HP Scanning, the scanner control utility supplied by HP, tries to be clever. Rather than doing a low-resolution preview scan before you get the opportunity to change settings, it takes a 200ppi scan, sufficient for an archival PDF file.
If this is what you want, the file is transferred to your PC as soon as you finish with the setting screens, saving one whole scan cycle. However, most of the time you'll need to change the resolution or colour depth and both these functions force a rescan.
HP doesn't quote scan times on this machine, but we found it quite a bit quicker than the Scanjet G3110. A 200ppi text page took just 15s to scan, while the combined times to scan and OCR A 300ppi page into Word came to 27s. A 15 x 10cm photo scan at 600ppi took 36s. All these are very respectable, for what is basically a budget scanner.
HP labels this machine a photo scanner, which is slightly odd as it’s no better suited to scanning photos than any other general-purpose device. There is no transparency scanner in the lid, so it can't scan slides and it's just as good at scanning document pages and OCRing them as any other machine in its class.
The 200ppi text scan is very readable and, although the same page scanned at 300ppi and converted to editable text showed a few recognition and formatting errors, it was generally a very reasonable conversion, given it was entirely made using default settings.
Our test photo scan was too vivid in the greens and reds, though this could be toned down at scan time. The swatches on the colour test target were a little grainy, too, with a slight red shift, but for day-to-day scanning, they’d be good enough. Gratings on the MTF test showed grades of grey, rather than black and white, but again these are acceptable for a scanner at this price.
The HP ScanJet 300 is a very serviceable personal scanner, suitable for document and photo print scanning, but not up to semi-pro standards. LED illumination and CIS image sensors, both used in this machine, still can't reproduce text or images with the same quality as cold cathode lamps and CCD transducers.