Using my Canon N1240U Scanner with Windows 8

As I was doing my taxes today, I had the need to scan some documents. The last time I had used my scanner, however, was still under Windows 7. Unfortunately, I ran into a couple of problems trying to use it under Windows 8. I haven’t found a lot of information on this particular setup, so I thought I would share my experience (and resolution).

Preamble: 32 bit only

The steps outlined below only worked on the 32 bit version of Windows. I have not been able to get the scanner to work with my Surface Pro (which runs the 64 bit version of Windows 8 Pro). There don’t seem to be any 64 bit drivers available from Canon. Not for Windows 8, 7 Vista or XP.

Getting the driver and tools: simple

When you go to Canon’s download page for the N1240U, there isn’t actually a driver for Windows 8 (or Windows 7 for that matter). The latest they offer is a Vista driver. So I got that driver and it installed just fine (this was back when I upgraded to Windows 8).

I also got the CanoScan Toolbox, because I like how simple it is to create (multi-page) PDFs with this tool.

Actually using the scanner: not so much

So today was the first time I actually tried to use the scanner. Alas, the CanoScan Toolbox did not work. When it was time to select an acquisition device, my scanner showed up in the list (alongside my Windows Phone, which I guess registers as an image acquisition (WIA) device  as well). Upon selecting the scanner, however, I just got the message

	Unable to open TWAIN source

If you search for that error message, there are a couple of tips to resolve this. The most common seems to be to add the directory containing the driver to the PATH environment variable (see this blog post by Jeff Widmer). I have tried that, however, it didn’t work for me. Since most web pages I found are from the Vista/Windows 7 era, maybe my problem is a different one. I was tempted to start up Process Monitor to see what exactly CanoScan was trying to do. But because I do enough of that stuff at work, I didn’t want to spend more time than necessary on analyzing and debugging other people’s software.

Other ways to scan: nope

So I just tried to determine whether it was a problem with the driver or an application problem, by trying to scan with other applications I had installed.

The Photos app in Windows 8 unfortunately only seems to import from WIA sources, because it didn’t even recognize the scanner.

In Adobe Photoshop Elements 9, I got the same error message.

Next up, Microsoft OneNote 2013. I have been using OneNote since 2003 and didn’t know OneNote even supported scanners, but it does (and with OCR, too). At first, it scanned the image successfully, but some of the colors came out wrong and it only wanted to save the file in PNG format, which didn’t work for the images I had. I guess the use case for scanning in OneNote is slightly different than what I wanted to accomplish.

I had thought that Microsoft Word had an option to scan and insert pictures (and it once did), but for the 2010 version the support document for scanning images simply recommends “Use the software that was included with your scanner to scan and save the image to your computer.” and the same seems to be the case for the 2013 version I have.

As far as I can tell, those all the applications I have that support scanners.

Resolution: scan with IrfanView

One of the articles I had found while looking into the TWAIN error message above, however, recommended using IrfanView to check whether the driver was installed correctly. Because I find its enormous feature set a bit overwhelming, I have never been a big fan of IrfanView. But lo and behold, it did recognize my scanner and produced flawless scans.

So I guess I will be sticking with it for the rare instances that I do need to scan something. If anyone reading this knows of an easier scanning solution for Windows 8, please leave a comment.

Getting Ready for Surface Pro

On 15 March 2013 my Laptop celebrated its 7th birthday. While it’s still working, needless to say, it is pretty slow and I spend quite a bit of time waiting.

Because I wanted a device that was a good compromise between the portability of a tablet and the power and compatibility of a PC, I’ve had my eyes on the Microsoft Surface Pro for quite a while. As the Surface Pro is supposed to become available really soon here in Germany, I have been looking into what I would need to make it work as a replacement for my current laptop + docking station setup.

In his Going Pro series, Paul Thurrott has some interesting pointers, e.g. for replacing the desktop. There are certainly some trade-offs in this endeavor, but from what I have seen and read so far about Surface Pro, these do seem worth it for my particular situation.

Required accessories

Because I want the Surface Pro to replace my desktop and connect to all my other devices, there are a couple of things I will need in addition to the Surface itself. Please note that since I do not yet have a Surface device, I cannot test any of these accessories. I will do that, though, once I get my Surface Pro.

There has been quite a discussion about the amount of storage available for apps and data on the Surface devices which many people feel is too little. But since the Surface has a microSDXC slot, I can just get a memory card such as this 64 GB microSDXC card and upgrade its storage for about 50 EUR.

Because the Surface Pro comes with only one USB 3 and no Ethernet ports, I will need a USB 3.0 docking station. In the article I linked to earlier, Paul Thurrott mentioned a Pluggable USB 3.0 docking station. I haven’t been able to find that exact model on Amazon Germany, although they do have a couple of comparable models. Such as the i-TEC Docking Station Advance USB 3.0 or the Toshiba PA3927E-1PRP Dynadock U3. When you look at their specs and pictures, they all seem extremely similar, like it was in fact the same device made by some OEM. Of course I don’t know this for sure, but I think I will just get the cheapest one of them and try it out.

The final piece I will need is an external Blu-ray disk drive. I wish video-on-demand could fulfill all my video needs, but for better or worse, I still have a lot of DVDs that I want to watch. And since I have a Full-HD display and then finally a computer that will be fast enough to decode them, I want to watch Blu-rays, too. Based on their Amazon reviews I think the Samsung SE-506AB external Blu-ray burner looks like a good choice. It comes with a software called CyberLink BluRay Disc Suite which I hope is enough to watch Blu-rays. This seems to be a piece of software that is only available as OEM, so I haven’t been able to look up reviews on it. We’ll see.

Conclusion

I hope the Surface Pro will become available soon (it was promised for late March/early April). With the accessories mentioned above, I think it will make  good laptop replacement and connect to all my existing peripherals. I will report back once I have everything and had a chance to test it out.