Despite the fact that scanners are very familiar to us, we might not know what they are all capable of. All too often, we just assume that these things work and use them whenever we want, but you want to know exactly what goes into a scanner in order to find the best scanner for your needs.
Here are some of the key features of a scanner to consider before you buy.
The Feeder Type
To begin with, you want to find out what kind of scanner you want which breaks down to two main categories: flatbed and sheetfed. A flatbed scanner will just offer a flat surface upon which you place the document for scanning, close the lid, and hit the scan functions. A sheetfed scanner utilizes a feeder port will bring documents into the scanner in order to be scanned.
The best scanners as far as resolution are usually flatbed scanners. Photo scanners are usually flatbed for optimum image resolution. However, for those of you just scanning documents, sheetfed scanners can often work more quickly making them the better choice for bulk document scanning.
Compatibility of the Software
You also have to consider the software that you need in order to run the scanner, and if you can get it to work with the kind of computer you have. Make sure you look at the drivers that device needs specifically to work; they can often come with the scanner, but you might have to update them from time to time in order to get them to work. And always make sure a scanner with work with your operating system, be it a PC or a Mac.
Color Depth and Resolution
In the event you are concerned about how good the image looks in the scanner, take a look at the resolution and color depth that is offered with that scanner. The DPI, or dots per inch, is what determines the resolution; the higher the DPI, the better the image will turn out all things being equal. When looking at color depth, you are finding out the amount of color that every pixel can receive; the higher the depth, the better the quality of the image. These criteria are especially important when comparing the photo scanners where the image quality is critical.
Scanning Bed Size
You will find many flatbed scanners to hold anything of legal paper or smaller size (8.5″ x 14″). For those people who want to scan bigger images than that, you will either need a large flatbed scanner or utilize a software stitching program for piecing together multiple small scans of a large item. There are actually large format scanners that will scan up to an 11×17″ size.
A lot of scanners are an all-in-one package, usually referred to as all-in-one printers. An all-in-one printers will scan, print, and even fax a document while maintaining the size of a standard printer. Those who have home offices in which scanning is just one need will be well served by a multifunctional device. You can cut down on costs by only purchasing one machine that does all of that, plus save space in your office. On the flip side though, you will likely lose a bit in image quality.
Warranty and Service
You can often run into issues when running technical equipment such as this. Therefore, you really want to take a look at the service plan and warranty that you have with it. Verify that you do not have to pay anything to send it in for repairs in the event that something goes wrong with it, especially within the warranty period. Also check for a dedicated customer service line should you need help with troubleshooting.
Even though you might not realize it, it is important to recognize the price of your scanner before you buy it. If all of the scanners you are looking at have the same features and are interchangeable to you, use the lowest price to decide. If your scanning will only be done occasionally then you may be able to get away with buying a cheap scanner.
While this isn’t a comprehensive list of all of the key features of a scanner the list here contains some of the more important elements. When trying to determine the best scanner for your situation it is important to understand that no scanner is perfect. Weigh your needs against the available features of a given scanner and let the best scanner win.