When scanning large volumes of documents, a conventional scanner is far too slow . Here comes the hour of the document scanner , which thanks to its automatic paper feeder easily handles thick file stacks. However, there are the devices in all price categories. Before buying, estimate how many pages you’ll scan each day , and compare that to the numbers in our spreadsheet. If ten pages per minute are enough for you, then you can make a real bargain.
Purchase advice: How to find the right document scanner in 2019
- A document scanner is the right tool to digitize large volumes of documents in a short time.
- Document scanners are available as stand devices and for mobile use.
- Modern document scanners can be integrated into a network and used from multiple devices
Information technology is moving forward, making work easier and more streamlined in many areas. That applies not least to office work. The paperless office is not just since yesterday on everyone’s lips and in many sectors already a reality. But even if internally all operational processes can be handled digitally, there is always an interface to the real world, in which still heaps of paper mountains pile up.
So that these data are also available in electronic form, they must first be transferred from the paper form into a suitable file format and archived on a storage medium. Wherever a large number of documents need to be digitized, the document scanner comes into play.
It is specially designed to make large quantities of paper available electronically in a short time. Brother, Canon and Fujitsu are as active in this market as Epson, Kodak and many other manufacturers.
In our 2018 document scanner comparison, we’ll tell you what the nimble helpers are about, what technical details are important and what you should consider when buying them. Using your personal document scanner test, you can easily identify which device is the best document scanner for you.
1. Digitizing paper mountains: This is what a document scanner offers
Regardless of brand, your document scanner test will find that there are significant performance differences between each category. This also applies to Fujitsu document scanners, HP document scanners and Canon document scanners.
The working speed ranges from a few sheets per minute up to several tens of thousands per day. So before you buy a document scanner, you should think twice about the amount of work it needs to do for you.
The pros and cons at a glance:
- fast digitization of large volumes of documents
- automatic processing of documents
- ideal helper in the digital office
- only loose leaves can be processed
- scanning small documents is often problematic
- Three-dimensional objects such as books can not be scanned
2. Speed, Resolution, Format: These characteristics are important
Depending on the type of scanner, certain document types can be processed very well. If you mainly want to scan images, higher resolution is more important than scanning plain text documents. The resolution is by no means the only criterion of concern.
2.1. The scan speed: High scan rate makes the job easier
The speed of scanning should not be underestimated. If you need to digitize documents on a regular basis, ultimately every page scans one more per minute counts.
Even if eight or ten pages per minute do not sound that bad at first, scanning with such a low scan rate can easily be a joke. This is especially true if the feeder shaft has a limited size and you must constantly refill documents.
More productive and affordable are the midrange entry scanners , which provide between 25 and 75 pages per minute. For very large amounts of documents are high-performance scanners that bring it to several 100 pages per minute, but are also expensive. These devices are only interesting if you use your document scanner professionally.
2.2. The resolution: Especially relevant for photos and graphics
dpi as a quality standard
dpi means dots per inch, which translates to “pixels per inch”. The term comes from the print area and indicates the number of printed dots per 2.54 centimeters. Thus, a 600 × 600 dpi resolution scan has 600 scan points in the X-axis direction and 600 scan points in the Y-axis direction.
Decisive for the quality of the scans is the resolution. While 150 to 300 dpi were regarded as respectable in the early days of document digitization, this level of quality is no longer up to date today. Good quality scans currently have between 600 × 600 dpi and 1200 × 1200 dpi.
For texts with graphics or images, this resolution is always sufficient. The situation is different if you want to digitize large quantities of photos. High-quality photo scanners bring it to 4800 dpi and put the devices for the text area so far in the shade.
2.3. The printing format: The most common is DIN A4
The most common document format is the DIN A4 format both in the office world and in private. Due to the widespread use of this format, the vast majority of document scanners and flatbed scanners have been optimized for scanning these sheets. Although there are also models that can handle smaller formats.
However, this often leads to problems such as skewed documents. Document scanners of the formats A3 or even A2 are not common and possibly available as very expensive special equipment.
2.4. The file format: PDF works only with the appropriate software
Most common with current document scanners is the storage of data in JPEG files. It is an image format that can be processed by virtually all common graphics and text programs.
But also the direct conversion into PDF files and some other formats is possible. To do this, however, the scanner must have the appropriate software. If the document scanner is cheap, powerful document scanner software may need to be purchased separately.
2.5. The Document Feeder: The larger the capacity, the better
One of the big advantages of document scanners is the automatic document feeder. The documents to be scanned are placed in batches in the feed chute and then fed in automatically by the scanner and further processed.
The larger the capacity of the intake shaft, the less frequently documents have to be refilled manually.In the product descriptions, the automatic scanner feeder is also referred to as ADF or automatic document feeder. In draft scanners are common intake shafts, which can accommodate between 50 and 1,000 sheets.
