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Scanner Shopping

Well, I'm behind on what I would have thought to be a quick re-start to my "Thumbnails" blog. I've been trying to get the old illustration-y stuff going, but we've run into a minor issue: Sam (still) hasn't purchased a scanner yet {blush}!

So how did I do this in the past, you ask? I do own a scanner... it's about |  -- yay --  | big. At nearly a decade old, its not exactly what I would call reliable in the fields of quality-scan and software. The software (probably) pre-dates Mac and PC compatibility, so I wouldn't even dream of looking for disk. Also, it's attached to an old laptop RIDDLED with viruses and malware, so to be blunt: it is dead to me. I think I could tolerate the scale of the flatbed, if it were at least able to scan over 500 dpi.

Most recently, to finish my portfolio I scanned all my artwork in from work, of which I felt guilty through the whole process. Sam's big fat conscience doesn't want the "Day Job" and freelance stuff co-mingling, even if it is working off my own clock. I don't need ethics muddying up my regular pay check and shot at health insurance. I value my job just as much as I value a nap after a large breakfast or spinning class. (If you know me, that's saying a lot!)

So to sum up, I'm in the market for a scanner.

I'm looking for advice on specifics. Epson has few stitches in my heart (in a warm and nostalgic way.) The scanner from work is an Epson and then of course most of the printers and scanners I ran through college were by Epson, so there's a bond of trust. I just equate this brand with quality, but I am open to suggestions. I'm currently eying the Perfection V500. Ignoring all PRAISE, I jump into the negative reviews just to get the public's honest opinion on the thing. I'm looking for an affordable (under $200 preferred,) color scanner which will render quality SHARP scans from either a sketchbook or some painted butcher's paper that I've just slapped down on the bed. So easy, yes?

If you have a recommendation please let me know.