Got a mountain of old photo prints stuffed in drawers, boxes and under the bed? The FastFoto FF680W from Epson could be the solution.
This compact desktop photo and document scanner can convert your Kodak moments into digital form fast, as well as mowing down the mountain of paperwork that somehow still makes it to our mailboxes.
Epson calls it the world's fastest personal photo scanner, and at one photo per second, it's impressively quick.
For anybody who's ever laboriously ganged-up batch after batch of just a few photos at a time on a flatbed scanner before inevitably giving up, the FastFoto churning through up to 36 photos per batch is not just mesmerising, it's a must-have.Price:
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This is the second generation of the FastFoto (the first didn't make it to Australia) and it seems to have ironed out the niggles that generally pop up in a first-generation product, as we found it worked pretty much flawlessly.
We tried it out courtesy of Epson and threw everything we could at it – from pristine prints to faded photos – and found it handled everything easily.
We were also quite impressed with the way it handled different sized prints in the one batch, as well as the automatic image correction options that can remove colour cast and fix minor imperfections on-the-fly.
- adjusting brightness
- adjusting contrast
- adjusting cast
- red-eye removal.
It's easy to see if the changes are worth keeping, as the original scan is also kept so that you can compare the two, side-by-side.
You can also fine-tune the auto enhancement settings or disable them entirely, but there's no harm in leaving it enabled just to see out of curiosity if it can help your photos.
In our tests the FastFoto ripped through a typical batch of 36 pictures (the input tray capacity for photos) in 28 seconds at 300dpi, or 95 seconds to scan the same photos at 600dpi.
The scan times are similar whether you use USB 3.0 or Wi-Fi.
You can also use this unit as a document scanner to quickly complete jobs of 100 pages. We found it coped with double-sided scanning of an A4, 50-sheet document (100 pages) in just under two minutes.
If you set up the scanner on your wireless network, you can scan documents directly to your phone as a PDF.
To set up the scanner, you have to download the software for your computer and connect the scanner via USB 3.0 cable (supplied).
It downloads all the utilities you need to start scanning straight away and it isn't complicated. For wireless connections, you'll have to use WPS to connect the scanner to your network. It's not possible to scan photos to a phone over Wi-Fi (the app doesn't support this), but it you can scan wirelessly to a computer.
It only supports the 2.4GHz Wi-Fi band, but we didn't have any issues with it scanning masses of photos over our network to our Windows PC.
The advantage of using Wi-Fi is that you don't have to set the scanner up next to your computer – you can put it anywhere you have space.
You could even pack it up after you're done and only bring it out every once in a while, without the need to plug in anything other than a power cable.
The FastFoto may seem relatively expensive compared to cheap A4 flatbed scanners that retail for just over $100. But for anyone who has masses of photo prints that they want to scan, it will perform that job with speed and ease. It's ideal for small clubs and large families.
Furthermore, its ability to quickly scan documents is useful for any home or small office environment that needs to digitise printed pages. It's worth noting that the FastFoto also scans any writing that's on the back of photos.
Epson says the FastFoto will handle various media types and sizes, including postcards, Polaroids and panoramic photos up to 36 inches.
The scanner software has an Auto-Upload setting that can send images to cloud storage services such as Google Drive and Dropbox.
As a document scanner it can scan and store all sorts of receipts, documents and files. It also has OmniPage OCR (optical character recognition) for converting printed documents to searchable PDFs and editable Word and Excel files.
So, if you have a shoebox (or suitcase) or two of old happy-snap photos sitting around the house (like most of us), the Epson FastFoto is probably the most exciting scanner to come out in a long time.
Now, if only Epson would do something similar for all our old transparency slides.
Stock images: Getty, unless otherwise stated.