Best Scanner

Article Contents

A scanner is a device that captures an image from a physical object or document to create a digital copy of it. They come in a wide range of designs and styles, but overall their purpose is to create a digital backup of a physical image or document. Some of the most common models on the market are flatbed designs that have a glass bed that you lay a document onto and then a light is used to scan the item and create a digital copy of it. These have become increasingly powerful, with high-resolution models often used for photographs and illustrations.

There are also specialized scanners used to capture images from older photographic film and slides, as well as smaller versions that can quickly scan a business card. Pen scanners provide small options for scanning individual lines of text, while portable models can be used to scan any document at any location. Consider what types of items you have to scan, where you'll be doing most of your scanning, and take a look at the scanner buyer’s guide below to find the best model for your needs.

Best Flatbed Scanner:

Considering a flatbed scanner? One of the first things you should at is the maximum resolution a model will scan at since higher resolutions promise crisper images with more detail. From there, you should also consider if additional software for photo manipulation and digital illustrations is bundled with your unit of choice. While you may want to use image editing software on your computer, the programs provided with these scanners are usually tailored to the scans they produce.

If you primary focus is scanning photographs and high-quality illustrations, then consider one of the following flatbed scanners we’ve chosen for this list. They all offers excellent image quality thanks to maximum resolutions of at least 2400 x 4800 dpi and 48-bit color depth. All of these models have scan areas of at least 8.5 x 11.7 inches which gives you enough space to scan most documents and photographs. These scanners compatible with both Mac and PC computers and offer convenience features like scanning media directly to email or PDF files.

Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner

This is a terrific scanner offering some of the best resolutions of any flatbed model out there, up to 6400 x 9600 dpi. That incredible resolution also comes with some solid secondary software and features for photo restoration and precision scanning. You get a scan area of 8.5 x 11.7 and it works well with both PCs and Macs. Read Full Review

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    Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner

    Canon Office Products LiDE220 Document Scanner

    There is a lot to like about this affordable flatbed scanner which functions well for a wide range of tasks. Maximum optical resolution is 4800 dpi, which is quite good with digital resolution going all the way up to 19,000 dpi. Read Full Review

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      Canon Office Products LiDE220 Document Scanner

      HP ScanJet G3110 Photo Scanner

      This is an excellent scanner that offers great image resolution at 4800 dpi, though it is not quite the very best on the market. The editing software bundled with this pick promises easy color correction and includes character recognition so you can scan a text document into an editable file format. Read Full Review

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        HP ScanJet G3110 Photo Scanner

        Epson Perfection V370 Color Photo, Image, Film, Negative, & Document Scanner

        This flatbed scanner provides a scanning resolution up to 4800 dpi and 48-bit color depth, plus a scanning area which can handle up to a letter-size document. It includes a 35mm film and slide adapter that makes it easy to scan a wide range of media types. You also get software for easy dust and scratch removal as well as scanning directly to cloud storage. Read Full Review

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          Epson Perfection V370 Color Photo, Image, Film, Negative, & Document Scanner

          Canon Office Products LiDE120 Color Image Scanner

          If you're looking for a nice and simple flatbed scanner, then consider this great option. While it's certainly not ideal for capturing detailed color images, since its maximum resolution only goes up to 2400 dpi, it’s perfect for text documents, photographs and simple imagery. Read Full Review

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            Canon Office Products LiDE120 Color Image Scanner

            Best Photo Scanner:

            While most flatbed scanners can easily be used to scan images of photographs, certain models and designs are simply better at it. For one thing, you typically want high resolution to capture all the detail in a photo, and deep color scanning to maintain image quality when using a color photograph. You should look for models that provide the best overall quality, as well as those that are specifically designed with photographs in mind.

            The following photo scanners give you the highest resolutions thanks to maximum optical resolutions of at least 2400x4800 dots per inch or dpi, though some of them can go much higher. They also offer the best color scanning since they all have at least 48-bit color depth, which ensures accuracy and vividness when scanning color photographs. All of these picks have been designed to easily handle a wide range of photographs thanks to scanner beds that can handle up to 8.5x11.7 inch documents.

            Epson Perfection V800 Photo scanner

            This is a flatbed scanner that is clearly designed to be excellent for capturing images from photographs with incredible scanning resolution up to a maximum of 12,800x12,800 dpi to ensure clear, detailed images. With 48-bit color depth and a nice large scanning area, this model is a great choice for all photo scanning projects. Read Full Review

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              Epson Perfection V800 Photo scanner

              HP Scanjet G4050 Flatbed Scanner

              If you're looking for the best color depth and overall quality in your photo scans, then this model is pretty hard to beat. It includes 96-bit scanning for incredible resolution and image quality, creating scans with resolution up to 4800x9600 dpi. You can even scan 35mm slides or negative frames using a built-in adapter with this scanner which makes it ideal for a wide range of projects. Read Full Review

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                HP Scanjet G4050 Flatbed Scanner

