ScanJet ends peripheral proliferation

My first test was to scan a document and transfer it to a printer, sort of like a
virtual copier. I opened HP's included JetAdmin administration software and set it to
recognize the network printer. This was a one-time task.

 I inserted a few printed pages into the feed mechanism, selected Copy from the LCD
option menu, chose a networked printer and entered how many copies to print. Then I hit
the bright green Go button and waited for the printer to start churning out paper.

 The time for an operation like this will vary with network load and printer speed,
but I was pleased how quickly the sheets scanned in.

 It was almost exactly the same operation to set up the scanner as the front end to a
fax server. I selected from predefined fax numbers or entered them on the scanner's
numeric pad.

 With this feature, an office with a fax server would not need a separate fax machine
to print hard copies.

 After all the frosting, how about the cake? The ScanJet 5 is first and foremost a
scanner. Its performance at that primary task will determine its success.

 The mechanics are simple. A 300 dot-per-inch, 8-bit grayscale scanning engine
enhances resolution up to 1,200 dpi. There's a network connection for 10Base-T and
10Base-2 LAN connectivity. For an extra $200, you can get token-ring, Ethernet
100VG-AnyLAN or Ethernet 100Base-T connections, too.

 Things get more complex with the software that handles the scanned documents. Images
first go to a utility that you preset to forward the data to a document management, mail
or other application.

 For most types of scanning, you need an integrated electronic document management
program. Hewlett-Packard has chosen a modified version of PaperPort software from
Visioneer Inc. of Palo Alto, Calif. 

PaperPort acts as a clearinghouse, letting you either drag and drop a scanned image into
the appropriate application or set up folders to organize images.

 For optical character recognition, HP decided to go with OmniPage Lite software from
Caere Corp. of Los Gatos, Calif. For $129 more, you can get the full-featured OmniPage Pro
25-seat upgrade pack.

 I recommend spending the money, because I found the standard OCR software useful
only for minimal document formatting. 

The Lite version of OmniPage could not handle some basic tasks, such as keeping column
formats. And it has few customizing options.

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