UMAX Technologies

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UMAX Technologies
Productsscanners, printers, software, peripherals

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. 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$1,000 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, 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 40%, respectively, 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 driver upgrades for its scanners—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 manufacturers[13]
  • Astra 1220P
  • Astra 2000U
  • Astra 2100U
  • Astra 2400S, NCR 53C80 SCSI/Intel 8031 based 600x1200dpi
  • Astra 3450
  • 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 do not) basic scanner software for Microsoft Windows (up to Windows XP) and Mac OS:

  • VistaScan is their basic TWAIN scanner module, which also contains Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) drivers in its newer versions. It features a simpler interface compared to MagicScan. However, 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) webpage/wizard that helps the user select the proper version for their scanner.[14]
  • MagicScan is the higher-end version of VistaScan, 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 no longer ship with SCSI drivers.

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 ABBYY 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]


  1. ^ UMAX's website in the UK[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ Article[dead link] at
  3. ^ "The History of UCC and the SuperMac Computers: 'The End'". SuperMac Insider. republished at 2003.
  4. ^ Lee, Chung-Shing; Pecht, Michael (1997). Electronics Industry in Taiwan. CRC Press. p. 43. ISBN 978-0-8493-3170-1.
  5. ^ Engardio, Pete (5 May 1996). "Taiwan's High Tech Race". BusinessWeek. Bloomberg. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  6. ^ A&R Partners for UMAX (16 March 2002). "Industry Analysts Score UMAX As New Market Leader". (Press release). Fremont, California. Archived from the original on 22 December 2002. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  7. ^ Magee, Mike (11 August 1999). "HP thrashing UMAX in scanner market". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  8. ^ Ramalingam, Aparna (7 August 2000). "Growing add-ons: An incisive analysis of the booming peripherals market in the country". Business Today. Living Media India Ltd. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  9. ^ ERC Canada (3 December 2003). "Flatbed scanner market isn't flat at all". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  10. ^ Orlowski, Andrew (3 June 2002). "Now you pay for Drivers – UMAX pioneers new price gouge". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  11. ^ Orlowski, Andrew (4 June 2002). "UMAX US offers price cut … for free drivers: Less than zero?". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Heidelberg to exit desktop scanners". MA Business Limited. 11 April 2002. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  13. ^ Comment utiliser au mieux un scanner Umax ou Mustek
  14. ^ "Umax Download Area". Retrieved 2014-02-12.
  15. ^ CNET Staff (2 September 2009). "Using MagicScan instead of VistaScan to avoid the RAM Doubler conflict". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  16. ^ a b Fulton, Wayne (2004). "A few scanning tips: Umax MagicScan 4.2". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  17. ^ a b LiPetri, Joe (8 January 2001). "MWSF: Umax Unveils Macworld Product Lineup". MacWorld. IDG; PCWorld. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  18. ^ "Scanners". Archived from the original on 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2014-02-12.
  19. ^ Cohen, Peter (17 February 2005). "Umax intros Astra 6700 scanner". IDG. PCWorld. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  20. ^ a b Jantz, Richard (5 October 2005). "UMAX Astra 6700 USB 2.0 Scanner with SilverFast SE". Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  21. ^ "SilverFast supports more Umax scanners, Umax offers deal". IDG. PCWorld. 3 November 2003. Retrieved 25 August 2016.
  22. ^ "Scanners". Archived from the original on 2014-02-19. Retrieved 2014-02-12.
  23. ^ "SANE: Backends (Drivers)". 2010-06-09. Retrieved 2014-02-12.

External links[edit]