Epson Perfection V300 Photo Scanner

The $100 Epson Perfection V300 Photo is a worthy candidate if you're looking for an affordable . This 48-bit, 4800-dpi, USB scanner is easy to install and use, and it's capable of producing good-looking scans from a variety of originals, including old, faded photos.

The 5.7-pound V300 Photo has the same design and general specifications as the , but it replaces the light source (a fluorescent lamp) with lower-voltage LEDs, making the V300 more eco-friendly and energy-efficient than its predecessor. For example, in its idle (on but not active) mode, the V300 draws 8 watts, as opposed to the V200's 14 watts. In addition, Epson continues to bundle a separate OCR application ( 6.0 Sprint Plus), as well as image editing and image management apps (ArcSoft MediaImpression).

In my tests, the V300's overall performance was fast. It took less than 9 and 11 seconds, respectively, to scan a 4-by-5-inch color photo at 100 dpi and a full-page monochrome document at 300 dpi--the best scores in those categories among the scanners I've tested of late.

The V300 demonstrated excellent image quality in numerous color and monochrome scans, typically displaying accurate color tones with sharp details. It also produced good-looking film scans via its built-in transparency adapter (which can take up to four 35mm slides or five filmstrip frames at a time; I used it in tandem with the scanning software's color-restoration and dust-removal features to rejuvenate old 35mm slides. I also converted numerous documents into searchable PDFs and editable text files using the bundled OCR app, and I was able to save files in both RTF and Microsoft Excel formats.

My only gripe is that the V300's cable connectors sit inconveniently next to the four front-panel buttons (for copy, scan, PDF, and e-mail) instead of on the rear of the scanner, which would have made cable management easier and less unsightly.

With its ease of use and impressive performance, the Epson Perfection V300 Photo is a good bargain, especially if you need to scan film and you want versatile OCR capabilities.