The Veho VFS-004 Deluxe Negative & Slide Scanner is a standalone USB device dedicated to 35mm slides and negatives.

Film adaptors (for use with slides and negatives) on scanners are nothing new. But as anyone who has ever tried to archive an entire collection of slides will know, using a normal flatbed scanner for this purpose is frequently far from easy. The film adaptor is often fiddly to use for any length of time, and many scanners have difficulty distinguishing between slides and negatives, and more standard A4 material.

So enter, then, the Veho VFS-004. This standalone USB device (no power supply is needed) is roughly the same size as a compact photo printer, and is dedicated to 35mm slides and negatives (both colour and black & white). The installation routine is straightforward, and consists of loading up the drivers and additional applications, and then starting the calibration process, which takes just seconds.

The Veho VFS-004 is somewhat basic in operation. A pair of tray holders is included, and they take up to three slides or six negatives. Once you've inserted one of the holders, you see a live picture of what's being viewed. You then pull or push the holder to line the viewer up with the negative that you want. Once you're happy, click the button on the top of the scanner and save to a directory of your choice.

Even at the highest quality setting, the Veho VFS-004 takes just a couple of seconds to transfer an image, and we reckon you could load up a holder with slides and save to disk in the space of a minute - something not realistic with the typical flatbed.

The scan quality is quite good. At the highest setting, the Veho VFS-004 produces 4MB+ files with a resolution of 2592x1680. Blown up on a 1,680x1,050 flat-panel, the pictures continued to pack plenty of detail with no sign of pixellation.

Both slides and negatives transfer well but, while colour is fine, the Veho VFS-004 isn't quite so good on mono images. Where the subject is a photo, the scanner was fine. However, slides depicting illustrations from Robert Hooke's Micrographia lost some of the fine detail that's a hallmark of this work.

Unfortunately, the Veho VFS-004 is let down by rather clunky software. The scanner operation is fine, so it's a shame that, in Vista, the scan software threw up so many faults. From annoying error messages on missing DLLs, to random crashes, we experienced a variety of niggles. Fire up the software front-end and it's fine, but switch to another program and come back and the scanner frequently appears to have frozen, or refuses to display the correct colour.

Only some of the problems were resolved by downloading new drivers. The included image editing software (ArcSoft's Photo Impression 6) is functional but basic, but you'll probably have your own software should you want to start truly manipulating images.

OUR VERDICT

In our book, simple can be very good. The mainly manual Veho VFS-004 isn't the height of sophistication, but if you want to transfer your collection of slides or negatives to hard drive, the results should be much faster and of a higher quality than when using a flatbed scanner with a film adaptor. But while we really the liked the VFS-004 in many ways, we can't look past its software faults.