Hot on the heels of the Epson Perfection V700 and V750, which lured customers with the promise of not one but two lenses (reviewed by PC Advisor's sister website Digit here and here), comes this ambitious six-colour scanner from HP.
Whereas scanners generally work with one lamp, the HP comes with two for handling different colour spectra. Consequently, it can supposedly capture a much wider range of colours than standard three-colour models. The colour depth of 96bit is twice that of the Epson models.
However, the number of colours isn't everything, and the HP lags behind the Epson's when it comes to optical resolutions, offering just 4,800dpi rather than the Epsons' 6,400dpi. Partly as a result of this, the Epsons managed to pack more detail into their film scans.
We also had problems with the G4050's design. You can't clip 35mm slides into the division tray. Instead, you must place the tray on the glass and then drop in the slides. Unfortunately, it's very difficult to avoid putting fingerprints on your slides or the glass. The HP is considerably better at handling reflective media, and the flexible but sturdy lid keeps media firmly in place.
The software isn't a total success. It's slightly fiddly to use, and the bundle would be considerably improved by the inclusion of SilverFast. Neither was the dust- and scratch-removal technology the best we'd seen. Indeed, the Epson V700 and V750 again produced better results with our test pictures. Scanning wasn't particularly fast - requiring more than two hours to scan a full set of 16 35mm slides at 4,800dpi using dust and scratch removal - but this was a rather demanding workload.
But to carp about such performance is to miss the crucial point about the HP. For while it lags a little behind the Epson scanners in terms of features, it's considerably better value for money.