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October 15th, 1999


Agfa SnapScan 1212u
Contact and Other Information
Manufacturer: Agfa
Product Info: Agfa SnapScan 1212u
Description: USB Flatbed Scanner
Address: 100 Challenger Road
Ridgefield Park, NJ 07660
Price: $119.95 at Outpost.com
Telephone: 201.440-2500
Fax: 201.440-5733
Requirements G3 or better processor (including iMacs and PowerMac models)
16 MB of RAM
Mac OS 8.0 or later
CD-ROM drive
One available USB port

System Used For Testing Power Mac G3 All-in-one 233MHz
ADS Technologies USB card
MacAlly iHub
Review

Agfa SnapScan 1212u Brings Easy Scanning To Your USB Mac
by Michael Munger

The Agfa SnapScan 1212u is a USB flatbed scanner. It is mostly recommended for home use and maybe small business. The first thing you notice when you open the box is the dual Macintosh and Windows 98 support. Nothing mentionned about earlier versions of Windows. This is interesting if you own a PC besides your Mac and need to scan images to use on a PC. Agfa claims that its color capture is 36-bit and reaches over 68 billion colors. Its plate takes up to 600 (horizontal) x 1200 (vertical) in resolution and scans up to 9600 DPI. It ships with ScanWise, the Color It! image editor, and OmniPage LE. The latter is for text recognition.

Installation

This scanner is easy to install. First, you plug the USB cable from the scanner to the USB port of the hub. Second, plug the AC adapter to power. Then, insert the ScanWise CD-ROM and install the drivers and the scanning software. Once you are done, a library folder lands in your Extensions folder along with an extension. A quick restart and you can use your new scanner.

The Looks

Well, this scanner is a nice companion to a bondi blue iMac or a Blue and White G3. Its exterior features translucent Bondi Blue plastics, and when you take a look at it (see the photo above), you can enjoy the fact that the beige days are over with. Hint: shut the lights and scan a few photos. While doing so, take a look at your scanner. It is lovely... technology that glows in the dark reminds you that the futurist days you imagined are now the present.

Scanning Software And Using The Scanner

An interesting feature is that when you start up your computer, the scanner takes the signal from your USB port and warms up. If you do not intend to scan anything in this computer session, you just have to press the sleep button and the scanner will only wake up if you launch ScanWise.

The SnapScan 1212u features ScanWise as its scanning application. When you look at the whole box and package, you sense that the Agfa folks show enthusiasm about this software. Are they right? Yes. ScanWise works very well and mostly, it is easy to figure out. A major flaw is the interface (see screen shot below). It tastes like Windows because it bypasses the Mac OS Appearance Manager and draws most of its elements -- except for pop-up menus and some buttons -- all by itself. This is too bad, because the overall port from Windows does not cause problems. It comes in 6 different languages.

ScanWise divides your scanning job into four parts. The first one (after you did the preview) is to choose the Original Type, which is the material you take your picture from. It can handle different types of photos (matte or glossy), newsprint, magazine print, text (!) if you install OmniPage LE, artwork, inkjet print, and other types of print. ScanWise will reproduce the colors accurately when you select a type.


The ScanWise Interface
(Click for a larger image)
The second step is to choose your destination, which means where your image will go. It can be a file, a Photoshop window, AppleWorks, Word, SimpleText, your fax, printer, clipboard, an e-mail message or a Web image. There is a large and handy list of options. I had the opportunity to scan a confidential (and urgent) report for work and send it as a fax through my modem. I was quite skeptical about the quality, based on my previous experience from "scanner to fax", but in this case, it worked very well. Selecting GlobalFax in the Chooser was the first thing to do. Then I scanned, it sent me right to my fax software, and all I had to do was to hit send once I had chosen a recipient. The link between ScanWise and fax software occured without effort. For each Destination, you can select default properties by double-clicking on each and making your choices. For Photoshop, you can specify the resolution, what folder to save the file in, what image format and if you want a color profile in your image. Handy!

The third step is "Image Control". This lets you choose if your image is line art, color or grayscale. Then you can adjust your brightness, contrast and saturation.

The final step before scanning is the Dimensions. You select your scale (from 10% to 800%), your size in different units like inches, pixels, centimeters or millimeters. Then, you can modify the resolution, up to 9600 DPI. Below all of this, there is a "Scanned Image File" feature that tells you how much disk space your image will take. After this, hit scan and let the SnapScan do the job. Interesting note: the scanner is nearly silent. This is very nice in a work environment.

ScanWise offers you a Guide Me button that helps you to scan your images if you are just starting to learn about scanners. Handy for the beginners, and a good reminder if you want to make sure to remember everything.

Documentation

This is the weakest part of the product. The booklet provides the installation instructions and the other documents give you phone numbers and upgrade information, but this is all you get. I would have expected a solid introduction to scanning for beginners, but there was nothing. Not even on the ScanWise CD. The Guide Me feature is your only way to learn how to scan. You cannot sit at a table and take the time to read about it. Nothing tells you what the DPI resolutions mean, so a beginner will have no idea of what to choose and how it will affect the image's quality.

Conclusion

Around the $120-130 price range, the Agfa SnapScan 1212u gives you a lot of bang for your buck and is the perfect digital imaging companion of its class for any computer equipped with USB ports. It is an excellent scanner, ideal for home use.


Final Score (Maximum score is 5 Gadgies)
4 Gadgies
Pros Simple installation
Efficient software
Lots of scanning options
Very affordable
Works in silence
Cons Weak documentation
ScanWise's "Windowsish" interface



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