From the horse’s mouth
HP has introduced a scanning system for one of their newer multifunction laser printers that would be considered out of the ordinary. Some of the press about this technology focuses on the 3D imaging but I see the technology as another way to image objects in a manner that can suit small businesses.
Here, the system, known as “TopShot” uses a document camera with integrated flash heads rather than a scanning bar to scan a document. The camera is mounted on a folding arm and sets up in a manner similar to how you would set up an overhead projector.
When you start the scan process, the camera would take six images, three with the flash and three in ambient lighting conditions. There is the use of different angles and exposure setups which can suit different requirements.
The main benefits offered is that you can obtain a higher-quality scan from bound documents like books. Ordinarily you would have to place the book face down on your scanner’s glass and, perhaps, press down on the scanner’s lid to obtain a high-quality copy. This can damage the book’s binding and can also place the scanner’s lid and hinge at risk of damage. Some scanners and multifunction printers have implemented “pantograph” lid hinges so that the lid can be lifted over bound documents.
The TopShot scanning system would be at an advantage when you are dealing with very old and fragile documents; and would lend itself to those of us who deal with antiquarian books and similar material.
There is also the ability to use the scanner as a “white-box” photography studio for photographing small objects. HP are targeting this feature at online traders who want to get pictures of the goods they have for sale so they can populate their online catalogues or eBay sites. It would also please users who write blogs or Web articles discussing particular objects; people who are creating documents like inventories, manuals and catalogues or working with article databases.
The first implementation of this scanning technology will be in the form of the HP TopShot LaserJet Pro 200 colour laser multifunction printer. Like what is common with devices that offer “cutting-eddge” features, some other features tend to go by the wayside. In this example, the printer was less than spectacular judging from what I read of the site. Here, it didn’t have auto-duplex printing nor was the printing speed all that quick.
Of course, this printer has the HP ePrint functionality and the ability to work with mobile devices using AirPrint, Google’s CloudPrint or the HP ePrint Home & Biz mobile app. I would also like to see the TopShot scanning mechanism available as a dedicated device that is either connected directly to the host computer or to a network, which could allow it to work as a complementary tool for those of us who have good multifunction printers.
The big question with TopShot is the quality of document scans or object pictures taken using this setup compared to traditional setups. Could a TopShot printer yield a better electronic image or copy of a page compared to a regular scanner or multifunction printer? Could the TopShot take a better quality picture of a small object than a regular digital camera user working with a “white-box” setup?