- User Rating: OK
Ease of Use:
Pros:Good color, resolution. One-touch buttons.
Cons:Terrible customer support, not a good company.
The Bottom Line: Not worth the time or money. Badly built. Choose a different scanner.
The UMAX Astra 3400 is an OK scanner. But UMAX is one of the worst companies I have ever run in to in terms of customer support. First, about the scanner.
The 3400 scans relatively well, with a few minor glitches. It's not graphics-engineer-quality, but it is good enough for any normal user. It's scanning area is quite small in comparison to the size of the scanner itself; it can scan up to 8 1/2" by 11" pages, while the scanner is more like 20"x16". The one-touch buttons (there are 3: scan, copy, and custom) are a nice touch, but unfortunately their construction felt very flimsy. The same was true of the rest of the scanner. It was shoddily built of low-grade plastic (a side note - it doesn't have little rubber feet so it may scratch your desk surface). However, all of this can be expected from a scanner which sells for $30 at eBay (really!).
One of the three main problems is the quality of the software. It installs (or doesn't install, read below) with about four programs, and then expects you to install the bundled Adobe PhotoDeluxe. PhotoDeluxe is a terribly designed program which is not good for the average user. It requires many steps to configure what and how you want to scan. The other programs the 3400 installs are supposedly required. Those are VistaScan and VistaAccess. The former is another scanning program (why did it ship with both PhotoDeluxe and this one?) which is far easier to use than PhotoDeluxe. However, it still does not compare with the ease of use of HP's scanning software. VistaAccess is the real disappointment. This program MUST be running in the background in order for the scanner to work. Not only that, but it must be running in order to use the "one-touch" buttons as well! That makes them more like "three-touch" buttons. Having this program running slows down your computer by using valuable system resources. If you don't want it running, it then slows down your productivity - you have to start it up to scan anything.
The second main problems is installation with Windows XP. Though the box says that the scanner IS compatible with XP, it is really not. I kid you not, their "support" representatives told me that. After installing all of the software (another side note - the software on the CD was NOT the latest), VistaAccess ran perfectly, but it could not detect the scanner. It gave an error message "the scanner link has failed." After un-intalling and re-installing the software several times, I had to call tech support. Which brings me to the last problem, the worst one.
Tech support. UMAX lists two tech support numbers in their manual. I tried both; both had been disconnected. Another search brought me their newer numbers (I found them on the website). The numbers are not toll-free. What followed was a 45 minute wait on hold (and this was late at night!). I timed it. Finally I was connected with a representative who took quite a while to help me uninstall and reinstall the drivers. Instead of using the normal drivers, we had to use a pair that XP specified as "not digitally signed." That means that they have not been checked out with Microsoft. That made the 3400 work, but VistaAccess would crash every time I started it. I then spent an hour cleaning up the registry, and "fixing previous uninstallations." It finally worked.
The reason I give this product 2 stars? Because it is not a product of high quality. Dell ships it free with their computers. You can get it for less than $50. It is not well built. And, most importantly, UMAX is not a well-run company. Their tech support is below par, and their hold times seem endless. I rated it 2 stars because, once you get it to work, it can actually scan OK images. However, getting the installation to that point is just not worth the effort.
If you have Windows XP, I strongly discourage you from buying this scanner. It takes a VERY long time to install it and get it to full working order. Choose another scanner, such as an HP
Thanks for reading.
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