Scanners that connect to a PC via the fast IEEE 1394 standard typically carry price tags of around US$1000, placing them out of reach for most consumers, but Umax Technologies Inc. brings IEEE 1394 (also called Firewire and ILink) into the mainstream with its $249 Astra 6400. The 6400 has a maximum resolution of 600 by 1200 dots per inch, and offers 42-bit color. The 1394 standard offers transfer speeds of up to 400 megabits per second. Most consumer scanners today use a Universal Serial Bus connection, which offers a maximum transfer rate of 12 mbps. Apple Computer Inc. developed the 1394 standard and calls it Firewire, and most of the company’s new products include a Firewire port. However, few PC vendors have jumped on the 1394 bandwagon, so most computers lack a 1394 port. However, Umax has provided a 1394 port on a PCI card. The 6400 ships with Adobe Systems Inc.’s Photoshop LE, Caere OmniPage LE OCR, NewSoft Presto Pagemaker, and an electronic book called “Scanner Solutions,” by Winston Steward. To run the scanner, you’ll need a PC with Windows 98 Second Edition or Windows 2000 (both support 1394). Umax is also offering a $299 version of the product, called the 6450, which includes a universal transparency cover for scanning slides and negatives. The company sells the accessory for $69 for use with the 6400. Umax in Fremont, Calif., is at http://www.umax.com.
Prices listed are in US currency.