UMax Unveils Two Low-Cost Scanners

SAN FRANCISCO (06/13/2000) - Just days after Visioneer Inc. announced a low-cost flatbed scanner that captures 42-bit color at 600 by 1200 dots per inch, archrival Umax Technologies Inc. is announcing a flatbed with the same specs in the same price range.

Umax's Astra 3400 lists for $99 and, unlike Visioneer's 6200USB, Umax's scanner can send all 42 bits of color (14 bits per channel) to your PC--if your software can handle the enormous 42-bit files. The Visioneer 6200USB distills captured color down to 36 bits, or 12 bits per channel, and most consumer-level software strips out color depth above 8 bits per channel.

The Astra 3400 has several buttons, each for sending scans to a specific function. You can send files to an OCR package to convert scanned documents into editable text or to a printer for making copies. You can send scanned files to e-mail or document-archiving software. You can also reassign the buttons to other applications.

Sibling Due in July

Another new Umax scanner, the Astra 3450, is scheduled to ship in early July.

It is identical to the 3400 but includes a transparency adapter; the 3450 lists for $149. A document feeder is not available for either model.

Like Visioneer, Umax has rounded up quite a bundle of software. Both the 3400 and 3450 come with Adobe Systems Inc.'s PhotoDeluxe Home Edition for photo editing; Caere Corp.'s OmniPage LE OCR; and two packages from NewSoft. You get Presto PageManager document-archiving utility and Presto PageType for scanning preprinted forms and filling them out on-screen.

The Astra's lid comes off to accommodate large or odd-size objects, and you can set up the scanner to automatically recognize and crop the scan area, rotate a skewed document back to true color. Its USB connection is "hot-pluggable"--that is, you can connect or disconnect it without shutting down your system.

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