UMAX Technologies

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UMAX Technologies
Founded 1987
Headquarters Taiwan

UMAX Technologies (Chinese: 世成科技; pinyin: Shìchéng Kējì), originally known as UMAX Computer Corporation, is a manufacturer of computer products, including scanners, mice, and flash drives, based in Taiwan. The company also uses the Yamada and Vaova brand names.[1]


UMAX was formerly a maker of Apple Macintosh clones, using the SuperMac brand name outside of Europe. Some of their models included the SuperMac S900/S910, J700, C500 and C500e/i/LT, C600e/v/LT/x and Aegis 200. The C500 was marketed as the Apus 2000 in Europe. After Steve Jobs returned to Apple as the new CEO, he revoked all of the clone producers' licenses to produce Mac clones except for UMAX,[2] due to their sub-US$1000 low-end offerings, a market in which Apple was not strong, and UMAX's stated desire to expand the Macintosh platform's presence in East Asian markets. UMAX could not remain profitable selling only these systems, however; it briefly made IBM PC compatible computers in the mid-1990s, but since then UMAX has mainly concentrated on manufacturing scanners.[3]

In 1995 Umax was the leading Taiwanese scanner maker, and with a market share of 13% second worldwide behind Hewlett-Packard (HP).[4] This continued to be the case throughout 1996.[5] According to PC Data figures, in 1997 Umax briefly overtook HP in some monthly sales.[6] According to the same source however, by 1999 Umax was being "eclipsed" by HP whose scanner market share doubled that year from 13% to 26%.[7] In some markets with high price-sensitivity like India for example, Umax continued to have a slight lead on HP throughout 1999-2000 with the two companies claiming 44% and respectively 40% of the scanner sales in this country (85% of which were for products costing less than 10,000 Rs.)[8] By 2003, HP and Canon were dominating the world's flatbed scanner market, "accounting for a combined unit market share of 81 per cent."[9]

In 2002 UMAX started to charge its US customers for scanner drivers—a practice that soon proved controversial.[10][11]

Until their exit from the desktop scanner marked in 2002, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen used Umax as its OEM for these products.[12]

UMAX also made a 1.3 megapixel digital camera called the AstraPix 490. It is capable of recording video clips, functioning as a webcam and can even be used to listen to music encoded in MP3 format.


UMAX PowerLook II
  • Astra 610S and 1200S; these were cloned and/or repackaged (OEM'd) for many other manfuacturers[13]
  • Astra 2100U
  • Astra 2400S, NCR 53C80 SCSI/Intel 8031 based 600x1200dpi
  • Astra 4900
  • Astra 4950
  • Astra 5600
  • Astra 6700
  • AstraSlim
  • AstraSlim SE
  • PowerLook 1000
  • PowerLook 1120
  • PowerLook 2100XL
  • PowerLook 180
  • PowerLook 270

Scanner software[edit]

UMAX offers some semi-free (in the sense that some versions/updates cost money and some don't) basic scanner software for Windows (up to XP) and Mac OS:

  • VistaScan is their basic TWAIN scanner module, which also contains WIA drivers in its newer versions. The user interface is somewhat simplified and a little gaudy. Not all versions work with all products. In general, VistaScan versions after 3.55 no longer support SCSI scanners. The German site of UMAX has a (bilingual) web page/wizard that helps the user select the proper version for their scanner.[14]
  • MagicScan is the higher-end version of the above with a user interface aimed at more experienced users; it did not ship with the cheaper scanners (Astra etc.) but only with the higher-end (PowerLook) scanners. It does however work with many of the cheaper UMAX scanners.[15][16] Versions after 4.71 don't ship with SCSI drivers anymore.

Additionally, UMAX offers more sophisticated (typically non-free) third-party photo scanning/correction software:

  • binuscan PhotoPerfect, which is a standalone application and has a plug-in for MagicScan; PhotoPerfect is also bundled with high-end scanners[16][17] and sold separately for others[18]
  • SilverFast is compatible with many UMAX scanner (especially the SCSI ones); its entry-level (SE) version is shipped with some newer UMAX scanners.[19][20] and offered separately for others[21][22]

For optical character recognition, some UMAX scanners came bundled with OmniPage[17] and others with Abby FineReader.[20]

The Unix sane software generally supports well the Umax SCSI scanners, with varying degrees of support for the other ones (USB, Firewire, parallel).[23]

See also[edit]


External links[edit]