HP Scanjet 4600 Review

The Scanjet 4600 is one of the sleekest flatbeds we've ever seen. It looks more like a piece of technology art than a scanner.
The Scanjet 4600 is one of the sleekest flatbeds we've ever seen. It looks more like a piece of technology art than a scanner.
The Scanjet 4600 is one of the sleekest flatbeds we've ever seen. It looks more like a piece of technology art than a scanner.

Highs

  • Sleek design
  • small form factor
  • ease of use.

Lows

  • USB/Power combo cable
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Summary

The HP Scanjet 4600 flatbed scanner provides quality scans and is designed to look sleek and take up little space on your desk. It is easy to use for most people and is well situated as an entry level device for consumers and small businesses.

The host of features offered with this this scanner makes it versatile enough to do quick and easy scans of photos, documents and more. With auto cropping, optical character recognition and a stylish design, this sub-$130 scanner should appeal to a wide range of users.

Introduction

Hewlett Packard prides themselves in innovative design and functionality when it comes to their printers and scanners. The HP Scanjet 4600 flatbed scanner is one of the most recent results of the company’s design prowess and attention to detail. This scanner, which is aimed mainly at the mid to lower end consumer market in terms of simplicity of use and price, sports four buttons which do most of the work and has a super thin design which helps to preserve desk space but at the same time give maximum options on scanning.

With a retail price of around $129, HP Scanjet 4600 should appeal to wide range of home and small-office users.


The minimalistic design of the see-through Scanjet 4600 makes it look like a picture frame.

Features and Design

With a 2400×2400 dpi resolution, this 48-bit scanner can handle documents up to 8 ½ by 11 inches. It weighs in at 3.02 pounds (4.05 with the included horizontal holder) and the body measures 16.3 x 11.8x 0.7 inches (W x D x H) and is incredibly thin – so much so that you could lose it in a stack of papers.

The Scanjet 4600 is not lacking in features, especially the included software. Perhaps one of the best features is what is called ‘Automatic Stitching’, whereby large documents and photos can be scanned in and reassembled through ArcSoft’s Panorama Maker. Another cool item was the ‘Instant Share’ which, as mentioned earlier, allows one-touch scan and email of photos and documents.

Other features of note include a quick preview scan mode to see what your final output will look like, compatibility with USB 2.0 for quicker transfers from scanner to computer, OCR support, a power saver mode and an extremely quiet carriage scanning motor.

The Scanjet 4600 is also one of the sleekest flatbeds we’ve ever seen. It looks more like a piece of technology art than a scanner. The design of the scanner somewhat resembles a picture frame with its rectangular shape and see-through, scratch resistant 8.5 x 11 inch main window, which the company says is virtually unbreakable. The chrome finish and curved edges give the Scanjet 4600 a decidedly cool feel, though when you attach the horizontal holder it looses some of that edge. The see-through window is a nice touch, as it is somewhat mesmerizing to watch the glowing scanner carriage work its way down your document.


The ease of use and sleek design makes the Scanjet 4600 useful at the home and office.
(Image provided by Hewlett-Packard)

Four buttons on the front end of the Scanjet 4600 control all of the action. There is a ‘Power/Power save’ button, which can turn the scanner on and off and also set it into low-power mode. ‘Scan’ does as it says, while the button next to it, ‘Copy’, scans and then sends the output directly to a default printer to make copies. The fourth selection, ‘HP Instant Share’, scans and then prepares the output to be emailed, uploaded to a photo album or made available to order professional quality prints.

Installation and Setup

Installation and setup of the Scanjet 4600 is relatively painless. Owing to the small form factor of the flatbed, the scanner can be placed pretty much anywhere where you have a space slightly larger then a legal size pad. The scanner comes in two parts – the main body which houses the electronics, and a snap-on horizontal holder. A well-detailed setup poster is provided which provides easy to follow instructions, complete with photos and diagrams.

Software installation, which can be done for either Windows based machines or Macs, is quick, taking only a few minutes to configure the drivers. The included CD-ROM was loaded with instruction videos which walk you through how to setup and use the Scanjet 4600, which is a nice touch for many who might be purchasing this as their first scanner.

Perhaps the only issue of note during this part of the process was the funky split cable which serves as both the power source and the USB wire. It was not immediately clear during setup where the power cord was supposed to be plugged into and did require a review of the setup poster to determine exactly what needed to be done. For those who don’t like to follow instructions, this could be a small annoyance.

Scanning Results

With an optical resolution of 2400-dpi and color in the 48-bit range, the overall quality of scanned photos was well above average, with little to no wash out in the color noticed. Scanned documents were fairly crisp as well, though once in a while if scanning into Microsoft Word using the OCR feature, an unrecognized item would appear as gibberish. This seemed to be a rare occurrence, but did happen a few times to us.

It is recommended for those who wish to have full control over the quality of their scans to consider using the HP Director application, as it allows you to customize resolution, output, whether or not a picture is automatically cropped and more.

Conclusion

The HP Scanjet 4600 flatbed scanner provides quality scans and is designed to look sleek and take up little space on your desk. It is easy to use for most people and is well situated as an entry level device for consumers and small businesses.

The host of features offered with this this scanner makes it versatile enough to do quick and easy scans of photos, documents and more. With auto cropping, optical character recognition and a stylish design, this sub-$130 scanner should appeal to a wide range of users.