With a scanner, you are no longer dependent on a copy center. You can do various copy jobs at home. Similar to the printer, a scanner is now standard equipment in every modern office. The applications of a scanner are versatile. Depending on the model, you can not only scan documents but also images, entire books or graphics. After the scan process, you can process the files further.
There are many types of scanners, such as flatbed scanners, handheld scanners, and film scanners. The scanners usually require software to work. There are now scanners that work wirelessly with Bluetooth technology.
We’ll show you why a high-quality scanner is a good investment and what to look for when buying it. In the guide we have put together many helpful tips and also picked out the 10 best scanners for you.
Top 10 Scanners
What types of scanners are there?
There are different types of scanners in the trade, which differ depending on the application in the selection of functions and construction:
- Hand scanners. These were the first affordable devices for the home user. The scanner (held in a typical T-shape) was simply pulled over a template. The application was a bit complicated, one only had to pull the device over a template very slowly and at a constant speed and without lateral deviations in order to get satisfactory results. For photos such scanners were unsuitable, the A4 format you had to start due to the low scan width, the device several times. Thereafter, the scanned document was assembled in an image editing program. Hand-held scanners that are available today are battery or rechargeable, they can handle a DIN A4 page easily and also allow higher scanning movements. The resulting files can be stored on an SD or micro-SD card or sent directly via Bluetooth or WLAN to other devices. Hand scanners, also called mobile document scanners, are often used at conferences and trade fair events. One of the advantages of the hand-held scanner is the mobile application, some of which are available with text recognition and translation functions and are reasonably priced. In older models, the recognition accuracy is slightly worse and they provide cumbersome handling.
- Flatbed scanner. The best-known representative of the scanner family is the flatbed scanner. The operation of these devices is similar to that of a photocopier. Place a template on the glass of the scanner and fix it with a cover. Via a fluorescent lamp or LED sensors, the original is now scanned line by line and finally digitized. These devices are suitable for scanning photos, documents, and even books. With an upper transparency unit, you can even digitize negatives and slides on some models. Flatbed scanners are usually designed up to a size of DIN A4. High-quality flatbed scanners achieve a scan resolution of at least 4,800 dpi. These models are ideal for use in the home office or for commercial use. Lots Multifunction printers are equipped with a scan unit today. Benefits of the flatbed scanner: They offer a high scanning resolution, are ideal in the private and commercial sector, you can also digitize photo negatives and slides, and offer an attractive price-performance ratio. The disadvantage is the size – they take up a lot of desk space, also most models have no automatic document feeder.
- Photo and slide scanner. With the help of a photo and slide scanner, as the name implies, you can digitize paper photos, negative strips, and slides in high quality. Good models achieve a scanning resolution of 4,000 dpi and more. Photo scanners have an automatic feeder for paper photos up to about 10 x 15 cm. The pure slide scanners, on the other hand, have corresponding receiving devices for individual slides or entire film strips. Particularly high on the photo and slide scanners is the high resolution – they are also suitable for paper images and film strips and have a compact design. Most models of this kind are a bit expensive.
- Fed scanner. Structurally, a retractable scanner is constructed similarly to a fax machine. These scanners are designed for batch scanning of documents and documents. Despite a high scanning speed, you can not edit other templates, which limits the functionality a bit. Feeder scanners offer a high scan resolution and a good scan speed and have compact dimensions. The disadvantage, however, is the fact that they are only suitable for documents and you can scan any books or periodicals.
Which connection types are there?
Most scanner models have a classic USB port. Today, every computer or laptop is equipped with a USB port. To connect the scanner to the computer, all you need is a USB cable, which is usually enclosed with a scanner.
Some scanners connect to peripherals through an SCSI port, a small computer system interface. The latest scanner generation has WLAN and can, therefore, be connected wirelessly.
What should you watch out for when cleaning the scanner?
