Test Three: Colour scan
How do our six scanners handle a MacFormat cover?
Full marks for the Epson Perfection V500 Photo here. It got the contrast just right, with beautifully rich colours that were neither too light nor too dark. Its white space was clearly defined, and totally black areas crisp and well realised. Perhaps the masthead could've been a little sharper, though the barcode was nice and solid.
Its sister device, the V300, was only slightly behind. The Canon CanoScans were very clear and crisp with fine details excellently reproduced, but they were ever so slightly washed out, the LiDE 200 more so than the 5600F. Nothing that's beyond a little tweaking, but just enough to keep them behind the Epsons.
The HP Scanjets performed less well. The G2710 gave the white area behind our logo a distinctly blue hue, and the G3110's results looked a little tired and subdued. Again, a little clever editing could bring them up to standard but they simply weren't as solid as the other scanners.
Test Four: Design & features
What do our scanners offer beyond basic scanning?
The Canon CanoScan LiDE 200 was the smallest and lightest of the scanners on offer, and powered solely through its USB port with no power cable needed. It's thin and light enough for your laptop bag, and even has a stand to position it in a near-vertical orientation, though it's the only scanner on test that can't scan transparencies.
Its stablemate, the CanoScan 5600F, offered the most buttons for one-touch access to regularly used features. You can scan to print, email, copy and create PDFs.
The Epson Perfection V500 Photo comes bundled with ABBYY FineReader 5.0 Sprint Plus OCR application and some impressive tools for correcting and enhancing scanned photos and film. Unfortunately, the build quality of both the Epsons was a little below par. Not terrible, just a little less robust than the others.
The Scanjet G2710 has a gorgeous clear Perspex trim, though the software for both of the HP scanners was awkward to use.
The Winner / Canon CanoScan LiDE 200
Canon's CanoScan LiDE 200 gives a little bit more than the rest. Canon's LiDE (LED Indirect Exposure) system places the sensor and the light source very close together, making it both space and energy efficient.
The result? A scanner that's small and light enough to carry around with your laptop, and which draws both power and data through a single USB connection. You can even use the stand to mount it in a near-vertical position, if you really needed to.
Transportability is not at the expense of image quality either. It offered excellent results in both our scanning tests, though it can't scan transparencies. If this feature is important to you, perhaps you should try the Epson Perfection V500 Photo instead.