Using Scanners for Photos and Documents
Although it’s probably a mundane part of office use around the world, a desktop scanner is still an important piece of equipment. Without it, you wouldn’t be able to make digital copies of regular paper documents lying all around the office. Even a small business probably scans at least a page a day, whether it’s to keep track of receipts or get a copy of employee records on your computer. But, depending on the type of scanner model you have, the process can be a breeze or a total chore. Newer scanners have fancy features like automatic document feed (or ADF for short), wireless connection to computer and laptop devices so you can receive copies via WiFi, and image touch up software so that your documents will end up in high quality with no smudges or blurring. So even if you already have a scanner for home use or basic tasks for your business, consider reading on to see if you can upgrade to a better one with little added cost. Keeping your technology modernized is vital to running a successful company after all.
Here’s What Matters in Scanners
You might think scanners don’t differ that much since all they do is make a digital copy of a paper page. However, just like most other technological appliances, they do have quite a few features that stand each model apart from the others. Let’s look into the ones that matter most and the points that you should be looking for in the scanner of your choice. And remember that a lot of the models on the market are by and large printer/scanner combos so don’t be surprised to see a lot of talk about print quality here.
Starting off with the basics, when you look at a document scanner, check if it’s laser or inkjet. Here’s what you need to know to make a pick between the two. The inkjet models will provide high resolution quality to any image or document you print so that it looks as good as a digital file on a huge screen with beautiful color saturation. However, the actual inkjet ink costs a fortune (well, not literally, but it’s still way too expensive) and the device itself will have to be cleaned quite often. On the other hand, inkjet technology is pretty compact so your scanner will be more portable and easier to find a place for. Moreover, this type of device works with any paper type.
What does a laser model have going for it? Well, it does multi-page printing faster than most inkjet devices and overall prints pretty quickly. However, there’s a bit of a warmup involved so these aren’t as practical for single pass printing. So if fast operation is a priority, you might want to look at your document loads and, if you handle a lot of pages per day, go for the laser models. Especially if you don’t deal with photos or images as the laser models are typically not a good fit as a photo scanner. They do, however, print text really sharply so words don’t smush together and you can make out the details in any font size. Other than that, you should be aware that laser models are usually larger than inkjet ones and a bit more expensive initially, though you will save plenty of money in the long run as you won’t have to buy new ink cartridges.
Okay, whew, with that out of the way, look at the connectivity options. If you’re looking for a scanner for a professional environment, you’ll likely need it to stay linked to a whole bunch of computers or laptops. So, if possible, find a model with WiFi enabled as USB is more practical for home use when your network is limited to one computer.
Resolution also matters a lot if you’re working with images, photos in particular. A low-res scanner will just be a money sink that doesn’t do anything for you since quality dips on those are highly visible and you’ll just end up wasting time.
Also, check if the model you like is a duplex scanner as this type of device does double sided scanning simultaneously, saving time without any quality loss. This is particularly handy if you’ve got a lot to go through (scanning books, whole company records, financial reports).
Of course, it also wouldn’t hurt to see if the model you’ve picked is, indeed, a printer combo and whether it can fax documents as well. The latter is not as vital but still, it’s a cost-saver and can come in handy both at home and at work.
We’d also advise checking to see if the device comes with any sort of editing software, which is particularly important for photo scanning. It’s not exactly a must but having it available is a nice bonus.
There’s also stuff like “output power” and such but these characteristics are pretty vague and it’s tough to correlate them with your own printing and scanning needs. So focus on the ones we’ve mentioned instead. Last but not least, check the size if storage space is a factor for you.
So, the 9 best scanners are
Epson Perfection V800
- Great resolution of 6400dpi.
- Compatible with both Windows and Mac, perfect for office environments with different system types.
- Includes image editing software and film holders so you can scan from pretty much any source available.
- Quite expensive, especially if you’re just looking for a model for home use.
- Doesn’t have any print or fax functions, a bit puzzling, especially considering the cost.
We always try to find technology that combines several devices, thus making for a more budget-friendly and efficient appliance. However, in some cases, such as here, the device is focused on one task so precisely that it becomes the indisputable leader in it, even if its uses are limited. So yes, we admit, the Epson Perfection V800 laser scanner is expensive and doesn’t boast the multifunctionality of printer/scanner combos but it’s undoubtedly the best scanner for photographers and others working with high quality images. This model boasts amazing 6400dpi resolution, comes with professional editing software, and the kit even includes film holders so you can copy prints directly from the source. Still, we do have to stress that this is clearly not your average scanner and it’s not the best choice for home use or regular offices that usually only scan documents. But if image quality is of utmost importance, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better option. For one, you can set the scan mode to fully manual so you’d be in full control, adjusting the lens, lowering speed or raising it, and overall choose color, saturation, and more. The scan quality will be rather amazing either way, even if you don’t use the max dpi settings, going for the lowest 2400 option. Your photos will look as good as in glossy magazines anyway.