Scanners belong to the relatively low-maintenance devices. The mechanism is enclosed inside the housing, not freely accessible from the outside and intended for a long-term operation. After a few years of operation, only the quality of the exposure unit can be reduced.
The housing of a scanner is best cleaned with a dry cloth. At regular intervals, you should clear the document glass of dust and dirt, so that the scan results are still of good quality.
What to look for when buying a scanner?
Before you decide on a scanner, you should get acquainted with the most important purchasing features:
- Delivery. When buying a scanner, pay attention to the scope of delivery. In addition to the device and the power cord should also be a suitable USB connection cable, which is not always the case. Otherwise, you have to buy the cable separately. Furthermore, the delivery should include a driver CD and a scanning software. For flatbed scanners with a translucent attachment, appropriate holders for individual slides and negative strips should be included.
- The purpose. There are several types of scanners, so you should consider for now what you want to use the scanner in the future. If you just want to digitize paper photos, slides, and filmstrips for posterity, then a photo and slide scanner is the best choice. Above all, you scan documents and occasionally pictures, then you get along with the traditional flatbed scanner the best. On the other hand, a single-feed scanner will give you the best service if you repeatedly have to digitize a large number of documents in the same format. For people who want to scan documents and photos on the road for professional reasons, the modern hand scanner offers the best alternative.
- Connectivity. Today’s scanners can be connected to other devices via USB as well as via WLAN. Some devices can even be controlled from a smartphone. Modern scanners also have a so-called Scan-to-Cloud and Scan-to-PDF feature.
- Scan resolution. This indicates how well the scanned image looks in the end and depends on the so-called dpi number. Dpi stands for “dots per inch” and represents the scanning resolution. A typical scanning device with a dpi value of 4,800 dpi, for example, is thus able to display a maximum of 4,800 characters per inch. Keep in mind that the higher the maximum dpi value of a scanner, the better the quality of the digitized images.
- Color depth. If you need the scanner mainly for private applications, then a color depth of 24 bits is sufficient. For professional use, you prefer to get at least a scanner with a color depth of 96 bits.
- Light source. A scanner needs a light source for operation. These are either cold light or LEDs. More and more scanners are being equipped with the LEDs because they offer the advantage of using less power. LEDs also last longer than the cold light bulbs.
- Useful extras and additional functions. Some devices have various additional functions, such as the cleaning function. This is used in photos to produce outstanding image results. For cleaning, infrared units are processed, and some UV light is also used.
Which accessories can be useful for a scanner?
After purchasing a scanner, you can alternatively purchase some accessories :
- The USB cable. This is probably the most important accessory for a scanner. In many cases, the USB cable is not included and must be purchased separately. Without a USB cable, communication between the scanner and the computer is not possible.
- Storage bag (for mobile scanners). For a mobile scanner, you’ll definitely need a padded storage bag to keep your device safe. For such scanners, you will get different transport bags and rucksacks on the market, all of which offer sufficient protection against damage.
- Cleaning spray and compressed air. For the scanners, there are special cleaning agents, with which you can clean not only the housing but also the document glass. Such cleaning sprays contain no chemical additives and do not attack the sensitive components and the housing. A small can of compressed air can help you to clean the scanner. You can easily blow out the dust from the cracks of the scanner. Important: The dust can negatively affect a perfect scan result, so there should be no dirt and dust, especially on the glass surface.
Which alternatives to the scanner are there?
If you do not have a scanner at hand and still want to scan a document or image for fast, you can use the following alternatives:
- Digital camera. With a digital camera, you can also digitize documents or pictures. To do this you need to place the templates on a table and light well from both sides. The digital camera can also be aligned with a Reproständers so that you can photograph the template directly from above.
- A smartphone as a scanner alternative. Most modern smartphones have a relatively good digital camera. If you get a free app, such as Genius Scan or CamScanner, then you can get good quality scans. These apps work even in low light and they are relatively easy to use. In addition, they are equipped with various archive functions that allow you to export the scanned documents even to other devices.