Scanner/camera driver conflicts, the mythhical 8mm to VHS adapter

Week of November 16, 2003

Q: I have a three year-old HP printer/scanner/copier. I was recently given a Fuji digital camera and I take lots of photos with it.  

The two don’t like each other. The driver from the camera displaces the scanner driver. Four times I have had to go through a dreadful process when I want to use the scan function of the HP. I have to manually uninstall the printer, and then reinstall it. I lose all the fax numbers and it takes a long time to fix everything. I have contacted HP and they said they have no further help.  

Is there a better way to do this?

– Bette McDevitt, North Hills, PA

A: It sounds like you have an unsolvable software conflict between the digital camera driver and the scanner driver. If HP cannot troubleshoot the software problem, it is unlikely I will be able to do so either.   Nor would I want to, when better solutions are available.

Your first option is to get a memory card reader. Instead of connecting the camera to the computer, you connect the card reader to a USB port and leave it connected at all times. If you are out of available USB ports, you can buy an inexpensive USB hub to provide additional open ports. USB 2.0 and Firewire card readers are also available if your computer has the appropriate ports. They download pictures faster than the USB versions.

To download your pictures, take the memory card out of the camera and put it in the card reader, which downloads the images. There will be no need to install the camera driver. Card readers are available for all memory card formats and are available for between $10 and $50. Even if you do not have a software conflict compelling you to purchase one, they are a great convenience for every digital photographer.   I always recommend new digital photographers buy one when they buy their camera.

The second option is to upgrade your system. Three years is pretty good life out of a multifunction unit and newer equipment is likely to scan and print much better. Since you have a digital camera, I recommend buying a photo-quality printer and a scanner. You could then disconnect your multifunction unit and use it as a stand-alone copier and fax.  

You can get a great photo printer and a scanner for under $150 total. The Epson Stylus Photo 825 is one of my favorite photo printers and is only $99. It has a built-in card reader that will not only download pictures to your computer, but will allow you to print directly from the memory card without turning on your computer.   It’s very easy to use and the photo quality is excellent. Because you would be spending around $20 on the card reader, the additional cost to add the printer is only around $80.00.

For a scanner, Canon’s LiDE20 at $49 delivers great quality and convenient operation.

With this $150 upgrade, you will eliminate the software conflict, get better and easier scanning, and be able to make photo-quality prints from your new digital camera.

Q: I sell in a discount store and customers have come in looking for a cassette adapter to play 8mm videotapes on a VHS machine. People borrow camcorders from friends, then have no way to play the tapes themselves.  Is there an adapter that allows this?
-Jerry Gilligan, Pittsburgh, PA

A: There is no such adapter available. Use this fact to try and sell them an 8mm camcorder of their own, or recommend they dub to VHS before returning the camera.

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