The scanner gives truly impressive results. It carriers a price tag of US$899, but for those creative professionals and deadline racers (photographers, graphic designers, and other power users) who need top-of-the-line scanning results, it’s hard to beat. It delivers images with accurate color and sharp detail, even in shadows and highlights.
The PowerLook 1100 was the first professional Mac and PC scanner dedicated for FireWire/IEEE-1394 support. And it certainly beats the USB and SCSI scanners I’ve tried on several fronts. The FireWire connectivity offers PowerLook 1100 users time-saving features such as fast data transfer rates, hot-pluggable connectivity without needing a host card, and the ability to connect multiple Macs to streamline workflow (although I never tried the latter).
Support for FireWire/IEEE-1394 enables the PowerLook 1100 to eliminate nearly all of the technical difficulties associated with SCSI scanner designs. Connections require neither SCSI termination devices nor pre-assigned addresses, and parallel port data pass-through adapters are eliminated.
The PowerLook 1100 achieves an impressive dynamic (density) range of 3.4 Dmax for fine details, 1200 x 2400 dpi with a 10,600 element tri-linear CCD, and an effective 42-bit output (which allows the capture of more color information and better color fidelity than the more common 36-bit scanners), using UMAX’s patented Bit Enhancement Technology. By the way, Dmax refers to a scanner’s ability to capture detail in the darkest and brightest areas of a photo. The larger the dynamic range, the more color detail a scanner can provide in highlights and shadows.
The scanner offers a transparency adapter, auto-detect frame holder for automatic scanning of up to twelve 35mm slides. It also supports batch scanning, and comes bundled with a transparency adapter.
The scanner comes with MagicScan 4.5 (scanning software), binuscan PhotoPerfect RGB 4.4, and Photoshop LE 5.0. MagicScan and binuscan offer features for all level of scanner operators and offer fairly consistent output. And MagicScan is fully ColorSync and ICC compatible.
Weighing a hefty 27 pounds, the PowerLook 1100 measures 21.3 by 13.2 by 6.5 inches. It scans reflective art (color, grayscale, and black and white) up to 8.5 by 11.7 inches, and transparencies measuring up to 8.5 by 10 inches.
So is there anything we didn’t like? Just a couple of things. There’s no Mac OS X driver available (though, hopefully, one is coming). And some of the bundled software’s default settings yielded results that were a bit dark and over-saturated (though I could “tweak” the settings and correct the problems).
Is the PowerLook 1100 for everyone? At $900, no. Many Mac users can find color flatbed scanners for under $200. In fact, there are several sturdy USB models from a number of vendors that will fill the bill for most home and small office/home office users. But if you need exemplary image quality, the PowerLook can create pristine scans of reflective and transparent materials. System requirements are a Power Mac G4, G3, or iMac DV, CD-ROM drive, 64MB of RAM, 300MB of free hard disk space, and Mac OS 8.6 or later.