Product Review: Visioneer Paperport 6100 Scanner

The Visioneer Paperport 6100 is a flatbed color scanner designed to work with Windows computers. Despite providing good-quality scans and having a number of useful features, this scanner can often be purchased used for under twenty dollars.

Although it is fairly large (19″ long, 11″ wide, 4″ thick), the Paperport 6100 is rather lightweight. The scanning surface is 11″ long and 8.5″ wide, allowing for fairly large pieces of paper or multiple/large photographs. The scanner is almost entirely beige in color.

The Paperport 6100 uses a parallel cable to connect to a computer, so it has the same type of port as a printer. A useful feature included on the Paperport is that it has a printer port on the back of the scanner, so a printer can be plugged into the scanner. Because of this, if your computer only has one parallel port, you can still have the printer and scanner attached to it at the same time. Unlike with some newer scanners, your computer doesn’t need to have a USB port.

This scanner runs off of an AC adapter which does not require a three-prong outlet. Like the Paperport 6100, the adapter (model YS-1015-U12) is somewhat large but very lightweight. The scanner doesn’t have a power switch, instead it decides when to turn the internal light on and off. A small light on the exterior doesn’t seem to turn off at any time. A large blue button, which could be mistaken for a power button, activates the Paperport software if your computer is on.

Visioneer included a fairly detailed instruction manual, Paperport software/driver CD-ROM, and a quick reference sheet with this scanner. The manual is also for the Visioneer Paperport 3100 and 6000. If possible, try to avoid buying a used scanner which doesn’t at least include the CD-ROM.

System requirements of the Paperport 6100 aren’t very demanding, it should work on most modern computers. According to the manual, it requires an IBM-compatible 486 or higher processor, CD-ROM drive, VGA or SVGA graphics, 16MB or more memory, and 35MB of available hard drive space. The manual also states that Windows 95 or NT 4.0 is needed, but the scanner works fine in Windows 98 as well. As long as you aren’t using an old 386 processor or Windows 3.1, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, there are some minor problems with the software in Windows XP which are discussed in the next paragraph.

The quick reference sheet advises users to connect the scanner to a computer, then run the software/driver CD-ROM. Installing the Visioneer Paperport software and drivers on a computer with Windows 98 was quite easy and didn’t take long. It installed rather quickly on a newer computer with Windows XP as well. However, an error appeared warning that “you might not be able to save a form created with FormTyper in PaperPort” in Windows XP. It is still possible to scan and adjust documents and photos with the Paperport software in Windows XP, but it seems less stable than in Windows 98, as the screen occasionally blanks briefly and there are other minor problems at times. Using PictureWorks MediaCenter for scanning seems to reduce or eliminate such problems, and it still brings up Visioneer Scan Manager for the scanning process.

The Paperport software is easy-to-use and allows users to select the resolution and color settings for the scanner, scan and preview documents/photos, and adjust images. The image adjustment feature is partially automatic and allows the contrast/brightness/etc. to be adjusted more easily than in some other programs of this type. It does not require the CD-ROM drive to be inserted while it is used, after it has been installed. The higher the resolution, the longer the scanning takes. The scanner makes more noise while scanning at a higher resolution as well. Occasionally a short “warm-up” waiting period needs to be completed before scanning begins, but this is less than one minute and only occurs when the scanner hasn’t been used recently.

The manual indicates that the 6100 has an optical resolution of 600×1200 dpi, maximum resolution of 2400×2400 dpi, 36 bit color with 24 bit output scanning, 12 bit grayscale scanning, and 1 bit line art scanning.

This scanner is most likely to be found on eBay.com, but might also be purchased occasionally at a yard or garage sale. Because of its low price, it is not likely that much money will be saved by purchasing a scanner which is older than the Paperport 6100 and would probably have a lower resolution.

Overall, the Visioneer Paperport 6100 is a good choice if you are looking for an inexpensive scanner with fairly good resolution, especially if your computer doesn’t meet the requirements of newer scanners.

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