It’s well known that scanners are pretty popular and extremely useful devices that widely used during the office work in almost every single company. In case you are handling a lot of paper and documents when working, this device is completely indispensable for you. But how to choose scanner that suits best for your case? It’s not so easy task.
So this time we decided to share the basic things you need to know when choosing a scanner for your personal PC or corporate needs.
What to Know When Choosing a Scanner?
Types of Scanners
Nowadays there are a few different variations of scanners in the market, so you should choose the device that suits best depending on your needs. To make sure yourself, before the purchase create a list with the tasks that you are going to perform with the future device to better understand your needs.
This is the most common type of scanner and ideal for scanning documents on the go. All you need to do is to put the document on special surface and scan it. Such scanners vary in dimensions, but usually can fit common or legal-sized documents (the advantage of such scanners is that they have a flexible cover and that allows user to fit and scan pretty large items like books, magazines etc.). Some of the models have built-in Transparency Unit (like Epson Perfection V600) that allows to scan slides, negatives or medium-format panoramic film. Flatbed scanners are the great choice when you need to scan some magazine article, book chapter or printed image.
This type of scanner is not so common. Film scanners designed to capture the data from the specific materials like slides, negatives and/or transparencies. That makes film scanners the best option for converting old film originals to usable digital files for social sharing, printing or archiving. Nowadays there is a range of models on the market and the choice depends on your needs. You might want to purchase the basic device like Digitnow 5/10Megapixels that just producing a web-shareable image or the top-of-the-line device for creating large-scale, print-worthy files. Usually advanced film scanners are used in photo labs or design studios and widely used by pros.
Sheet-fed scanners are widely used and closely resemble a compact laser or inkjet printer. Most likely, sheet-fed scanner is the best deal to scan large amount of documents (this type of scanner is also known as Document scanner). Smart devices like Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 allow to automate the scanning process of large volumes of office documentation and perfectly suitable for small offices and corporate departments.
Planetary scanners are used to scan books, magazines and bound documents without the need for cutting or causing damage. Commonly these devices are used to convert old-time books or documents to digital.
Modern scanners using 2 different technologies—CIS and CCD as the image sensor.
Contact Image Sensors (CIS) technology is used in most of common devices (especially in desktop scanners), it allows to achieve a quite good quality and leaving the device thin. In such models user can scan images by placing on the glass and capturing the entire area.
Charge-coupled devices (CCD) technology is much more difficult and often used by large-format scanners like Epson DS-50000. CCD scanners give the excellent color rendition and best result quality. Scanners that use CCD technology often contain 4 arrays of sensors (red, green, and blue filters).
Types and Sizes of Scan Area
Most of the scanners designed to work with 8.5″ x 11″ and smaller media. In case you are going to scan a bigger one, you need to check what media sizes are compatible with the model you are going to purchase (usually such devices have bigger dimensions and the price is significantly higher).
Resolution takes the first place among characteristics of any scanner’s specification. Resolution helps to better understand how accurate the scanning is. In case you are not working with photos or print—you will be OK with basic 4800dpi model like Epson Perfection V19. If you are a pro or you just need a maximum quality, you need to check models with 9600 dpi like Epson Perfection V550 (they are much expensive, but you have a better result).
One more important thing for all scanners is bits. The majority of office and home devices are 24-bit scans and putting 8 bits per channel. In most cases it’s enough, but the final images will have less smooth colors.
48-bits scanners allow to achieve almost perfect quality making colors more smooth and putting 16 bits per channel (such scanners are widely used among photographers and designers). You need to keep in mind that almost all monitors display only 24-bits and you need to realize if your display will allow you to see 48 bit colors. More on bits here.
Scanning speed of the specific scanner depends on the type of device.
As mentioned above, the desktop models are working much faster and accelerate your workflows, so you can devote time to other important tasks. In case you need to scan a large amount of documents—desktop scanners will be a best solution for you.
If you are a pro photographer or designer, or you just want to get the best quality when scanning photos and prints—it’s better to purchase a flatbed scanner (such models usually not showing a great speed, but giving a great and accurate images as a result).
Powering Through USB
Some of the scanners allows powering through USB. Most often USB powering option is presented in much cheaper and more simple devices, but that could be an extremely important option if you are often on the road—you can also easily connect such model with your laptop
Connectivity Technology and Interfaces
Nowadays most of the scanners are being connected to PC through the USB port. But you can also face with devices that are using FireWire (IEEE 1394) connection or connecting through local network like Ethernet or Wi-Fi. Most likely, these are the best option for offices with a lot of client computers). You need to take that into account and choose what option is best for you!
Automatic document feeder (ADF)
When your scanner has an automatic document feeder (ADF), you can scan an entire stack of pages unattended. That allows you to work with a large amount of documents (it depends on the ADF capacity—usually it’s up to 60 pages or higher). Devices with larger ADF are usually used in bigger companies and can cope with a mixed variety of single- or double-sided documents ranging in different sizes and thickness.
Tips When Choosing the Scanner
Below you will find some important tips when choosing the scanner for your office or home:
- The important thing is to check if the scanner is compatible with most common OSs (in case you are using MacOS X or Linux, you will need drivers in order to use it. But if the device is not compatible with those OSs—it won’t work at all or you can face different issues;
- Don’t forget to check if you have enough free space to fit the scanner on the desk or elsewhere (check all the dimensions of the place where you are going to put scanner, check if its weight is OK and fits the prepared place);
- Even if you are going to use scanner in office, that doesn’t mean that you’ll need a desktop device with the highest speed. You need to understand the amount of the documents that is being scanned on daily basis and make a decision, sometimes it is cheaper to scan documents somewhere else. You can find a great way to save your money here;
- Scanner together with printer can be transformed into a great copier and that can also allow you to save money when purchasing peripheral