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Features List 13
From CAD User AEC Magazine Vol 17 No 11 - NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2004
Colortrac’s stylish, new and easy to use, large format scanners break the £5000 barrier for A0+ colour scanners
Hardware costs appear to be tumbling in all sectors of the industry – PC,
workstations, laptops, printers and so on. The area that seems to be most
resistant to the trend, however, is large format scanners – until now! The cost
of buying an A0 scanner, especially colour, has put off many of the smaller
architectural practices – forcing them to use alternative, expensive, resources
for their scanning and archiving requirements – or to cut back on their scanning
activities altogether. A shame, really, as the advantages of being able to
digitise, archive, distribute electronically and re-use old documents are well
Architects and GIS professional can now re-think their scanning strategies, as Colortrac has just released a new range of innovative large format scanners, that bring the price point below £5000 – for an A0+ colour scanner! The SmartLF range will be distributed in the UK by Allied Images, and, according to Steve Morin, Allied Images’ MD, they will “have considerable impact on the market by creating opportunities for customers who previously were prohibited from owning a scanner due to high prices”. He believes that the SmartLF will significantly increase the size of the scanner market in the UK and greatly broaden the customer base.
The price breakthrough has been achieved by using 400dpi deep focus contact image sensors (CIS), a technology that also enables the scanners to be used almost straight from a cold start – with only a minimal warm-up or stabilisation period of 6 seconds required, unlike some CCD devices that need a couple of hours to warm up – enhancing its productivity and reducing its operating costs. Enhancing its usability, as well – (how often would you take the car down to the local shops if you had to wait a couple of hours for it to warm up!). Productivity is further improved by eliminating the need for re-stitching or re-calibration after the scanner has been switched on, as it has factory set colour calibration and fully automatic sensor alignment – hence the name – SmartLF!
Being instantly available, the scanners can be switched off when not required, and consume about the tenth of the power of a CCD scanner. There are no light sources – fluorescent tubes – that need changing, either.
There are three scanners – and a number of software solutions – in the range, allowing users to specify exactly the type of system that they require – from B/W to colour and enhanced colour, the latter two capable of being upgraded from B/W in the field. The upgrade process is simplicity itself – users
Resolutions range from 100dpi, up to a maximum of 2400dpi, providing, extra sharp accuracy for fine image detail. The SmartLF is no slouch, either, being able to scan at a speed of 10.1 inches per second (at 200dpi) in black and white, and 3.36 ips in colour.
SmartLF scanners are available in 44” width – maximum image width is 40” – with optical resolution of 400 dpi in monochrome, colour and enhanced colour. The scanners are supplied, ready-to-run, with SmartLF software that provides all the basic functions for archiving, copying or emailing large format documents as easily and efficiently as possible in a single application, and if the scanner pC is connected to a large format printer, as well, the user has a digital plan copier to hand.
The performance of the scanner can be improved even further, so that it can be used by professional imaging specialists, by installing more powerful software tools, available from Colortrac and third party software suppliers.
Mounted on its stand, the SmartLF scanner is compact enough to fit in any confined space, measuring just 95cm in height, 139cm wide and 55cm deep. Moving it about wouldn’t tax anybody, as well, as it weighs in at a mere 36Kg. It’s easy to use, as well – with documents being fed in from the front over a gently curved feed tray – using optical sensors to ensure correct positioning, rapid auto size detection using improved techniques that work in-line as the image is scanned. The scanner's side justified, straight through media path, transports originals through the scanner at 0.1% +/- 1 pixel accuracy.
The media is held in place by precision and high grip contour rollers. The pressure applied by the rollers is pre-compressed for standard usage, ensuring that the best possible contact is maintained to produce sharp, accurate scans, but which can gradually be adjusted to cater for delicate media – such as badly dog-eared or flimsy originals. The scanner can either be used as a desktop scanner, or mounted on an optional stand, adjustable to suit the users height.
Maintenance is simple. Besides its lack of fluorescent tubes, the scan glass itself is chemically treated for high impact and scratch resistance, and can be cleaned very easily after the grip roller cover has been opened.
In keeping with its simple operation, the software supplied with the scanner is designed to be user-friendly. All a user has to do is to select file, copy or e-mail, the type of original that is to be scanned, select a couple fo other intuitive settings, and the place the original in the scanner to complete the job! As it is scanned, the image is displayed on the screen – in exactly the same way that inexpensive flatbed scanners operate. The panel on the scanner can be sued to select between the different modes, and,once selected, originals can be fed, one after the other, until the whole job is completed.
There are some other software utilities available, developed by Colortrac, for enhancing the operation of the scanner. ScanWorks incorporates additional image enhancement filters, image manipulation functions and a high productivity batch scanning mode, amongst other features designed to enhance the scanners performance, and the quality of the images being digitally captured.
ISIS ~ (Image & Scanner Interface Specification) is an industry standard that establishes performance levels of high-speed document scanners that are connected to electronic document management (EDM) systems. Colortrac’s ISIS drivers are tested and certified to be ISIS compliant, and access the scanner directly to provide the flexibility of choice benefits of non-proprietary solutions.
SmartLF scanners can be used as part of a professional scan to copy, print from file, reproduction solution, provided the scanner’s PC is also connected to a large format printer. It uses a software utility called CopySmart which creates a multi-function scan / copy / print system. Designed with simplicity as a primary objective,CopySmart has a graphical user interface adopting a 'big button' philosophy. It ensures consistent colour quality from the scanner though to the printer, enabling the printer to produce an accurate reproduction of fine image detail, by using IT8 closed loop calibration. With CopySmart, Colortrac driven printers, such as the SmartLF range, can be optimized to produce fast, multi-copy high quality prints direct from the scanner or from saved image files.
Another software tool that can be used with the scanners, is Preditor, used for image editing applications and professional raster editing. Preditor allows users to edit large colour, greyscale and b/w images. It includes image clean up utilities, including extensive 2D area thresholding, and selective area thresholding for skew, de-speckle ad hole fill. It also includes basic drawing functions.
Colortrac has a programme for testing and approving third party software solutions for scanners – called CLASP – Colortrac Ltd Approved Software Product – evidence of tis commitment to producing professional scanning solutions, and to ensue compatibility, functionality and performance with all of its scanners.
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