1dollarscan.com – The Magazine Followup Review


Last fall I wrote a review of the scanning service 1DollarScan.com, a service where you send in your books and documents and they would professionally scan them into unprotected, high quality PDF documents.

In addition to basic scanning, they also offer some premium services (which I did not take advantage of) such as OCR, filenaming and high quality tuning.

Unfortunately, they did not accept magazines at that time, so I sent them a childhood book that was long out of print and not in the best shape (and I had a second copy of). While I enjoyed the book scanning service, I was bummed because I have literally stacks of magazines piled high in my storage shed – many of which are 20+ years old – that I would love to have digital, unprotected copies of.

When the company heard about my lengthy and detailed review, they invited me to try some of their premium features – and to sample their new service; scanning magazines. They asked if I would write up my results in a follow up review.

Who was I to refuse? I love the service and I have a LOT of magazines to scan.

Samples

For the purposes of this follow up review, I will not be covering previous material. You can read the first review here (recommended if you haven’t already had a look at it).

When compiling a list of material for my followup review, I knew I wanted mostly magazines to be submitted. My magazine collection runs the gambit from older magazines (over 5 years old) to newer stuff – and it spans both standard size and the European “oversize” format. I knew I would want to send a good representation.

During the ordering process, you’re offered a series of “extra options” (for an additional price) in addition to just the scanning of the material. I tested three of these services; high quality touch up, OCR and file naming.

It is worth noting that in addition to the scanning fees, magazines cost $1 more per set (1 set = 100 pages) to scan. Like books submitted, magazines are destroyed during the scanning process and are not returned.

Once I picked my content, I followed the simple rules for boxing and mailing them to 1DollarScan. I was issued a scan date about two weeks from my order date. By the guidelines of the site, you should have your material to them by the shipping date. I was several days late getting my material shipped to them – and they didn’t have any issue continuing the process.

The waiting game is always tough. I find the whole process very exciting and I can’t wait to plop down on the couch and pan through these books and magazines on my Asus Transformer tablet.

Reliable – as always – within a few days, I received my email stating that my scans were ready to pick up from the website.

I had 20 sets to work with – that is, 2000 pages total I could have scanned. This equated to 16 of my magazines. As mentioned in the previous article, a “set” is 100 pages and sets can span the content. So, a 190 page book requires 2 sets to be purchased. A 150 page book and a 75 page magazine would be 225 pages or 3 sets to purchase. Sets are $1 each as a base price – and the price goes up depending on options.

In addition to the 16 magazines, 1DollarScan also gave two of them a “high quality touch up” so I could compare each one.

Full Quality Zoomed

Filesizes are usually a pretty good indication of scan quality but as you may suspect, the content type will also dictate the ability to compress the images after they are scanned. One 96 page magazine clocked in at a mere 68MB. A standard format magazine of 114 pages clocked in at 152MB. The bigger format magazine of 118 pages weighs in at a hefty 195MB! These are what I call “full quality” versions of the file.

Obviously, you’re not going to be dropping a 195MB PDF to your Galaxy Nexus phone for viewing. That’s why 1DollarScan offers a process called “Fine Tune” that will “resample” your scanned PDFs and optimize it for a variety of devices. This process was all covered in the previous review. You can, of course, perform this yourself if you have the proper PDF software – but you might as well let them do it. It is free.

Another feature I sampled for the first time was the High Quality Touch Up option. This is supposed to offer better compression, angle correction and some other niceties.

As you can see, the process DID straighten the slight angle of the title page scan – but there was also a trade off in cropping of the edges.

Standard Scanning Service (click for full size)

 

HQ Scanning Service  (click for full size)

I went page by page over the content and was not convinced that HQ worked for me in this situation. If you’re viewing on a lower-than-PC resolution device, you’re probably going to Fine Tune/downsample it ANYWAY.

One of HQ’s promised features is better OCR – which was difficult for me to test as most of my PDF searches came back successful without the option.

My recommendation? Probably skip the High Quality touch up for most common consumer scans.  Maybe if you’re negotiating peace treaties with the Middle East – you might need to make sure everything is scanned tight.

Finally, there is the ability to do a High Quality Scanning option. For $2 more per set, you can get 600dpi scanning in B&W, gray or color. Maybe you have a new iPad “3” that you need that high resolution untouched (I can’t imagine how huge the file would be – and with no external memory on the iPad…?) – but for most “mere mortals”, you probably do not need this option either.

Along with all these “quality” related options, there are several other for-pay options available including an Express Service (which knocks down the wait time to 5-10 business days), Rescan Insurance (your material is kept for two weeks in case you need something corrected or rescanned) and a nifty service I’ve yet to try called Amazon Direct. This will allow you to ship content DIRECTLY from Amazon to the scanning facility and potentially save you some considerable shipping (especially if you’re a Prime member of Amazon). That’s an extra buck per set.

As I finish this article, I have another 20 sets on the way to digital bliss – more books from my childhood to be preserved forever. It is almost addictive; taking your thick stacks of paper and seeing them properly scanned in high quality to a file you can take with you anywhere – by phone, by tablet and by PC. Even now I’m dreaming about sending in some of my non-OOP books – those with gorgeous, first run covers (that have been subsequently reprinted with horrible artwork) – so I can preserve them forever digitally too.

1dollarScan continues to impress both with books and magazines. The turn around isn’t super fast – but if you’re willing to pay a little extra you can remedy that. In the end, what matters is that they treat your material with respect and care and the resulting file you receive will stand the test of time as your last permanent copy of the material.  For this – 1dollarScan delivers.

Here are a couple shots of the scans being viewed on my Samsung Galaxy Nexus and Asus Transformer.

About Shane Monroe

Shane R. Monroe has been doing technical and social commentary writing for over 20 years. Google+