If you’re on the hunt for a dedicated scanner you may have been surprised by the wide choice available. With a range of scanner types to choose from plus a whole selection of additional features, it can be a struggle to know what the best scanner for you is. Whether you’re looking for affordable scanning at home or need something that can take on your office archiving, here’s what you need to know when looking for the perfect scanner.
Why buy a scanner
Scanners can be great additions to both home and office spaces. They are ideal archivers and can digitise all your records from finances to important personal items. While an all in one printer may offer some basic scanning needs, for any type of archiving or photography requirements we always recommend a dedicated scanner. They offer a much better quality and a wider range of scanning features that you can depend on time after time.
If you’re looking to archive family photos or want to get more organised, a dedicated scanner could be the right choice for you. They offer higher scan resolutions than your standard multifunction printer, perfect for photography hobbyists and keeping those old family photos safe. They’re also great for scanning any tax or financial documents like receipts, turning haphazard paper filing systems into an organised digital system.
Every office can benefit from a dedicated scanner. From accounts and finance to medical and legal industries, many businesses end up with big and complex filing systems. Boxes of paper documents from years and even decades previous can one day come to haunt you when it comes to finding something specific. A dedicated scanner can bulk archive files and business documents, digitising important records for better organisation. This is perfect for finding past documents, sharing files with workgroups or the whole business and can even help your office go completely paperless.
What to consider when buying a scanner
Scanners can help achieve a range of archiving needs, but they also come in a variety of types and sizes as well as a whole selection of additional features. While choosing the best scanner might seem complicated at first, the right fit for you is easy to find when you know what to look out for.
Type of scanner
The first and most important thing to figure out is the type of scanner you need. This will significantly refine the list of possibilities and make the search much easier. There are three main types of scanner to choose from; flatbed, sheet-fed and portable.
Perfect for: home scanning, scanning for photographers
This is the most ‘common’ type of scanner and is what most people imagine when they think of a scanner. A flatbed scanner gets its name from the glass flatbed that you put documents on to scan. They can usually scan photographs just as well as documents, making them the best value for complete versatility. Because they are a fixed flatbed they usually have the largest footprints, but subsequently include the most all-round features and typically have the higher resolutions. Because documents need to be inserted onto the flatbed you can only scan one page at a time, making these scanners most suited to low volume scanning.
Perfect for: office scanning, bulk archiving
Sheet-fed scanners are really the only option for offices or anyone else who is looking at more bulk scanning needs. As their name suggests they work by feeding sheets into the scanner, similar to a printer or copier sheet feeder. Because of this they can scan pages continuously as opposed to the one-at-a-time functionality of a flatbed, and are therefore perfect for more bulk archiving needs typically experienced in offices. The features offered tend to suit office requirements, such as higher scan speeds and duplex scanning. You can choose from a range of desktop and professional scanners to suit the volume and type of scanning you need to achieve.
Perfect for: sporadic scanning, scanning on the go
Portable scanners do exactly what they say on the tin and are suitable for job roles that could benefit from mobile scanning. Because of their size, they offer significantly less resolutions and speeds than their flatbed and sheet-fed companions, but they make up for this in sheer convenience. The most recent portable scanners come both USB and battery powered with a range of connectivity options available. They are ideal for basic scanning needs away from the home or the office.
Once you’ve decided on the type of scanner for you it’s time to look at the additional features. With a dedicated scanner, you can go as basic or as complex as you want depending on your needs. Heavy duty professional scanners feature some of the most advanced capabilities from high print speeds to flexible connectivity.
This is shown in pages per minute just like printers and will be important to anyone with high volume scanning needs. The higher the number, the faster it scans.
These are scanners that can handle double-sided documents. Again, this feature is most relevant to high volume or regular scanning when fast archiving is essential.
Paper size and handling
Scanners can print up to A3 and can handle a range of media types including ID badges and cards. These features are dependent on your needs, with A3 scanners most suited to photographers, art or design scanning while many industries may find use for more versatile media handling.
Anyone looking to scan artwork or photographs, or with more versatile home needs, will probably want to invest in a higher resolution. While bulk archiving needs will need a decent quality to scan older and potentially damaged records, generally speed will take priority over resolution.
Modern scanners offer a wide range of new connectivity options, from wireless to mobile scanning as well as scanners designed to fit easily into an existing network. Portable scanning needs in particular will benefit from these options.
Our best scanners
We’ve selected some of the best scanners from each of the three main scanning categories so no matter what your needs are, the perfect scanner is just a click away. All the scanners below are also some of our most affordable, but you can view the rest of scanner range for even more advanced or budget options.
Best photo scanner – Flatbed
- One of the best photo scanners for 2017.
- Optical lens resolution of 6,400dpi ensures the highest quality scan for photos and film.
- Digital ICE technologies automatically remove imperfections like dust, hair, scratches and fingerprints from film and photos.
- Built-in transparency unit to scan filmstrips and slides plus supports medium format film.
- Scan to selected social media and photo sharing websites as well as other cloud storage services.
Best office scanner – Sheet-fed
- One of the best affordable document scanners for 2017.
- Easy to use, simply press scan and go. Plus, an entire range of automated settings designed to make every day scanning effortless.
- Simultaneously scan up to 50 two-sided pages at a speedy 25 pages per minute.
- Scan a range of documents from larger A3/B4 documents to newspaper and magazine clippings, photographs and business cards.
- Comes bundled with Adobe Acrobat Standard which enables users to edit generated PDF files. Password and digital ID attached PDF files to safeguard personal information.
Best portable scanner
- Built-in wireless connectivity perfect for scanning to a computer or mobile and a range of shared destinations such as a local file or image, a shared folder, email, FTP or printer.
- Comes with both USB and battery-powered options.
- Ideal for capturing two-sided documents including receipts, business cards, laminated ID cards and invoices.
- Lightweight and compact perfect for sliding into a briefcase or even for basic home office scanning needs.
- Impressive 1,200 x 1,200dpi resolution.