Windows XP / Beginners

Upgrading Imaging

Windows XP includes many exciting new features that may lead you to install some new hardware that lets you capture and manipulate graphics.

Choosing a scanner

A scanner is a valuable accessory for many computer users. It works by scanning the image on a sheet of paper with a light sensor. The scanner then digitizes the image and transmits it to your computer.

You can use an image captured by a scanner in many ways: You can attach it to an e-mail message, include it in a document, publish it on a Web site, use it as a starting point for artwork, or print it for your daughter's Science Fair project.

Optical character recognition (OCR) software can "read" printed material from a scanner with some degree of accuracy and turn it into an editable document.

Scanners are available with USB, SCSI, and parallel interfaces. (See the section, "Choosing an interface," earlier in this tutorial.) In most cases, the USB interface is preferred for its speed and ease of use.

Scanning paper items

Paper scanners for the consumer market fall into two categories. Flatbed scanners have a flat plate of glass covered by a hinged lid. You place the copy face down on the glass, close the lid, and the scanner moves the light sensor over the copy. Path-through scanners have a set of rollers that draws a sheet of copy past the sensor.

The two types of scanners cost about the same. Path-through scanners are more compact and convenient, but also more limited because they can scan only unbound sheets of paper. Flatbed scanners can handle books, magazines, and rigid material such as cardboard.

Most scanners do a creditable job of scanning black-and-white or color photographs or drawings as well as printed material.

A path-through scanner is sometimes called a sheetfed scanner, but that term also refers to a flatbed scanner with an automatic paper transport. The latter type is a relatively expensive gadget intended for high-volume work. There's an obvious potential for misunderstanding here.

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