Device is aimed at baby boomers with shoeboxes of pics that need to be digitized.
EPSON FASTFOTO FF-640
THE GOOD: Super-fast photo scanning.
THE BAD: High price, needs frequent cleaning.
RATING: A A A A
It’s been a while since there has been any real innovation in scanners, but Epson looks to be onto something with its new FastFoto FF-640. It’s a compact device designed to specifically scan in photos at a rapid clip. There’s no two ways about it: It’s a fantastic tool whose time has come.
The FastFoto is indeed fast – at its standard 300-dots-per-inch setting, it scans photos at a rate of one per second. You simply insert a stack of pictures into its vertical feed and press scan. A few seconds later, it’s done. Scanning at the higher 600-dpi resolution doesn’t slow things down too much – each photo takes only three seconds.
It’s pretty amazing to see those photos shoot through.
Scanning is one thing, but organizing is another. Fortunately, Epson has users covered here too.
The included software lets you label scans with year, season and descriptor before feeding the pics through, which puts them all into the file folder of your choice. The FastFoto works best with batches of 30 or fewer photos at a time and the software lets you add successive batches to labelled folders.
The software also allows for automatic enhancements, including colour fixing and red-eye elimination. These are great features that go a long way to restoring old photos that may have faded over time. Users can choose to store two copies of each photo – the original and the enhanced version – or just one or the other.
The FastFoto also does double-sided scans, in case you have writing on the back of pics that you might want to keep. Last but not least, it also does documents.
Younger readers might wonder what the heck a printed photo is. Indeed, the FastFoto is aimed at baby boomers who have lots of photos lying around in shoeboxes or albums. It’s possible to have such photos digitized professionally, but it can cost a bundle. Epson’s device is supposed to make it fast, easy and cheap. Or cheaper, at least.
The FastFoto isn’t an inexpensive device – it’s $899 in Canada. There’s also an intrinsic problem with it – what do you do with it once you’ve scanned all your photos? After all, it’s not like anyone is producing printed photos in any real quantities anymore, and not too many people really need a document scanner.
In that sense, it’s a device made to be shared. It’s something you kick in for with several friends, then pass around. Each person taking a turn seems to be the best way to get the most bang for your buck.
Besides price, the FastFoto has one flaw. Its vertical feed makes its innards vulnerable to dust, which means it needs to be cleaned frequently. I found myself having to open it up and wipe the scan heads with a micro-fibre cloth every couple of batches. Failing to do so resulted in unsightly streaks on the scans.
It’s a bit annoying and slows down the process somewhat. It’d be nice to see future iterations shield against particle intrusions.
Despite that, the FastFoto is ultimately a huge time saver over traditional flat-bed scanners and a worthwhile pickup for anyone with a giant pile of photos that need to be digitized.
Epson supplied a trial unit for the purposes of this review.