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Epson Perfection 3170 Photo Scanner

By Charles G. Doe - Posted Nov 1, 2004
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Overall Rating:4 Stars
Ease of Use:
Product Support:A-

Company: Epson America, Inc./Epson Store, P.O. Box 93107, Long Beach, CA 90809; Phone: 800/873-7766; Fax: 562/290-4401; E-mail:; Internet:

Description: The Epson Perfection 3170 Photo scanner handles scanning and provides the ability to work with virtually any photography application, including image restoration. The unit scans everything from negatives, photos, and slides to transparencies, graphics, and text—at up to 3,200 x 6,400 dpi resolution with 48-bit scanning. A built-in 35 mm slide/filmstrip/medium-format adapter is included; an optional 30-page automatic document feeder is available.

The unit's bundled software includes Epson's Easy Photo Fix and Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0, which can provide one-touch color restorations to faded photos, slides, and negatives.

Specifications: The Epson 3170 Photo is a flatbed scanner with a scanning area of 8.5 inches x 11.7 inches (216 mm x 297 mm). The unit is 10.9 inches wide by 4.6 inches high by 18.1 inches long and weights about 9 pounds.

The optical resolution is 3200 dpi; the hardware resolution is a maximum of 3200 x 6400 dpi with Micro Step Drive technology. The scanning speed is 8.7 msec/line at 3200 dpi to 2.8 msec/line at 600 dpi.

Price: $199, retail price. Discounts of $20 to $30 often can be found. At the time this review was written, a $25 rebate was available.

Minimum System Requirements:

Windows systems—IBM-compatible PC with Pentium MMX equivalent processor, Windows 98, 128 MB RAM (256 MB recommended), 500 MB available hard disk space, CD-ROM drive (4x or faster), and a USB connection.

Macintosh systems—iMac or any G3 with built-in USB, Mac OS 8.6, 128 MB RAM (256 MB recommended), 500 MB available hard disk space, CD-ROM drive (4x or faster), and a USB connection.

Warranty: The Epson 3170 Photo has a 1-year parts and labor warranty.

Reviewer Comments:

Installation: Installation is a matter of connecting the scanner to a computer and running the installation software, which takes a few minutes. Installation was very easy. Installation Rating: A

Features: The first scanner I ever worked with was a $1200 Apple flatbed that was twice as large as this Epson, three times as heavy, and could only scan images. Text scanning required additional software, and both image and text processes were slow and clunky. Scanning has come a long way since then!

Initially, I decided to buy a scanner because I wanted to scan decaying old family photos and 35 mm slides.
While I had seen the possibilities of an inexpensive three-in-one scanner, I settled on this midrange Epson for several reasons.

Many less expensive machines don't offer the Epson 3170's automatic touch-up features or convenient slide scanning.

The automatic color restoration that can be done with the Epson Easy Photo Fix technology is excellent. The software does wonders with overexposed or faded slides and photos. It also removes dust specks and performs other editing operations, automatically or in two advanced manual modes. The process seems very fast for photos and documents, and somewhat slower for slides and filmstrips; all yield excellent results.

Some scanning units offered a slide scanning attachment that hooked to the scanner, but scanned the slide as it lay in a holder on the table. The Epson 3170 Photo Scanner is superior in that it uses one of three plastic slide holders that position on the scanning bed itself. Once the white mat necessary for photo and document scanning is removed from the lid, the machine is ready to go.

Of course, when working with slides, dedicated slide scanners offer better, faster results—as may more expensive scanners. However, I have a limited number of photos and slides to scan and may never do this kind of scanning again, so I decided not to purchase a more expensive machine.

The Epson Perfection 3170 photo scanner comes with a 3-by-9-inch transparency adapter (built into the scanner lid), three film holders (35mm slides, 35mm filmstrips, and medium format), and two CD-ROMs. When the set-up process is completed, the following software is installed: Epson Scan with Epson Easy Photo Fix technology, Epson Smart Panel, Adobe Photoshop Elements 2.0, ABBYY FineReader, Sprint OCR, NewSoft Presto! BizCard, and an electronic reference guide. A USB 2.0/1.1 cable, an AC adapter and power cable, and a scanner setup poster are included as well.

Although the scanner is marketed as a photo scanner, the unit provides a number of additional functions similar to those found in "3 in 1" printers or scanners.

You can get instructions from the Epson Smart Panel by clicking on the button for the required operation. The buttons appear on the left of the screen; the descriptions, suggestions, and directions are given on the right as the mouse passes over a button or a button is clicked. Epson Smart Panel is very easy to use, helpful, and a definite asset to operating the scanner.

Epson Smart Panel offers four work areas: Photo, Document, Image Enhancement, and "Share Your Photo."

The Photo area has buttons that start the scan application and then print the image as a photo. Images can be printed in various sizes; several photos can be placed on the same page. Collages can be created; several versions of the same image can be printed easily. Note that the quality of your final printed photo depends on the paper and printer used. Images can also be scanned, converted, and saved to a specific folder.

The Documents area has three buttons. The first turns the scanner into a digital copy machine. It copies photos or text directly. Size, darkness/lightness, and other factors can be modified, and multiple copies can be produced. A second button scans text to be edited, and the third button scans business cards and converts the images into text for organizing business cards in a specific software application.

Image Enhancement scans and sends images to a desired application for additional editing.

The "Share Your Photo" area has buttons that scan images for e-mail or for uploading onto an online photo display site.

Another of the Epson 3170 Photo Scanner's pluses is the inclusion of Adobe PhotoShop Elements 2.0 for advanced photo editing. I won't get into details of this program, as advanced editing can seem more than a little daunting. However, Adobe's program is highly recommended.

My only reservation about this product is related to the moderately weak documentation that doesn't always explain some of the complicated steps involved in various processes very clearly.

All in all, however, the Epson Perfection 3170 Photo is an excellent scanner with the flexibility and quality needed to make it useful for many years. I'll use it for personal and school-related purposes long after my photo project is complete. Features Rating: A

Ease of Use: As scanners go, the Epson 3170 is relatively easy to use with a lot of automatic functions, great supporting software, and buttons on the front of the scanner that really enhance operation.

However, some scanning processes are not intuitive, and the steps aren't always clearly explained in the online documentation or the online reference guide. Added to that, the only print documentation that comes with the scanner is a poster that explains how to get started but has a limited description of some of the processes and a limited trouble-shooting guide. Ease of Use Rating: B

Product Support: Technical support is available on the Web at support@ or via an automated telephone system at 800/922-8911. Customer service representatives are available by telephone at 562/276-4382 from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Pacific Standard Time, Monday to Friday. Note that there is no toll-free telephone number for support, and you will have to provide proof of purchase before customer support is provided by phone. Product Support Rating: A-

Recommendation: The Epson Perfection 3170 Photo Scanner is a dream, both in use and in results. The unit is flexible enough for the many photo projects conducted in the classroom. It rapidly produces sharp, high-quality prints at 2.8 milliseconds per line at 600 dpi and offers high-speed USB connectivity for Windows and Macintosh systems. Several of these units ought to be available in every building, for use by middle or high school students. I highly recommend the Epson 3170 for school and home uses. Highly recommended.

Reviewer: Charles Doe, Media Specialist, Hastings Area Schools, 232 W. Grand, Hastings, MI. 49058; Phone: 616/948-4400; E-mail:

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