Few people like their work desks to be covered in messy piles of paper. We doubt that even disorganized folk appreciate the tower of papers that sits neatly in its designated corner on our office desks or in a cabinet, gathering dust, increasing the number of surfaces to be dusted and cleaned. If only there was a way to make the paper go away! Fortunately, there is, and it’s a nifty device called a desktop document scanner.
The document scanner is an electronic device that collects data from paper and converts it to digital form. The scanner embodies everything we love about technology: it saves time and energy (both human and electrical), produces a cleaner and more efficient result, and somehow makes a mundane task more interesting.
There are two types of document scanners: portable document scanners and desktop document scanners. Our focus for this review is on desktop document scanners. They come in two types as well: flatbed scanners and sheet-fed scanners. These devices can be used to convert all kinds of paper data to digital documents. After that has been done, the scanner sends them to your computer via USB or wireless interfaces, where you can proceed to edit the documents, store them, or send them to your family or work colleagues. These documents can be saved or stored in storage devices such as flash drives or USB drives. Desktop scanners are indeed helpful devices and depending on what you intend to use them for (and your budget, of course) you should be able to find one that’s best suited to your needs.
We’ve featured five awesome brands in our review, however there’s still more out there that we want to tell you about. Of course, no review for any office equipment would be complete without mentioning Canon and they’ve got some pretty sweet document scanners too. Their imageFormula DR-C225 Document Scanner
is functional as a document and photo scanner but it’s also very energy efficient, which sets it apart from other options. Some scanners will scan in both black & white and color, whereas others, like the HP ScanJet Pro 3000
will just scan in black & white. That’s not to say it’s not a good choice though. Sometimes that’s all you need and it’ll scan documents up to 35ppm and images up to 70ipm! Finally, some scanners are more portable and can be used on a desktop or to carry around with you. The Vupoint Magic Wand Portable Scanner
is one of these. Even though it’s small in size, it can still scan documents up to 8.5-inches wide and 125-inches long!
Okay, now you’ve seen some of the varied options out there it’s time to look at some more consideration factors.
Desktop document scanners are available at prices as low as $80, to as high as $1,900 and even more. The reason for price difference lies mostly in the type of features a desktop scanner has. A desktop scanner with a sheet-feeding capacity of up to 100 sheets, USB 3.0 and wireless connectivity, and a 60ppm speed rate will cost more than one with a 20-sheet feeding capacity, USB 2.0 and wireless connectivity, and a 16ppm speed rate. Other factors such as quality of materials and construction also play a role in the price determination. We did find cheap desktop document scanners, but we doubt they’ll produce great or even accurate results.
How does one tell the difference between a fair desktop document scanner and a great one? Knowing the features to look for is great place to start, and we’ve listed the important ones here:
- Scan speed
- Double or single-sided scanning
- Sheet-feeding capacity
Construction and Design
The two types of desktop document scanners are flatbed scanners (simply called flatbeds) and sheet-fed scanners. The flatbeds have a fixed, flat glass surface beneath their lids; it’s on this bed that you’ll place your document. The scan head then moves beneath the glass, up and down the document, taking detailed pictures. If you intend to scan different types of paper, including photos, books, and magazines, a flatbed is best. It’s large enough to scan open books, and it doesn’t move the paper while it’s scanning them.
Sheet-fed scanners are a better option if you’re scanning mostly paper documents. They are designed with a paper feeding mechanism that allows you to load them with the suggested number of sheets, instead of scanning them one after another. To transform piles of records into a digital format, they’re your best bet. The limit to the number of sheets a scanner can be load with differs with each model. The higher the sheet-feeding capacity, the more the scanner will cost.
Most document scanners are designed to perform double-sided scanning on documents. This is a time-saving feature, as you won’t have to turn the pages manually, and offices or businesses with high paper traffic will sure appreciate it. However, if your scanning needs aren’t large and you don’t do it often, a one-sided document scanner is a good buy, especially since it doesn’t cost as much as its double-sided scanning counterparts.
Performance and Ease of Use
The resolution of a scanner is a big deal if you’re going to be scanning pictures or documents with plenty of graphics. This is because scanners with a high resolution (expressed in Dots per Inch, or DPI) will produce digital copies with more accurate colors than those with lower resolutions. Scanners with 600 DPI and above will do just fine for text, graphics and photos. If you're scanning artwork or enlarging photos, you’re going to need a scanner with resolution that’s over 1000 DPI.
The scan speed is also important – after all, document scanners are supposed to save time. However, before you begin eyeing those high-speed scanners, ask yourself if speed is really of the essence for your scanning purpose. If you’re getting one of these for business, then by all get the fastest one your budget can accommodate, because that’s a major deciding factor. Document scanning speed is measured in ppm (pages per minute), and it can get as low as 16ppm and as high as 90ppm.
Desktop document scanners come with a USB interface, and many also include Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity. The scanner’s connectivity affects how convenient it is to share scanned documents with your computers and other devices. Some of them even come with software that allows you to send scanned documents directly to cloud storage (Google Drive, Dropbox, Evernote, etc). Be sure that the scanner has optical character recognition (OCR) software that’ll help you convert the scanned image to editable text.
Of equal importance is the dimension or size of the scanner. Check that it’s going to fit the space that you’ll be placing it in. Flatbeds are bulkier than their sheet-fed cousins. Also ensure that the warranty is to your taste, as it wouldn’t do to be stuck with a scanner that you cannot use or return.
First things first: what size of documents do you want to scan? Do you want a scanner with an automatic feeder that lets you load your papers, hit scan, and walk away? How about a scanner that can handle two sides of a page simultaneously? These are some of the questions you should ask yourself when buying a desktop document scanner. Fortunately, we have considered all these factors, including scanner resolution, connectivity, portability, scan speed, and, of course, the budget to ensure that everyone gets what they want.
It’s the end of this review. Now you can use this information to find the right desktop document scanner for you or for your workplace.