This review appears in the December 06 issue of PC Advisor, available now in all good newsagents. The price, scores, specifications and picture to the right are for the Epson Perfection V350 Photo; to see details of the Canon CanoScan 8600F, kindly click here.

Canon's £149 CanoScan 8600F and the £99 Epson Perfection V350 Photo provide excellent tools for creating high-quality scanned images, even from bad originals. Both of these flatbed models are worthwhile, but those seeking faster performance and greater versatility will find the Canon worth the extra money.

Both units scan photos and film at a maximum optical resolution of 4,800dpi, feature easy-to-use push buttons and come with assorted software for image editing, OCR (optical character recognition) and other scanning tasks.

The sleek 8600F is bundled with a strong choice of software, and features Canon's impressive Fare (Film Automatic Retouching and Enhancement) Level 3 technology, which helps to correct the effects of dust, scratches and fading. The unit performed admirably in scanning both 35mm slides and photo prints, accurately reproducing colours with fine details in shadows and highlights.

The V350 also earned good scores for image quality, producing colourful scans with sharp, accurate details. The software does a decent job of removing defects without losing image elements you want to keep. The V350, however, was not as good as the 8600F at cleaning up dirty film.

Despite the lower price tag, there are some areas in which the Epson beats the Canon. If you have stacks of 35mm film strips that you want to digitise, the V350 is the better choice, thanks to its easy-to-use automatic film loader, which can scan strips from two to six frames in length. For 35mm slides, though, the 8600F is more productive, because it can scan up to four slides at a time; the V350 can handle two.

Both scanners performed well at digitising paper documents and turning pages into PDFs or editable text files. However, the 8600F has more scan-to-PDF push buttons than the V350, and we appreciated the convenience. Perhaps unsurprisingly in light of the price difference, the 8600F was faster: it scanned a 2x2in colour photo (at 1,200dpi) in 23 seconds, while the V350 took 36 seconds to complete the task.

Canon CanoScan 8600F: Specs

  • 4800 x 9600dpi, 48 bit colour depth
  • CCD
  • max media 216 x 297 mm
  • FAU - 6 x 35mm film strip and 4 x 35mm slides
  • fast scan engine
  • QARE Level 3 dust/scratch removal from photos
  • comprehensive software package
  • USB 2.0
  • fast multi-photo mode
  • 287x472x124mm
  • 4.2 kg System requirements: Windows 2000/Me/XP - Pentium III - 566 MHz - RAM 128 MB (Hi-Speed USB), Windows 98/2000/Me/XP - Pentium II - 300 MHz - RAM 128 MB (USB), Mac OS X - PowerPC G3 - RAM 256 MB (Hi-Speed USB)
  • 4800 x 9600dpi, 48 bit colour depth
  • CCD
  • max media 216 x 297 mm
  • FAU - 6 x 35mm film strip and 4 x 35mm slides
  • fast scan engine
  • QARE Level 3 dust/scratch removal from photos
  • comprehensive software package
  • USB 2.0
  • fast multi-photo mode
  • 287x472x124mm
  • 4.2 kg System requirements: Windows 2000/Me/XP - Pentium III - 566 MHz - RAM 128 MB (Hi-Speed USB), Windows 98/2000/Me/XP - Pentium II - 300 MHz - RAM 128 MB (USB), Mac OS X - PowerPC G3 - RAM 256 MB (Hi-Speed USB)

OUR VERDICT

The 8600F is one-and-a-half times the cost of the V350, but its versatility, speed and software bundle just about merits the difference. However, the V350 is excellent value for money, and its film loader makes it a worthwhile alternative.

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