Umax Astra 1200s Review

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Erik Smith.'s review of Umax Astra 1200s

★★★★☆
Umax Astra 1200s

“The Umax 1200S is sort of a perplexing machine. I've...”

Written on: 23/02/2003 by Erik Smith. (1 review written)

Good Points
Legal-size scanning bed, good image quality, adequate software.

Bad Points
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.

General Comments
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 It's 2003, the 1200S is obsolete as the do-do bird, and it operates at a snail's pace by comparison with modern scanners.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.
Erik Smith

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116641_Phil.'s Response to Erik Smith.'s Review

Written on: 18/07/2003

DO U KNOW WHERE I GET PCI CARD FOR UMAX ASTRA 1200S

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116809_Erik Smith.'s Response to Erik Smith.'s Review

Written on: 18/07/2003

Basically, any PCI SCSI card will work with this machine. Nowadays all PCI SCSI cards seem to be set up for SCSI-2, and the machine requires a SCSI-1 cable, but you can get an adapter that will allow you to plug a SCSI-1 cable into a SCSI-2 card.
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<br>Some tweaking may be neccessary to make such a SCSI card work in a typical system, because the card that I purchased and the "sound blaster emulation" component of my sound card both insisted on using IRQ 5. I don't know if this is true for all SCSI cards, but man, what a headache!
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<br>However, let me add something to this review that may change your perspective on the matter. Since I posted it, the world has moved on, and now there are better-quality USB scanners available for about $50 -- little more than the cost of the SCSI card and adapter (which cost me about $40). The scanners in the Epson 1200 and 1600 series are available as remanufactured units on eBay right now (July 2003) for about $50-$70. Images are much sharper than the UMAX 1200S, even when the same dpi resolution is used; the available dpi resolution is higher; the colors are truer to the original; the machines are faster (and if you spring for the 1660U, around $110 for remanufactured, $150 new, you get a 35 mm film adapter and fast USB 2.0 speed). So now there really is no reason to retain a UMAX 1200S if you have to buy a new card in order to make it work -- unless you absolutely have to have the legal-size capability, which the Epson lacks.
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<br>Frankly, my opinion on the 1200S has changed, and I have to say that it was a good scanner in its day, but its day now is done.
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<br>Hope this helps,
<br>
<br>Erik Smith
<br>Whittier, CA

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