Consumer Reports: Super Scanner

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If you enjoy taking pictures you probably know photos should be stored in a cool, dry, well-ventilated place. But, when it comes to boxes of old family photos that's not where they usually end up. A photo scanner can help you save treasured snapshots both old and new. Consumer Reports just tested nearly a dozen.

Marcy Hiller loves emailing pictures to friends and family. She got a scanner so she could send pictures she takes with her traditional film camera.

But, when she put her current pictures in a digital library she realized it was a good way to save her childhood memories as well.

"It's a great way to preserve old family pictures, ones that are deteriorating and to keep them for posterity."

Scanners allow you to convert a traditional photo into a digital file.

Consumer Reports' Kerry Allen, just tested 10 scanners, including Canons, HPs and Epsons, ranging from 70 dollars to 230. The least expensive have a maximum scan rate of 600 dots per inch, or D-P-I . . . the most expensive . . . 2400 DPI.

First, testers looked at picture quality. Kerry scanned pictures in from 150 to 2,400 DPI.

"The lower resolution is not as clear, whereas the higher resolution is much clearer."

All the scanners did well with the photos at 600 D-P-I. If you're scanning something more elaborate you'll need a higher resolution.

"The 1200 and 24 dot per inch scanners are good for sketches, line art, drawing, things that you just want a little more boost on the edges."

Kerry also tested the scanners for speed. Scanners, like computers, have gotten much quicker.

When all the testing was done Consumer Reports found a good scanner from Canon. It's the CanoScan LiDE 20 (rhymes with hide) for eighty dollars. It's compact and easy-to-use.

And if, like Marcy, you've got lots of picture you want to digitize you'll find the Canon delivers high quality scans.

Consumer Reports recommends you scan photos in at the highest resolution you may need so you can save space on your computer. If you intend to print photos in their original size, testers found 300 DPI is fine. But, if you intend to double the size of a photo it is best to scan at 600 DPI.

View more Consumer Report stories here.

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