Though it may seem less important than the other specs, we do want to praise the system compatibility of the Epson Perfection V800 as it works equally well with Windows 10 and the latest Mac OS as well as older variations. Setup is fast and doesn’t take much technical know-how. The one sour impression was left by the lack of Wi-Fi connectivity, which is pretty useful and is getting to the point of standard fare these days.
All things considered, we’d definitelly call this model the best scanner for photographers but an unlikely choice for personal home use. It works great on any PC or Mac, provides unrivaled quality, and we just wish it was a tad more affordable.
Canon CanoScan LiDE220
- Pretty budget-friendly and thus viable for personal use.
- Uses special software to keep any documents you scan backed up on a cloud service.
- Great compatibility with all operating systems and automatic scan correction.
- The resolution isn’t the highest though still pretty solid.
- The software that comes with the product isn’t that effective as it even has no photo editor.
- Even the controls are a bit overly complicated even though the process is simple enough.
If you’re a photographer or simply deal with images and photos on a day-to-day basis, you want a scanner that has good resolution. But, if you’re also a thrifty shopper, you wouldn’t want to empty your wallet just to get this one device. That’s why we feel that the Canon CanoScan LiDE220 laser model is a solid pick, even if it’s not the most impressive in terms of technical specs.
Though this flatbed scanner can’t work with film and falls behind the high-end models in terms of DPI resolution, it’s still above the traditional printer/scanner office combos and it’s far more affordable than the top of the line options. It’s the kind of device you could reasonably purchase for your home without having to stretch the budget. Plus, it works with any computer as the operating systems compatibility is unrestricted.
One thing that makes the Canon CanoScan LiDE220 stand out is the cloud service software that comes with it. It automatically backs up the files you scan so nothing is lost in case of a computer crash or PC change. Particularly important for big firms where many users might be using the scanner simultaneously. Though that won’t be as easy for sure as the device doesn’t have Wi-Fi connectivity.
We have to admit that the controls on this model are a bit too cumbersome as the software that comes with it prompts you to do scanning setup via the PC while you can actually adjust the settings by simply pressing the buttons on the scanner itself. That’s just poor design and the same can be said for the lack of a photo editor on this one, which is a bit puzzling as it’s definitely aimed at photography scans.
All in all, we can definitely see the shortcomings in the Canon CanoScan LiDE220 but its potential is just as prominent. It’s an affordable, effective, and pretty high-quality scanner for photographers both professional and amateur.
Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500
- Uses Wi-Fi connectivity to eliminate the need for wires.
- Has duplex technology for double sided scanning, perfect for high performance tasks.
- The OCR software is pretty advanced, so document scans won’t have any typos.
- This model only works with one PC at a time so your connectivity is still limited.
- Though this is a sheetfed scanner, the paper does get stuck sometimes, bringing the process to a halt.
- You can send the scans to myriad programs but it always requires cumbersome extra steps.
When you work in a hectic office environment, documents tend to get lost in the endless piles of paper. That’s precisely why it’s important to make digital copies and store them in an orderly fashion. Using the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 will surely solve the documentation issues. This scanner works fast, both thanks to naturally high speed and the built-in duplex scanning, which makes a copy of both sides of the document in one go. We do have to point out that this model works best specifically for pages with written text and not images as the DPI isn’t all that high. The text scans, however, will be as good as they get thanks to cutting edge OCR software. And they do go pretty fast as long as the sheet feed system doesn’t lag and the paper doesn’t get stuck, which happens from time to time.
Other than that, there’s very little to complain about in the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 laser scanner. Though we were a bit puzzled by the fact that this model has Wi-Fi connectivity (a big plus!) and yet can only be connected to one computer at a time. That’s still pretty good for a large office but a firmware update that lifts the restriction wouldn’t hurt. If you do prefer a wired connection, the device supports the new USB 3.0 standard, so hooking up to your PC or Mac won’t be an issue.
With all that said, we’d definitely call the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 a great pick for scanning official documentation and cases where the absence of typos is key. It’s reasonably priced, effective, and high-tech, a great choice for an office appliance.
Epson Workforce ES-400
- Does double-sided duplex scans and does them fast.
- An automated document feeder that works with up to 50 pages.
- Syncs with all sorts of services and programs including cloud storage and PDF readers (creates files automatically).
