Scanjet 5500c (APF) -- Observations after scanning >1200 photos

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Gray M. Strickland

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Mar 17, 2003, 8:41:11 PM3/17/03
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After scanning more than 1,200 photos with a one-week old Scanjet 5500c, I
have noticed the following problems:

1. Every batch scan (i.e. group of photos, not individual photos) that you
run starts a new instance of the Gallery application (hpqptc08.exe),
although the task bar only indicates a single instance is running. However,
if you look at the "Processes" tab of the Taskmanager you will see multiple
instances running. I have found as many as three dozen instances of
hpqptc08.exe running and the CPU pegged at 100% activity. This is a bug. If
the list would permit me, I'd post a screen shot of taskmanager with dozens
of instances of hpqptc08.exe running.

2. If the Scanjet jams during a batch of photos, the contol softare displays
an error message **AND** loses communication of with the scanner which
requires at a minimum unplugging the scanner from power (the power button on
the scanner is unresponsive) and sometimes also a reboot of the pc.

3. Photo & Imaging Gallery (hpqptc08.exe) runs whenever you complete a scan
via the HP Director. When it runs, it always comes up in Thumbnail view by
default, but it does not save any thumbnails for future use. Therefore, as
soon as you complete the first batch scan after a reboot, you have to wait
forever while HP Photo & Imaging Gallery rebuilds thumbnails of all the
images in the target directory. If you have many, this can take a very long
time.

4. You should be able to scan without ever using / invoking / starting the
HP Photo & Imaging Gallery. If you know what you want (resolution, color
depth, file format) and where you want it, you shouldn't ever have to deal
with HP Photo & Imaging Gallery. You should be able to configure Director to
create the scans and save them without ever invoking Gallery (hpqptc08.exe).

5. HP Photo & Imaging Gallery (hpqptc08.exe)keeps switching back to
thumbnail view no matter how many times you set it to detail view. It's bad
enough that you can't keep this resource hogging kludgy app from running,
thumbnail view is inherently slower too.

6. Director won't permit you to pick your own file naming mask (something
other than "SCANxxxx") or your choice of starting number. Maybe you want
"MYCLIENTxxxx" and to start at 1,000 or any other number. It's a pain in the
ass to rename the files manually when this is important -- such as to make
the file numbers coincide with bar code numbers on the image being scanned.

7. You can set defaults for the Director soft (on-screen) "buttons" and you
can set the defaults for the physical buttons on the front panel of the
scanner, but you can't set them quite the same way. For example, you can
setup a soft button to scan without preview (in HP's prescan applet), but
you can't set the physical buttons to do that. This is BATCH SCANNING
DEVICE. I shouldn't have to preview any photo being scanned as part of a
batch if I don't want to.

8. You can tell the software to auto-crop or not to auto-crop, but you can't
fine tune it. After scanning over a thousand photos in the space of a week,
I can say that my unit is consistently omitting about 1/8" of one side of an
image and including 1/8" of the underside of the scan deck (i.e. beyond the
image border). Since when using the APF, scans go down the middle of the
glass, it shouldn't be such a big deal to be able to adjust through software
the default scan area for 4x6 and 3x5 photos. I really doubt that the auto
crop feature is using optical analysys to determine the image border -- if
it did, that would be really inefficient. I'm sure it's a fixed location, so
why not be able to use the software to tweak it? For that matter, I should
be able to set the default scan area for 4x6s to, say 4.25x6.25 if I wanted
to, as well as to adjust where it looks for the image.

9. The scanning software and scanner run less and less reliably the more
files are already in the target folder. Over 100 and you can't consistently
scan over 15 photos without crashes. Over 300 and you can't consistently
scan over 10. Over 400 and you can't consistently scan over 5. For best
results, you must change the target directory with every batch scan (i.e.
group of photos in run). This in turn restarts the numbering scheme for the
resulting files. Considering that I have 1650 photos which are all evidence
in single lawsuit which must be digitized and consistently named, that makes
it a huge pain in the ass to rename, resequence and regroup the resulting
scans. If the HP software worked as it should, I should be able to scan 16,
160, 1,600 or 16,000 photos to the same directory and pick the
naming/numbering scheme of my choice without paying a price in stability or
performance.

10. If you chose to scan directly to another app via TWAIN, you should have
the option not to do a preview/resize/resample scan in HP's twain preview
applet before the scan shows up in your intended application. This is a
BATCH SCANNING DEVICE. Anything which requires human input per scan as each
scan is conducted hurts performance.

11. The scanner software does not save the files between scans. It saves
each
file after the entire batch is complete. Sometimes it "hiccups" during a
batch scan, which means that appears to run through and scan all of the
batch, but fails to save some (or even all) of the batch. A real time
waster. The fact that each image is not written to disk between scans
instead of at the end of the run leaves you more vulnerable to data loss,
although I suppose that it improves throughput speed. The sofware should
give you a choice whether to write each file as scanned or write all at end
of batch scans.

12. It's a cop-out when you call for support and the tech says, "Oh, we
intended that for the home market -- we never envisioned this kind of use."
That's kind of like saying that home users don't deserve better or are too
stupid to know that they're being provided deficient software.

I have been using this scanner on an IBM Netvista with Pentium 4 running at
1.8ghz with 1.0 gb ram running Windows 2000 (SP3). This computer is
dedicated to scanning. It is not running any other programs. It is equipped
with a Belkin USB 2.0 add-in card which is running the scanner.

I give the hardware a grade of A-
I give the sofware a grade of D-


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