In addition to the individual scanner reviews on this site, I have created a list of the best scanners for each category. If you are considering buying a scanner then a good place to start your research (in my opinion) is by checking out some of the bestsellers. The internal reviews as well as some external customer reviews are linked to for each of the scanners listed below for further details. I have also provided some general information on this particular category at the bottom of the page.
Here are the best document scanners for 2018:
1. Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500
Read our Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500 Review
2. Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M
Read our Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500M Review
3. Epson Workforce Pro GT-S50
Read our Epson Workforce GT-S50 Review
Scanners come in a few different formats from flatbed to portable to sheetfed. For people who will be primarily scanning paper documents in bulk, buying a document scanner is a wise choice.
Document scanners are designed for high speed scanning. They are sometimes referred to as sheetfed scanners or ADF (automatic document feeder) scanners because they will pull one document at a time from the feeder. This allows the user to place multiple documents into the feeder and walk away while the scanner does its work, just like a copier.
Why a Document Scanner?
There are actually a few different type of scanners that can be purchased, each with it’s own perks. What you need will depend on what you primarily need to scan.
For example, I actually own a multipurpose scanner which can scan, copy, print and fax. I also own a photo scanner although I have had to move it to the closet to make room for the multi-functional printer (scanner). Because of limited desk space I needed to find a unit that could do all the things I needed to do.
A document scanner would be a good fit for someone who does large volume scanning of documents. In those cases you need a scanner equipped with a feeder tray that can scan many pages per minute. People who run a small business or process a lot of paper electronically would find this type of scanner to be best.
Fujitsu has really captured the market share in home document scanners, both standard size and portable. Their scanners are very well rated and seem to have a dedicated following so you probably can’t go wrong with a Fujitsu.
Of course, top quality usually comes at a price and some people will have to opt for a lower-priced option. In that case you may have to consider Epson over Fujitsu. That said, Epson is no slouch when it comes to scanners and has some of its own advantages which are highlighted later on.
When shopping for a document scanner there are a few key features to compare across models.
1. ADF Size – this tells you how many pages of paper can be placed into the automatic feeder. If you need to scan large stacks at a time, this value will be important.
2. PPM Speed – tells you how many pages per minute (ppm) can be scanned. If you plan to just load the feeder and walk away you may not worry about the speed as much. A small business would probably prefer speed, though.
3. Duplex or Single Side – a duplex scanner can scan both sides of a two-sided document automatically. A single side scanner would require you to do this manually.
4. Software Compatibility – PC, Mac, or Dual compatibility. Some households have more that one operating system. Make sure everyone in your home and office is compatible with whatever scanner you choose.
5. Optical Resolution – given in dpi (dots per inch), tells you the quality of the image scan. This value is usually more important when you are scanning photos than documents. Most doc scanners will have more than enough resolution.
6. Footprint – check the dimensions, especially of you are limited on space. These scanners can be larger than you might expect so make sure you take some measurements prior to purchase.
In general the most important feature to evaluate is usually speed. Sheetfed scanners are the best for the bulk scanning of documents – you load up the feed tray with a bunch of papers and walk away. When comparing these types of scanners you will be looking for the PPM measure which is “pages per minute” that can be scanned. You also will want a scanner that can perform duplex scanning which is simply scanning double-sided documents (which all the scanners above can do).
Other features to compare in this category would be the capacity of the automatic document feeding (ADF) tray as well as the size of the tray. The capacity of the ADF tray tells you the maximum amount of pages you can load into the tray for a single scan run. The size of the tray will tell you the maximum document size that can be scanned. These parameters may be more or less important depending on the volume of scanning you plan to do.
All of that considered, if you are comparing the Fujitsu S1500 vs the Epson Workforce Pro GT-S50 here are some of the main differences between these two scanners:
1. The Epson has a 75 page ADF tray while the Fujitsu has a 50 page ADF.
2. The Epson can scan docs up to 8.5″x36″ while the Fujitsu only scans up to legal size (8.5″x14″).
3. The Fujitsu is more compact with a smaller footprint.
4. The Fujitsu comes with Adobe Acrobat Standard software for PDF creation ($200+ value).
5. The Workforce is compatible with both Windows and Mac while the S1500 has two separate models for the two operating systems.
There are also all-in-one printers that have ADF trays for bulk scanning of documents. You will gain the extra functionality of printing and copying but you will also gain a larger footprint. All-in-ones are also not likely to have the same speed or duplexing capabilities of a dedicated scanner and generally have smaller sized ADF trays. You can learn more about the pros and cons of a multifunctional printer for scanning by reading my Scanner vs Printer article if this is an option you are considering.
If you need assistance with some of the scanner terminology used here or on the product pages linked to above, be sure to check out our buying guides listed in the sidebar.