- The model with Wi-Fi support costs extra.
- This scanner’s OCR system is pretty weak and lets a lot of mistakes pass by unnoticed.
- The feeder does go haywire sometimes and requires paper readjustment.
A small business probably doesn’t have much money to spend on office equipment and neither does your average consumer but we believe in getting the most out of your resources. And that’s exactly how the Epson Workforce ES-400 landed on our list. Despite costing relatively little, this is definitely a high-end option that’s sure to keep up even when you need high performance.
For one, the Epson Workforce ES-400 boasts the trendy and useful duplex technology so you scan both the front and back of documents at once, saving precious time. Once the page is scanned, it can be converted to a PDF or Word/Excel document or even automatically uploaded to cloud storage, all thanks to the software that comes with the device. However, it’s not all perfect as the OCR here is just outright poor, missing obvious mistakes and typos. If you’re scanning a particularly important contract, make sure to check it manually afterwards.
If you often find yourself having to scan many pages at once, you’ll likely appreciate the automatic feeder on this model. It can line up 50 pages at a time, though you should probably still keep an eye on the process as some hitches do happen and the paper might get stuck.
We also were about to praise the Wi-Fi connectivity on this scanner but then noticed that it’s actually only available in a particular variation of this model that costs a bit more. It’s not that big of a fee but it would have been nice to have it for free.
Still, the flaws here aren’t that consequential, especially considering that you’re virtually getting a top of the line laser scanner at the price of a completely average model. A true bargain, especially considering all the handy features that make high-quantity scans much less of a chore.
- Pretty affordable, a solid budget-friendly choice.
- This model is very compact and will fit easily on your desktop.
- Great scanning speed, up to 34 pages per minute.
- Not fit for image scanning due to the low 600 dpi resolution.
- Pretty sparse software pack, you’ll likely have to look some OCR program up yourself.
- The drivers are outdated so you’ll have to download new ones once you set up the device.
Though we always recommend looking for the best and most powerful option, especially when it comes to technology, you don’t always have to find heavy duty equipment. This, of course, applies to scanners as well. At its core, this appliance should simply help you make copies and everything else is just an added bonus. If simplicity is what you’re looking for, the Avision AW210 is a good and affordable option.
The controls here are quite basic with most of the process automated as the scanner is aimed specifically at working with text documents. It can be used to scan images, sure, but the 600 dpi makes it clear that’s not the best idea. Whatever you decide to scan, though, it’s going to be quite fast as this model supports up to 34 pages per minute. We do recommend double checking the results as the Avision AW210 doesn’t have any good dedicated OCR software. For that matter, its program kit is a bit small though everything works smoothly.
We also want to praise the size of the Avision AW210 as it’s pretty compact for a high-power model. You’ll easily find a spot for it on your worktable.
With all said and done, we can definitely see a few flaws in the Avision AW210 and recognize that it stands out as one of the more basic scanner models. But it’s efficient, affordable, and doesn’t have any dealbreaker problems. So if you’re looking for a simple scanner, we see no reason not to choose it.
- This model has Wi-Fi connectivity that’s perfect for local office networks.
- Equipped with duplex technology, you can scan documents on both sides at once.
- You can scan directly to a PDF format with automatic OCR checks. Other formats are available as well.
- The 16 page per minute speed is relatively low.
- The install takes a while and seems to miss some of the software so you have to set it up manually.
- The USB port is a bit inconveniently placed.
Sometimes, just once in a while, you spot a product that’s too good to be true. It’s the perfect package of reasonable price and great functionality and it seems like a dream. But these do exist and the Brother ADS1000W is proof of that. Sure, it’s not literally perfect but it’s a rare find that has a few tricks up its sleeves.
We hope you forgive us but we just have to praise its price right away. Despite costing about as much as a basic office model, the Brother ADS1000W manages to offer much more than that. For one, it has duplex scanning so every double-sided document will be done twice as fast. Admittedly, the actual scan speed isn’t that high at just 16 pages per minute. It’s pretty middle-of-the-pack but we expected more based on all the other features.
Speaking of the slow, the installation does take a while as it seems to be a victim of faulty programming. Some of the software that comes with the scanner has to be set up manually instead of being readied automatically. Thankfully, the software is worth it as the OCR here is quite good. Besides, you can scan the documents at hand directly to a PDF format or a variety of other, less popular options.
Last but not least we have to point out that the Brother ADS1000W is perfect for large offices thanks to built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s capable of instantly linking to any PC in the local network, which many other high-end models fail at miserably.
With all of these advantages, you probably already see why we’re so enamored with the Brother ADS1000W. Yes, it’s not without its faults but the pros here outweigh the cons by far. So go on and jump on this bargain while you have a chance.
