NWA-PCUG Newsletter Article
UMAX Astra 1200S Scanner
by Bob Frye, January 98

Santa must have thought I'd been a good little boy this past year, because he brought me a UMAX flatbed scanner. The Astra 1200S is a mid-range model in extensive line of UMAX sheetfeed and flatbed scanners. The 1200S scans legal size documents up to 600 x 1200 dpi optical resolution in 30-bit color. Like most mid-range scanners, the Astra uses a SCSI II interface. My package included the scanner, a SCSI card with five foot SCSI cable, a 12V DC power brick (for scanner power), and two CD-ROMs with online manuals and application software.

Like many recent scanner models, the Astra's functions are controlled through software. In fact, there's only a single green light on the front of the 1200S to indicate if it's warmed up and ready to scan. The power switch is located on the back along with power adapter plug and two 25-pin SCSI connectors. If you don't have other external SCSI devices to daisy chain, you plug the included SCSI terminator into one of the SCSI connector sockets. There's also a SCSI ID switch to reset the scanner SCSI ID, if needed. The printed quick start guides for Windows and Macintosh systems make setup a snap. The compact 13" x 21" footprint doesn't hog too much desk space either.

The VistaScan Twain interface is easy to use, even for a novice like myself. You use dropdown lists to select features like type of scan (color or grayscale) and resolution (up to 9600 dpi). Slider bars with digital readouts enable to quickly set brightness, scaling, highlight, shadow and gamma curve for each scan. The preview function has a resizable window to designate the final scan area. It takes about 25 seconds to acquire a full color, preview scan of an 8 1/2" x 11" page of mixed text and graphics. A full color, 300 dpi scan took about 40 seconds of the same page. VistaScan has a convenient readout of image size versus available memory, so you can adjust the resolution and/or image size so it remains within the capabilities of your system memory before you attempt the final scan. For example, my sample 300 dpi scan needed over 23 MB of memory. Higher or lower resolutions need proportionally more or less memory. Initial tests suggest that scan speed for the final image is also proportional to the resolution (i.e., a 600 dpi scan takes about twice as long as a 300 dpi scan).

So far I've been pleased with the 1200S. The only difficulty I've had was getting my system to recognize the included SCSI adapter card. For some reason Windows couldn't detect the ISA adapter card during initial installation or subsequent reinstall attempts. I finally got it to work by first installing an Adaptec SCSI card from my other computer, then swapping it for the included adapter card. Maybe Santa didn't think I'd been so nice after all. Without the extra time spent on SCSI adapter card, it would have probably taken an hour from opening the box to first scan, including installing all the application software.

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