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Benq 7400UT

WHAT'S HOT: The Benq 7400UT is one of only three scanners that we've tested with 2400-by-4800-dpi resolution; the other two were intended for use in workgroups rather than small or home offices. The 7400UT's 2400-dpi capacity lets you enlarge a 35mm slide to an 8-by-12-inch print without losing image quality. The 7400UT supports USB 2.0, but it's also backward compatible with USB 1.1. As most computers don't yet include USB 2.0, Benq conveniently bundles this scanner with a USB 2.0 add-in card. The 7400UT scans both photo prints and transparent materials right off the shelf with its built-in transparency adapter and sturdy film holders, which accept material as large as 4 by 5 inches. Benq sweetens the deal with 24/7 toll-free phone support.

WHAT'S NOT: Overall, the 7400UT's image quality was lackluster. Color and black-and-white photos had a flat, low-contrast appearance, and 35mm slides suffered from washed-out colors. Tested as a USB 1.1 scanner, the 7400UT's performance was plodding. It took 72 seconds to scan a 5-by-7-inch color photo at 75 dpi. The CanoScan N1240U completed the same test in 33 seconds. Priced at $300, the Benq unit is expensive compared to most of the other SOHO chart scanners, and no automatic document feeder is available.

WHAT ELSE: The 7400UT's front panel sports five buttons to quick-start typical jobs: general scanning, copying to a printer, scanning to the Web, scanning to Palm-compatible PDAs, and optical character recognition. Different sizes of transparencies can be scanned with the three included film holders. These sturdy trays accommodate large transparencies (up to 4 by 5 inches), two 35mm slides, or three 35mm negative filmstrips. The 7400UT comes bundled with ABBYY FineReader 4.0 Sprint for OCR, ArcSoft PhotoImpression 3.0 for image editing, ArcSoft PhotoBase 3.0 for image management, and a MiraScan TWAIN driver that's perfect for novices.

UPSHOT: With its extra-high resolution and excellent transparency adapter, the pricey Benq 7400UT is aimed at graphics perfectionists. Using the USB 2.0 interface may give it a speed boost, but this scanner doesn't provide the image quality that exacting users, such as professional graphics artists, would demand. By Richard Jantz

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