SCAN:ALIGN. (scanner) (Evaluation)
by Tom Benford
It's touted as "the straight answer to scanning, " a description that's right on the momey. SCAN:ALIGN is a devilishly simple device that makes hand scanning a fast and efficient operation rather than the dedious and frustrating task it usually is when attempted freehand.
The SCAN:ALIGN unit is a plastic scanning "table" measuring about 20 inches long and 10 inches wide. The base table has a grid imprinted on it for aligning the material to be scanned. The document to be scanned is placed under a clear acetate sheet covering the grid table. A second sheet of rigid plastic with the center removed acts as the scanner "track" and is hinged to the bottom plastic table with the acetate sheet sandwiched in between.
Plastic templates which accommodate more than 25 of the most popular hand scanners are provided. These templates glide along the track like a sled between two rails. The scanner fits into the opening of the appropriate template, which keeps it aligned. The result is a truly ingenious solution that dramatically increases the accuracy of hand scanning.
Using SCAN:ALIGN could not be simpler. The text or art to be scanned is placed on the table and aligned using the handy silkscreened grid markings. Next, the protective acetate sheet is placed over the material to protect it and keep it from shifting position. The track is lowered over the acetate, and the correct scanner template is placed between the two side rails of the track. Then the scanner is placed into the template's receiver opening, and you're ready to scan--that's all there is to it.
I found SCAN:ALIGN to be a terrific aid when scanning text material for OCR (Optical Character Recognition) purposes. Additionally, it greatly simplifies doing two-pass scans where the left and right halves of the page must be scanned individually and then "zipped" together. The alignment grid of the SCAN:ALIGN unit makes this a simple operation by providing guides for the left and right edges of the page which precisely center the "overlap" zones of the page. The result is OCR accuracy rivaling that of expensive flatbed scanners.
Scanning photos and line art is also much faster and easier with SCAN: ALIGN, since it makes it possible to do straight, accurate scans the first time. Cleanup of errant pixels is also greatly reduced, so you'll save lots of time in prepping your scanned art for use in desktop publishing or other applications.
SCAN:ALIGN is a must-have accessory for anyone who uses a hand scanner. It's a great tool that actually lives up to its manufacturer's hype.