Canon Compact TS6020
- Relatively low price for a brand-name model, especially since it’s a printer/scanner combo.
- Outstanding printing quality with the ability to adjust photo sizes.
- The design is quite sleek and the scanner itself is relatively compact.
- Lacks an ADF so you have to set the pages up manually.
- This is an inkjet model so you’ll have to spend quite a bit on replacement cartridges.
- The printing speed is pretty low, even below the more basic and less expensive models.
Okay, so technology moves pretty fast and not every home or office has the space for a copier, a printer, and a scanner all together. Instead of having a whole corner piled with devices, why not save money and space and get the Canon Compact TS6020?
Even though this model hails from the respected Canon company, it’s surprisingly budget-friendly, perhaps because it’s a bit behind in terms of fancy features. For one, it doesn’t have an ADF, one of the simpler yet pleasant bonuses we look for in a scanner. It does, however, use Wi-Fi connectivity, one of the more important modern functions. With it, you can set up the device to work with all computers in the local network, perfect for offices. Plus, the quality is top-notch so you can scan and print images and photos nearly as good as a professional would. And all that is automatized, no need to manually adjust color and saturation options!
While we like the overall design of the Canon Compact TS6020, we have to admit that the choice go to inkjet might not be to everyone’s liking. The ink is quite expensive though some would certainly say that the quality is worth it. One thing, however, that’s an indisputable flaw is the low printing speed. If you usually print or scan in high quantities, prepare to wait a while.
But these cons, as you can see for yourself, aren’t too terrible. And the pros such as high-quality printing and 3-in-1 functionality are not exactly something you can get just anywhere, especially at this price.
Xerox DocuMate 3125
- The OCR software is quite precise, especially when working with basic texts.
- The page per minute level is reasonably high, especially at this quality.
- You can convert the file to a multitude of formats using the programs that come with the scanner itself.
- The price is pretty high.
- The conversion of the digital copy to PDF and similar formats takes way too long.
- No dedicated software for handling business cards.
It’s no secret that Xerox was once the leader of the copier market but with the DocuMate 3125, the company sets out to prove that it can still keep up in the big league. For example, this model’s scanning speed is pretty similar to that of competitors except it’s applicable not just to your basic documents. The DocuMate 3125 scans images just as well though it’s obviously not as high-res as some of the scanners used by professional photographers and designers. Even so, the quality is there and so are the high speed scans. Plus, the OCR software here is very good so you’ll never spot any unfortunate typos in your digital copies. Though the actual conversion to PDF does take a while, we felt that it was mitigated by that excellent mistake checker.
While the price tag on this model did sour the impression a bit, we felt like the product was worth it. It’s fully kitted with useful software (except for something to handle business cards) and the ADF here is excellent. The feed is capable of handling documents as small as 2 by 2 inches and that means you can make a copy of pretty much any paper on your desk.
Despite a few gripes, we still feel like Xerox has knocked it out of the park with the DocuMate 3125 and made a good scanner viable both for office and home use.
Xerox DocuMate 152i
- Quite small and lightweight and thus easily portable.
- The page per minute rate of 25 is rather good and the OCR is still respectable even at that level.
- Even has duplex scanning for even faster processing.
- Just a bit overpriced compared to some of the competitors.
- No special program for scanning business cards and other non-standard papers.
- Very basic connectivity options and protocols.
If you’re looking for a scanner that you can easily move, whether it’s into storage or just to a different spot, you need a portable model. Something like the Xerox DocuMate 152i, which is lightweight, compact, and still works just as efficiently as a larger model.
Don’t let the modest size fool you, the Xerox DocuMate 152i scans up to 25 pages per minute on basic settings and, considering that this is a duplex model, you can freely double that to an even 50. Although scanning to a searchable PDF takes a bit longer, the OCR here is quite good and we’d say the wait is worth it. That way you won’t have to double-check the results and that’s a bonus in and of itself.
Now, admittedly, we did feel like this model’s price tag was a bit too high, considering the lack of useful software or high-tech features such as Wi-Fi connectivity. Still, these aren’t the end all be all, especially since the scan quality is about as good as what you get on newer models. And if you’re just in the market for a portable model that scans reasonably well, there’s very little to dislike about the Xerox DocuMate 152i. If the cons we’ve listed aren’t dealbreaking to you then this is a very fine choice.
Hopefully our line-up was helpful and you’ll be able to find a portable scanner or an office one, one designed for documentation or photos. Make sure to study the specs carefully and make an informed choice based on the pros and cons we’ve presented.