Even though the vast majority of people have switched to digital photography, someone in your family likely has a box of old pictures stashed away somewhere. Birthday parties, Thanksgivings, bar mitzvahs -- there's probably some record of your childhood trapped in there. (My family certainly does.) Add in the fact that there's less and less need to own a printer, plus the tedium of scanning, and it all means those memories are likely to stay offline. Epson is looking to unearth that treasure pile of moments with the new FastFoto FF-640, which can scan, sort and even post your entire photo collection at a rate of one photo per second.
Unlike an all-in-one printer, the FF-640 doesn't try to do everything; it's a scanner through and through. The document feeder can accommodate up to 30 photos at a time -- a vast improvement over whatever you can fit on a flatbed. The scanner also captures both sides, so you can record all the tasty data that might be printed on the back, like date stamps from the development lab and handwritten notes. You won't need to babysit the 640 to make sure everything fed into the machine correctly: The scanner can detect different photo dimensions, and also autocorrects the angle the photo was scanned at. No more making sure everything is straight or the same size -- the FastFoto is smart enough to figure out what's what.
The FF-640 can lift the burden of organization as well. The included software makes it easy to automatically name and sort the photos into appropriate folders, and create searchable metadata for all of them, including the original date of the image. Even more impressive is the photo processing built in: Rather than drag your photos into dedicated image-editing software like Photoshop, the FastFoto can do basic touches like red-eye removal and color-restoration with a click. White Christmases of decades past will no longer be a sickly yellow -- and mind you, my family has a lot of photos of beige Christmases and pinkish birthdays, making photo correction a time-consuming process. Once you're done making your cousins look a little less demonic, it's easy to send those photos to Dropbox, Google Drive, Facebook or Instagram. (Because there aren't enough embarrassing pics of me on there already, Mom.)
The FastFoto can also scan other types of documents, like bills and invoices and the random other little bits of paper I've accumulated over the years -- which is great, because I have a lot of crap that I'd love to digitize, and I hate the flatbed scanner on my all-in-one printer. The FF-640 can scan 45 pages per minute, meaning I can make quick work of those file boxes clogging up my office.
It's a good thing that the FastFoto FF-640 is versatile, at least: At $650, it's priced a bit steep for something you might use only once. It might be worth it when you consider that you won't have to pay someone else to scan photos for you, and the time savings are immense -- one photo per second means you can theoretically polish off a box of 1,000 photos in under a half hour, so you'll have to find some other way to spend your rainy days.