Written on: 23/02/2003 by Erik Smith.
Legal-size scanning bed, good image quality, adequate software.
Slow speed. Also SCSI card required, and in modern systems that means a new card must be purchased. Provided software is not compatible with Windows XP, though Umax now has a new version of the software that is compatible with XP, for a small charge.
The Umax 1200S is sort of a perplexing machine. I've had it since it was new, and much though I'd like to upgrade and save the space this thing takes up, it's much too good to junk. The thing worth noting here, five years after I bought the thing, is that it provides better image quality than many of the lower-level scanners on the market today. I was so satisfied with the image quality on this scanner, for instance, that I decided to buy another Umax unit -- the 4400. But when I compared scans made by the two machines, the old scanner made images so much better than the new one that there really wasn't any comparison at all. I called the Umax tech support line, and the tech told me that I'd be a fool to replace the 1200S, that it was a much better machine, and that scanners just aren't what they used to be.
So here's the thing. It's 2003, the 1200S is obsolete as the do-do bird, and it operates at a snail's pace by comparison with modern scanners. But if you want to pick up a used scanner with good image quality, and you're not really concerned about the speed of operation, or you need a backup scanner with legal-size capability, you can pick up one of these babies used on eBay for about $10. To make it work in a modern computer, you'll need a new SCSI card, because the original card was ISA, and most modern computers do not have ISA slots. With a SCSI-2 card, an adapter for the SCSI-1 plug, and a modern computer, the speed of this scanner will double, though it's still not up to current speed standards. The main drawback is that the new card and adapter cost me $35, and, well, that's about the third of the cost of a good modern unit (if you're a good shopper).
So the bottom line is that the scanner makes sense primarily if you need legal-size capability, something most scanners today do not provide. But the scans are surprisingly good, and they certainly are better than the ones you get with today's bottom-of-the-line machines.
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