2.6. The color depth: 24 bits are enough for everyday office use
If you want to scan high-quality images or photographs, you will be interested in a high color depth of your scans. The color depth indicates the number of different shades that a scanner can recognize. While a color depth of 24 bits and thus the recognition of over 16 million color gradations is sufficient for everyday office work, the devices of the graphics professionals work with 36 or even 48-bit color depth.
2.7. The sensor: CCD is standard here
Most of the currently used scanners are equipped with so-called CCD image sensors. This type of scan sensor provides good quality scans via a lens and mirror system. The light source is a cold light lamp.
The elaborate optics of the CCD technology requires a minimum housing size, which can not be undercut. This also applies to flatbed scanners. In the so-called document scanners with duplex two of these image sensors are installed. Thus, the recording of the front and back is possible in one operation, the document scanning is done on both sides.
2.8. The connection: FireWire can be useful for large volumes of documents
Most scanners are equipped with a USB port that is perfectly adequate for home use. If, however, large, high-resolution images are often transferred, it is recommended to use a SCSI or FireWire port. But even a USB connection of the latest generation enables fast data transfer.
Another timely way to connect to your scanner is to connect to a network. Both models with LAN slots and WLAN-capable document scanners for the network are available.
Then it is easily possible for several people, as well as a multifunction printer, to access the network scanner. With the right document scanner app, some models can even be accessed by smartphone .
There are also scanners that can transmit their data via Bluetooth. Fujitsu goes a step further and offers the direct transmission of scanned documents to a cloud for its scansnap models.
3. The right software gets the most out of your documents
Each scanner comes with a scan program that covers the basic functions. This includes the appropriate driver and the ability to adjust contrast, sharpness and color saturation. A preview function is also available on virtually all devices. Some scanners are also equipped as standard with software that allows export to PDF files and some other file formats.
3.1. Bulk Documents: Many documents in one file
For some applications, it makes sense to save many documents in a single file. Special software makes it possible to read the documents in succession and then save them together in a single file.
However, if you can only rely on a limited computing power of your computer, you should choose the file size wisely. The processing of very large files in image processing programs requires a lot of computing power and can greatly reduce the working speed of the computer.
3.2. Text Conversion: Allows editing of texts
By default, the scanners will make an image of the scanned page, which will be stored in a graphics file. Although the document can be viewed in this form, it can not be edited. In order to be able to process a scanned text, it must first be converted by means of a so-called OCR software.
Many scanners come with such a program, with very few free programs are really powerful. If you would like to use this function more frequently when scanning documents, you should definitely switch to sophisticated payment software. Often after the text conversion an error correction with a program for spell checking is necessary.
Tip: The OCR software is a sophisticated IT product that has its price with the right quality. But if you want to get an idea of whether this type of software fits your document scanner test winner, you can rely on numerous test versions from the manufacturers to choose the best program for you.
3.3. Image editing: For fine-tuning the scanned photos
Many scanners also come with a program for the subsequent processing of graphics and photos. However, even these programs are usually simple versions that are not very powerful. If you would like to professionally edit your scans, you will not be able to avoid a professional image editing program like Photoshop or FotoPaint from Corel. These programs also provide the ability to access the scanner directly from them.
The software at a glance:
4. Tips to buy: The number of documents is crucial
When buying a document scanner review, the key question is how many documents need to be scanned at what time. If a smaller batch of invoices is to be scanned only once a month, a low-priced model with low scanning performance will be sufficient.
If, on the other hand, larger volumes of documents are digitized on a regular basis, it is worth investing in a more powerful device. If you can handle a scan speed of 25 to 50 sheets per minute, you will find a few hundred euros in retail.
A popular model in this class is the document scanner from Fujitsu Scansnap ix500. This scansnap model is suitable for Mac and PC. The powerful devices that handle 100 pages and sometimes significantly more per minute, are available for several 1,000 euros.
If you often need to scan documents from customers, you can rely on a mobile scanner such as the Canon imageFormula P-208. The mobile devices are extremely handy and weigh well under 1 kilogram.
5. Questions about the document scanner
5.1. How does a document scanner work?
Unlike flatbed scanners, where each sheet has to be placed one at a time, the document scanner automatically feeds in the scan templates. In the so-called feeder shaft up to several hundred documents are inserted, which the scanner then processes independently.
For example, in accounting, when many documents need to be digitized, a document scanner is a useful office supply.
5.2. What can a document scanner do?
Document scanners are designed to scan as many documents as possible in a short time. Their strength lies less in a high resolution, which is particularly important when scanning photographs, but at a high operating speed.
5.3. Which document scanner is suitable for Mac?
Many, but not all, document scanners do their work on Mac OS, the in-house Macintosh operating system. Before you buy, make sure that the new scanner works with your Mac.
However, these devices can not compete with the scanning performance of a document scanner and therefore do not necessarily convince with an outstanding scanning performance.