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Hewlett Packard CapShare 910 Scanner Review

Photography has always included a special separate field, which dealt with capturing documents, namely with microfilming books in the libraries and photo-spying. If you have ever read a detective story or seen a James Bond movie, you probably remember that secret cameras and microfilms were always an inalienable part of the plot. And can you imagine a spy without a tiny camera hidden or fastened somewhere, for instance, on a sleeve or in the glasses rim (remember "Mission Impossible"). Well, today the stationary photocopying is already quite well developed, there is the whole bunch of different scanners, which can brilliantly capture and store any document in the electronic form. As for the compact portable devices, they can be regarded as a spy modification of a normal thing. So, the first product we got was a hand-held scanner from Hewlett Packard - CapShare 910.

We really feel like calling it a concept-scanner, similar to concept-cars, especially bearing in mind that we can just add another "1" and there will be a really meaningful number for auto-world (remember Porsche 911). Hand-held scanners appeared almost the first ones, they were quite portable and could capture line art as well as halftone graphics. And they were much cheaper than the device we are going to discuss today. In terms of mechanic construction, those ones are very close to the ordinary PC mouse. This scanner is also a certain relative of the mouse, though not of a mechanic but of an optic one. However, it doesn't need a mouse pad with the grids. Its two large eyes try to catch the slightest floating of the paper. The scanner's optic scheme is also very different from its mechanic brothers. Instead of one single lens, line photo receiver, mirror and gas-discharge lamp we notice at first sight 17 light-sensitive diodes for elumination and about a hundred of microlenses supposedly in front of short line photo receivers. Besides, the modern scanner is no longer lying: it has finally stood up straight showing its proud carriage. And although the cable for the serial port is included into the package, it is most likely to play the role of two supporting crutches than that of the main connecting device. Our hero strives for total independence and can contact computers, printers and organizers via IR-port. The installation and setup of the PC IR-connection ran without any difficulties, which made us very happy compared to the other IR devices we had already tried. (However, the distance to the PC still had to be under one meter and the sunlight remained the worst enemy of the infrared connection, unfortunately.) The power supply is also pretty nicely designed, though the battery charger is relatively slow compared to other similar devices, which go together with digital cameras, and manages to charge four rechargeable batteries for 14 hours and two - for 10. The package includes 4 rechargeable batteries: while two of them are inserted into the scanner, the other two can be recharged in the meanwhile.

As for the scanner's technical peculiarities, it proved really cool in all respects so that we have every right to announce the beginning of the XXI century. You may move the device along the newspaper, for instance, in any direction you like, zigzag or forward-backward, and it will store a real newspaper page and not some kaleidoscope tracery, which could be produced by a mechanic hand-held scanner in its place. Although CapShare 910 is a black-n-white scanner and stores bit images, the image rotating and combining it allows implies that this device is equipped with a very powerful processor. However, the practical use of this scanner is still not so evident. Of course, the beautiful casing, the foppish carrying pouch, the price, which is almost 20 times as high as that of the hand-held scanner, - all these things are really cool and may significantly contribute to your image of a superman, but... But it is not so universal as it might seem. Scanning newspaper articles runs just perfectly, however, as it comes to books and magazines two grave problems arise.

The first one deals with scanning close to the back of the book. The required left margin should be at least 11mm and the right one - over 7mm, which is never made in most magazines and textbooks. In fact, we think that the multilens construction of the scanner could allow considerably reducing the required margin size.

The second problem is the paper quality. Although this scanner aims at being called the device of the XXI century, it seems to prefer ancient manuscripts, old machine-typed pages or documents printed on the newspaper, which dates back to the World War II. As soon as it comes across a sheet of glossy art paper, you get a message that "the paper is too glossy or too dark". Sometimes, you can manage to dupe the scanner with the help of a piece of tracing paper or stamped film put on the page you need to scan, so that the scanner could adjust to it. However, if the film is transparent, the device may still report that that "the paper is too glossy or too dark". If it gets satisfied with the film tracery and positions with regard to the tracery then it may appear quite difficult to see the required text behind it when scanned. But we have to be fair and to admit that this scanner worked just perfectly with a textbook by Mr. Ryzhik "The Tables of Integrals, Sums, Rows and Products", which is quite popular among Russian maths students.

In general, if it were not for the margins, this scanner could be a cool means for scanning most Russian books. However, as for the modern glossy illustrated magazines and Western scientific journals, which seem to be originally closer to the progressive device, simply irritated it with their vivid polish. We would also like to mention the fact that this scanner is not intended for scanning photos, because it doesn't distinguish the gray scale colors. Besides, the photos are usually printed on glossy paper that's why it will most likely refuse to scan photos at all. But if you put a piece of stamped film over...

A few words about the text preview. The square screen with the 4-times enlargement feature for any image part allows not only checking the quality of the scanning made but also reading or looking through the scanned text stored in the scanner memory if necessary. As to Hewlett Packard, the number of pages it can store is also pretty impressive: about 50! If you need, you may rotate the page, change the screen brightness, call the scanner properties menu and load even an animated operation manual.

So, let's sum up what we've got all in all. Well, it's a very beautiful device with the size of a modern digital camera (not a spy size, actually, however, you will hardly find a spy interested in the newspaper archive of the public library :-). But those of you, who may need to store some issues from the morning papers, memorize a very important document in order to avoid conflicts at work, store your signatures, seals, forms, etc., quickly send a fax from a personal organizer, or simply impress the colleagues and clients, should really think about this irreplaceable thing.

The documents stored in the scanner memory can be send via IR-port directly to the printer (which provides you with quite an effective copier), as well as save in your PC memory. The latter may be carried out in one of the three formats: PDF - intended for business documentation, and two TIFF types - normal and multipage. TIFF-files are very well recognized by any special software, and even very small newspaper text scanned with CapShare 910 caused no problems in FineReader 4.

Technical features

Dimensions 140x105x38mm
Weight with two batteries 354.4g
Resolution 300dpi
Width of the surface scanned 113mm
Max surface scanned 710sq.cm
Max length of the document scanned 635mm
Scanning speed 228mm/sec
Max scanning angles difference 45o
Memory 4MB about 50 pages
Size 45.7x45.7mm
Resolution 160x160 pixels, 16 colors in grayscale.
Data transfer rate  
Serial port 115Kbit/sec
IR-port 4Mbit/sec (FIR), 115Kbit/sec (SIR)

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