First Looks: Contex Crystal Tx 40"

28 Feb, 2003 By: Michael Lennox

Wide-format color scanner.

Contex Crystal Tx 400
400 wide scanner

pros: Ease of use; precision; speed.
cons: None significant.
price: MSRP Base $13,900; Plus upgrade $2,000

Contex Scanning Technology Inc.

The Contex Crystal Tx 40" wide-format scanner impresses with features that not only enable excellent scanning results, but also make it easy to use. Support for FireWire enables the Crystal Tx to act as a true plug-and-play device. This, coupled with easy-to-use calibration wizards, an automatic maintenance system, and a suite of capable software, makes the Crystal a welcome addition to any environment in need of large-format scanning capabilities.

With two SCSI ports, the Crystal continues to support the most common interface used for large-format scanners. The two FireWire ports, however, enable multiple computers to connect in whatever mode is most appropriate for your environment. SCSI offers speed and supports a wider variety of platforms, including legacy systems. An operating system that supports plug-and-play causes the FireWire connection to automatically detect the scanner. You also gain one-touch ability to scan, e-mail scans, and when the scanner is used in tandem with a large-format printer, copy.

Once connected, the Crystal Tx performs admirably. It processes black-and-white documents at 400dpi at an impressive 4ips (inches per second) for the base model and 8ips for the Plus model. When scanning in grayscale or color, the scanner captures 14 bits per color for each pixel. This allows the scanner to capture 14 bits for grayscale images and 42 bits for color, sending the most accurate 8 bits or 24 bits to the computer. The Crystal Tx scans 3ips at 400dpi in 8-bit mode and 0.6ips in 24-bit RGB color. The Crystal handles documents up to 40" wide and 0.6" thick.

The Contex Crystal Tx 40 scanner processes black-and-white documents at an impressive 400dpi at 4ips.
Contex provides three powerful pieces of software with the Crystal: WIDEsystem, WIDEimage, and JETimage. Combined, these provide a flexible, powerful front-end to the scanning system. WIDEsystem acts as an additional layer between the Contex software and the operating system. It includes features such as power management and status monitoring. WIDEimage is an easy-to-use scanning application with useful image adjustment and enhancement tools that give you complete control of the scanning process and final image. Automatic paper size detection and auto-alignment tools make setup easier-you can place a document anywhere on the scanner and begin scanning. Photoshop and AutoCAD plug-ins enable you to scan directly from either application and use the scanned image immediately. WIDEimage also offers batch conversion, scanning, and printing features for use in production environments.

JETimage, Contex' scan-to-print solution, has several features that make it easy to attain scans that are particularly well suited to printed output. These include automatic alignment, basic image controls, and excellent half-toning. Casual users who just want to make a copy of a large document will appreciate JetImage's easy-to-use interface. In a production environment, JETimage Pro provides additional features such as printing more than one scanned image at a time, nesting and tiling, and material tracking. With support for many of the most common wide-format printers and the ability to use any Windows-based printing device, JETimage makes it easy to use the Contex Crystal Tx as the front end for a large-format copy system.

The Contex Crystal Tx provides superior scanning capabilities in a user-friendly system that combines fast and flexible hardware with excellent software. Whether you are looking at a large format scanner to archive legacy drawings, to act as a front end for a scan-to-print system, or for general use, the Crystal Tx is worth a look.

About the Author: Michael Lennox

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