OneTouch 8600 scanner offers ease and sophistication

Scanners have long been the PC peripheral that brought out the worst in PC usability.

Scanners have long been the PC peripheral that brought out the worst in

PC usability. They historically have been tricky to install and configure.

Also, because scanners are used to perform a variety of tasks—from scanning

and recognizing documents to bringing in images—they need numerous software

applications to be installed and configured correctly. Scanners also need

the cooperation of other peripherals and subsystems, such as printers and

modems, to work seamlessly.

Scanner manufacturers seek to minimize these obstacles through a variety

of solutions, but the OneTouch family of scanners by Visioneer, a wholly-owned

subsidiary of Primax Electronics Ltd., comes the closest to delivering the

simplicity that users want. The $289 OneTouch 8600 is the newest, most sophisticated

member of the OneTouch family. It scans at 600 by 1,200 dots per inch maximum

resolution, with 36-bit color depth. It scans items only up to letter size,

but that covers most documents. The scanner is very compact and takes up

little desk space.

Like previous models, the OneTouch 8600 features buttons on the front that

launch automated scanning tasks. The original five buttons on OneTouch scanners

were Scan, Copy/Print, Fax, Custom and Stop. The 8600 has buttons for e-mail

and optical character recognition.

When a button is pressed, the scanner scans the document or photo in the

resolution and color depth most appropriate for the task selected and forwards

the image to the correct application to continue the process. Visioneer's

automation software proved to be very effective for pushing the job through

to completion.

A very useful Visioneer feature is its pre-scan process, during which the

scanner takes a quick look at the item to be scanned. After defining the

area it will scan, the OneTouch scans only that area, a big time saver.

An on-screen configuration utility enables users to tune each automated

task to their own needs, choosing the application that the scanner buttons

will launch, the color depth and resolution of scans for each task and any

other details relating to the specific job. The software chooses the settings

it thinks are best upon installation, but because the programmers don't

know customers' requirements, they made customizing the buttons as simple

as using them.

To launch a task and start scanning, users simply press the desired button.

The Copy/Print button works as simply as it should. Touch the button and

within seconds, a copy of the document churns out of the connected printer.

Black-and-white copies are much faster than color copies, but changing between

color and black-and-white modes is only a button press and a mouse click

away.

The OCR button works more seamlessly than users might believe possible,

after years of this technology failing to live up to its billing. Slide

a laser-printed document into the scanner, press the OCR button and the

OneTouch 8600 quickly scans the paper, converts it to text and then consults

the user on converted words that don't pass the spell checker. In our tests,

the OCR made no mistakes reading laser-printed documents.

The e-mail button similarly is simple to use. Like the copy button, it is

important that it be configured for the item being scanned, but switching

between black-and-white documents and color photos is very simple. The fax

button works pretty much the same way, but instead of sending the image

as an e-mail attachment, the OneTouch 8600 sends it using fax software on

the PC.

The Scan button launches Visioneer's PaperPort utility, which enables the

user to choose the type of document being scanned, the correct scanner settings

and the appropriate application to edit the image. A user-configurable Custom

button provides users with the ability to automate the use of an application

for some other task. In the world of custom-written software for federal

agencies, this button will enable agencies coordinate the scanner with forms-analysis

or other custom software.

Visioneer includes its PaperPort Deluxe document management software, ScanSoft

Inc.'s TextBridge Pro OCR 8.0 optical character recognition software, MGI

Software Corp.'s PhotoSuite II SE photo editing software and World Wide

Web publishing software with the OneTouch 8600. The company plans to offer

an optional automatic document feeder and a transparency adapter.

Carney is a free-lance writer based in Herndon, Va.

REPORT CARD

OneTouch 8600 scanner

Score: A

Visioneer

(888) 229-4172

www.visioneer.com

Price and Availability: Available on the the General Services Administration schedule for $289 at CDW Computer Centers Inc. Visit www.cdw.com or call (800) 447-4239.

Remarks: The OneTouch 8600 provides the simplest, fastest way to merge paper documents and photos into the digital world. The setup and operation are as easy as promised, with genuine one-touch execution of common tasks.

BY Dan Carney
Sept. 27, 1999

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