. Photographers interested in black-and-white scanning can also benefit, with less evidence of subtle colour casts than usual.

So the technology is certainly solid, but HP seems to have dropped the ball with the HP ScanJet G4050 bundle as a whole.

The HP ScanJet G4050's drivers and software aren't models of clarity and conciseness, and it can take a while to work out what features are available and how to get them to work. This would almost be forgivable if it weren't for the HP ScanJet G4050's speed issues that appear at higher resolutions. If you want only quick 300dpi text or illustration scanning, the HP ScanJet G4050's speed is adequate. But once resolution starts to climb, scanning times get ever longer, especially if extras such as the hardware dust and scratch removal are enabled.

So although many people will be considering the HP ScanJet G4050 as a slide scanner, the reality is that the speed at any reasonable resolution – 4,800dpi optical or better – more or less guarantees that batch scanning isn't a practical proposition, especially not if you're in a hurry. This is a shame because the potential is certainly there with the HP ScanJet G4050, and it would be good to see it in a product with faster speeds and better slide ergonomics.

HP ScanJet G4050: Specs

  • 4,800x9,600dpi resolution flatbed scanner
  • 96-bit bit depth
  • fastest scan 8.5 seconds
  • USB 2.0
  • 216x311mm max scan size
  • 303x508x108 mm
  • 5.3kg
  • 1-year warranty
  • 4,800x9,600dpi resolution flatbed scanner
  • 96-bit bit depth
  • fastest scan 8.5 seconds
  • USB 2.0
  • 216x311mm max scan size
  • 303x508x108 mm
  • 5.3kg
  • 1-year warranty

OUR VERDICT

Good colour-quality but slow speeds make the HP ScanJet G4050 a more compelling proposition for those who occasionally need high-quality scans rather than for professional or semi-professional applications. At the price, there are alternatives that may not quite touch the colour quality, but offer better all-around value.

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