Old photos are an important link to the histories of our families and our communities. But they take up space (especially when stored in albums), they are prone to decay (many colour snaps from the 1970s and 80s have faded badly over the intervening years), and since there is often only one extant print they are vulnerable to disasters such as fires and floods.
Consequently, it's not unusual for people to want to digitise old photos so they can be more easily shared with other people, and restored where necessary.
The problem is that scanning hundreds of photos with a conventional flatbed scanner is time-consuming and tedious.
Pitched as "the world's fastest personal photo scanner," the FF-680W scans 4x6in (10x15cm) photos at a rate of one per second (at 300dpi; 600 and 1200dpi are also supported), and you can drop a batch of up to 36 mixed-sized photos into the feeder without worrying about alignment.
A variety of sizes are accommodated up to 8.5in (22cm) wide, and it even scans panoramas up to 36in (91cm) long.
The two-sided scanner reads both sides in one pass, which is particularly useful for capturing handwritten notes such as "Uncle Mick and Auntie Jean, Bondi, New Year's Day 1953" from the back of a photo.
Epson officials said the software bundle provided with the FF-680W covered editing, smart file organisation tools, and uploading to cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Drive.
The software also handles auto enhancement, colour restoration, red-eye reduction, de-skew, crop, and rotate.
In addition to photo-related software, the bundle also incorporates Epson ScanSmart for scanning, emailing and organising documents such as contracts, invoices and receipts at up to 45ppm. The built-in Nuance OmniPage software allows scans to be stored as searchable PDFs.
Epson Australia consumer division general manager for sales, Bruce Bealby, said "There was clearly a need for an ultra-fast and easy scanning solution that enabled people to digitise hard copy photos often stored in albums or boxes and vulnerable to many kinds of irreversible damage. The new FastFoto FF-680W not only saves these photos but also comes with a host of new features, making it easier to save and bring memories back to life using the latest digital technology."
He claimed it would cost several thousand dollars to have a collection of 5000 photos digitised professionally, or many days to scan them all using a typical home MFD. But the job — including the restoration of faded images — could be done in a morning using an FF-680W.
And once all the old photos had been digitised, one still had a document scanner to help deal with tax and other records, he said.