The V700 improves upon its popular predecessor, the Perfection 4990 Pro, not to mention that it beats that model's price by about $50. You might also notice, however, that its design radically differs from last year's models; a switch from all rounded curves to sharp angles and corners. I happen to prefer the flat-topped version, because every large object on my desk must be able to hold a pile of something or other. Speaking of which, you'll need to allocate a big chunk of desk space for the V700: 6 by 12 by 20 inches.
Epson includes a variety of carriers in the box: one holds 12 slides, another four six-frame film strips, one for two 4x5 transparencies, and one for eight medium-format frames. They're all well designed and easy to load, and they each snap into a notch to lock in place on the scanbed. My biggest problem with the myriad mounts is finding places to put them. A version of the V700, the V750-M Pro, also offers a liquid mount, as used by drum scanners. This allows the film to press directly against the glass, which maximizes sharpness and minimizes artifacts. Though the V700 doesn't supply this, it does use separate lenses for reflective (hard-copy) and transmissive (slides and negatives) originals; since the latter generally need to be optically enlarged far more than the former, the lenses need to be optimized differently. One lens is designed for optimum resolving at a horizontal resolution of 4,800dpi, the other, 6,400dpi. Of course, the scanner can interpolate way beyond that, and for small originals, you generally find yourself in interpolation territory.
Scanning can be as slow or fast as you make it. Two slides, using autoexposure and unsharp masking on medium, scanned at 48-bit color and 9,600dpi--a pretty typical job--takes only about 44 seconds. There's some overhead, however: it takes about 44 seconds for the scanner to warm up, and oddly, it pauses to warm up in the middle of scans--or at least it claims to be doing so. If you load on the works, such as turning on Digital ICE postprocessing at its highest quality, a single slide can take as long as nearly 11 minutes. Keep in mind that these are on my oh-so-real-world work system, a 2.4GHz P4 with 1.25GB RAM, via the FireWire connection. Your mileage may vary.
Overall, the scan quality was excellent across a variety of reflective and positive originals. (Test negatives were unavailable at the time this review was written. When our film scanning tests are completed, that information will be added to this review.) It produces scans with a broad dynamic range, decent color accuracy, relatively neutral grays, and sharp line art. It even managed to produce printable photos from some 50-odd-year-old Minox slides, tiny 8mm-by-11mm originals. The color restoration isn't terribly accurate, but the scans are pleasing, and if you have only light damage to your photos, the automatic tools should suffice.
The $549 price tag may seem a bit steep to a market used to sub-$100 models and everything-to-everyone multifunctions, but a good slide scan still requires an excellent optical system and a low-noise sensor. Furthermore, the Epson Perfection V700 Photo is completely sealed for a dust-free inside. Serious pros with thousands of slides may still be better served by a dedicated slide scanner with a batch feeder, but most of us can probably be happy with this multipurpose maven.