Flatbed scanners have been around for a long time, but every time you blink they seem to be getting faster and smaller.
The CanoScan LiDE 50 is no exception to this with is dimensions being slightly larger than an A4 piece of paper (258 x 374 x 38mm compared to 210 x 297mm) and its speed derived from a USB 2.0 connection out the back. Of course if you don’t have a USB 2.0 socket on your PC yet don’t worry, it will still work, just not as fast.
Couple that with no power socket - power is gained through the USB cable and a weight of two bags of sugar and you’ve got a nifty little device.
If you’re still a bit tight for space the scanner comes with its own stand to place it upright and this does reduce the space needed on a desk, but only if you ever plan to scan in paper as books simple slide out.
It’s not all good news unfortunately. The four buttons on the front that allow for quick scanning are not only indistinguishable from each other, but also have their labels in the wrong place. Store the scanner anywhere below your eye line at your desk and you won’t know what you pressing.
So it’s small and fast but could that affect its scanning capability? Running from an RGB light source the flatbed scanner offers an optical resolution of 1200 x 2400 dpi. Scanning speeds are relatively fast and depend on your choice of settings - over a standard USB connection it took 10 seconds to scan a full page of the dictionary (see right) at 300dpi in grayscale. The picture of me took slightly about 20seconds again at 300dpi and again through a standard USB connection. Speed for the USB connection are about 2.5 times faster than this, and again depend on the amount of detail that the scanner has to capture.
The CanoScan Toolbox is your main software controller for the scanner and it allows you to change all the settings as required. Furthermore it allows you to set up software settings so that certain programs do certain things. In addition to that you can also re-programme the buttons on the front of the machine if you do more OCR work than Photoscanning for example.
Scanning quality overall is very good and the LiDE 50 is certainly fast enough for home or small office use. Detail was crisp and clear, sometimes too clear and keeping the flatbed clean so as not to pick up dust and dirt will be a hard chore for any owner. This product is let down by the hard-to-see buttons on the front, but nonetheless this is a small complaint against what is otherwise a good product. On paper, the only real advantage of this machine over its younger brother is the speed factor, yes you will have to pay £20 more, but then speed always does come at a price.