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Abaton Scan 300/Color

One of August Macworld’s most tempting bargains was the Abaton Scan 300/Color (a 24-bit color flatbed scanner) bundled with Adobe Photoshop 2.0.1 for only $899. This was practically a bargain at twice the price, with two of the best known mail order vendors asking $548 for Photoshop 2.0.1, and the scanner listing for $1,995. Of the others at Macworld, the next closest show special was over $1,100. That $899 temptation was too much for me to resist, but should others follow in my bargain-hunting footsteps?

The May-92 MacUser Color Buying Guide describes flatbed scanners as ideal for the "beginning color user." That is, a professional expecting to earn significant income from color graphic work will likely prefer a more expensive (by about fifty percent) slide scanner or even a high-end ($30,000 and up) drum scanner.

The scanner has a resolution of 300 dots per inch (dpi), but the supplied Photoshop Plug can create resolutions as high as 1200 dpi using software interpolation. The Scan 300/Color is compatible with Abaton’s Scan 300GS if you are using optical character recognition (OCR) software.

On the basis of the literature, for the ordinary Macintosh owner, a more than $200 price break on the Abaton 300/Color appears to be a good value, if not an amazing steal. After all, both the current Personal LaserWriter NTR and Hewlett-Packard DeskWriter C print at 300 dpi and most color monitors are only 72 dpi. Most users should find the resolution more than adequate.

So, what’s the catch (isn’t there always a catch) and why don’t I sound enthused? It shouldn’t be a surprise that there’s a reason why one vendor finds it necessary to offer a much more attractive price than others. Abaton’s support for this product is lackadaisical. Not hostile, just indifferent.

Neither the Color Scan DA (designed to permit scanning within any application that supports graphics) nor the Photoshop Plug is 68040 compatible. Fortunately, the Scanner driver itself and even Abaton’s Black and White DA are Quadra compatible. In itself, the absence of 68040 compatibility will not bother most Macintosh owners. Even Quadra owners can use the software by including the Abaton Color DA and Photoshop itself in the Alysis Compatibility exception list. Using Compatibility, of course, more than halves Photoshop’s performance, which may have ranked high on your list of reasons for purchasing a Quadra in the first place.

The disappointment came when I contacted Abaton’s technical support to inquire about plans for updated software. The response to both phone calls and letters is simple indifference. It does not appear that Abaton has any effort underway to update the ten month-old Abaton Photoshop Plug for the newer Macintoshes. Quite apart from the fact that Apple is committed to upgrading mid-range Macintoshes to the 68040 CPU early next year, is it wise to do business in a competitive marketplace with vendors who are not committed to their products?

On balance, I can only conclude that if you are in the market for a color scanner and if you can purchase the Abaton scanner for substantially less than competitors’ products, then you may want to buy one. Other things being equal, the Microtek, La Cie, UMAX, and Hewlett-Packard scanners all are preferable to the Abaton. Furthermore, if Abaton’s attitude toward supporting their scanner is an indicator, then I would recommend exercising caution with respect to other Abaton (and Everex, the parent company) products.

Related articles:
MacUser — Dec-91
MacUser — May-92
Macworld — Jun-91
Macworld — Oct-91

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