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Scanning the horizons

Sicos DMS 2000

A4-page scanner For Windows 3.1 or Windows 95 PC.Pounds 129 + VAT Available generally through mail orderManufacturer: Sicos International Eurebis Distribution Unit J7, Ballymount Drive Walkinstown, Dublin 12 Tel: 353 1 456 9383 http:www.sicos.com

A page scanner is great for turning printed words back into something you can use. It lets you take a worksheet or a class list and recycle the text. You can even use it to copy a map, diagram or photo into some work.

You may have a scanner in school but if it's on another computer in another building, it's not much use. Now, at a reasonable price, you could have your own.

The Sicos scanner is small enough to sit between a keyboard and screen. You feed it a page, and this starts up a program which scans it. You can then leave it to read the page, run your word processor and drop in the text, copy it, print it or fax it through a fax modem. And while the software is just adequate, the scanner will work with any software that uses the "Twain" industry standard. You need to install a small circuit board which powers the scanner, inside the computer.

I tested many pages of print, an itemised phone bill and a Pounds 10 note. The phone bill needed some editing as its print was uneven, but the pages of text were easily readable. It didn't like skewed, shiny or creased pages and my forged note fooled no one because this is not a colour scanner.

You can get hand-held scanners which are excellent for copying small diagrams, for the same money. But this whole page scanner is even handier, and good value for money.

So while cheapest is rarely best with computers, if you haven't yet found a way to print money, maybe you should get this.

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