                Canon Office Products LiDE220 Document Scanner

                This is a really nice photo scanner that offers excellent image quality and resolution, though it just isn't quite the absolute best option on the market. It has a maximum optical resolution of 4800x4800 dpi, though digital resolutions can go up to 19,200 dpi. You get 48-bit color depth with this scanner, which is excellent but there are no adapters included for film or other items. Read Full Review

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                  Canon Office Products LiDE220 Document Scanner

                  Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner

                  If you're looking for a great option from Epson that's a bit less expensive than the V800, while maintaining high standards for quality, then give this one a look. It matches the V800 in nearly every way, though it's a bit slower but it's also much less expensive. You get up to 6400 dpi optical resolution with this model and it has 48-bit color, but the optical density is a bit lower than the V800. Read Full Review

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                    Epson Perfection V600 Photo Scanner

                    Canon Office Products LiDE120 Color Image Scanner

                    Here is another great option from Canon that works well and offers just about everything you need in a photo scanner, but its quality is just a bit lower than some other models. It has a maximum optical resolution of 2400x4800 dpi, which is great but not quite as high as some other scanners. The 48-bit color depth is excellent although it lacks adapters for scanning film or slides. Read Full Review

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                      Canon Office Products LiDE120 Color Image Scanner

                      Best Budget Scanner:

                      Scanners can easily cost you several hundred or even thousands of dollars, but it’s possible to find options which offer solid overall performance yet available at or below $200. A few different styles are available in this price range such as flatbed scanners and document-fed models, with flatbeds usually being the more affordable of the two. Naturally performance is important as well, so take your time to research image resolutions and scanning speeds on these devices to ensure they’ll meet your minimum scanning needs.

                      The budget scanners we’ve chosen for this best list might not match the professional quality of high-end models, but they’ll still provide excellent scans. Each offers excellent image quality thanks to maximum resolutions of at least 1200 dpi, 48-bit color depth to ensure vivid color quality and gradation, their USB 2.0 connections make them easy to set up, and lastly they offer quick scan functions such as scanning directly to a PDF document or email to enhance their efficiency.

                      Canon Office Products LiDE220 Document Scanner

                      The level of performance for the price of this scanner is just amazing. This is one of the least expensive scanners around, and it happens to offer image resolution up to 19,200 dpi, which is as good as devices twice its price. The 48-bit color depth is excellent and it has five buttons that offer simple functionality including scan to PDF and email. Read Full Review

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                        Canon Office Products LiDE220 Document Scanner

                        HP ScanJet G3110 Photo Scanner

                        While not quite as inexpensive as the CanoScan LiDE220, this model is still a great choice at a very reasonable price. This one comes in right around $100, and it offers great resolution and performance up to 4800 dpi. It is easy to set up and use, supports Mac and PC, connects via a USB port, and has four buttons for simple scan functionality. Read Full Review

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                          HP ScanJet G3110 Photo Scanner

                          Canon Office Products LiDE120 Color Image Scanner

                          This is one of the least expensive scanners on the market but you’re still getting solid performance and functionality. It has a maximum resolution of 2400 dpi, 48-bit color depth, and is not excessively heavy or bulky. Read Full Review

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                            Canon Office Products LiDE120 Color Image Scanner

                            Epson WorkForce DS-40 Portable Wireless Document Scanner

                            This is portable option is perfect if you want a document scanner rather than a flatbed model. You don't get tremendous picture quality or resolution with this model, making it better for documents and simple graphics rather than illustrations or photographs. It has a maximum resolution of 1200 dpi and offers 48-bit color depth, but its best feature is Wireless-N connectivity. Read Full Review

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                              Epson WorkForce DS-40 Portable Wireless Document Scanner

                              Mustek A3 1200S High Speed A3 Large Format 11.7x16.5" Color Scanner

                              This flatbed scanner offers a maximum resolution at 1200 dpi which is good for most media, but you may need something a little more powerful for detailed photographs and images. Offering 48-bit color, it can scan a page in about 10 seconds, but the low resolution is something to think about depending on your intended use. Read Full Review

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                                Mustek A3 1200S High Speed A3 Large Format 11.7x16.5" Color Scanner

                                Best Pen Scanner:

                                Pen scanners are generally small, hand-held items that let you easily scan a single line of text into a digital document. While scanning speed is important, it’s not the most important consideration and you should certainly look at the character sizes these scanners can handle. When looking at different models, you'll want to find ones which scan accurately while also offering a range of features which enhance their usability like dictionaries and character recognition for a wide range of languages. Many models work with different software programs and operating systems, and some even offer wireless connectivity as opposed to hard line USB connections.

                                The following pen scanners offer you the best in speed and accuracy with scanning speeds of at least 10 centimeter per second. They can handle a wide range of text sizes from 6 to 22 points, along with recognition of at least 20 languages in addition to English. Since you have to physically hold a pen scanner the entire time you use it, comfort is an important consideration so all of these picks weigh less than a quarter pound so you can use them for long periods without experiencing any hand fatigue.

                                Ectaco C-Pen 3.5 BT Bluetooth Handheld Scanner

                                The C-Pen has long been an industry leader as a pen scanner and the Bluetooth 3.5 model is no exception. It's fast and accurate, compatible with Windows, Mac, and Android operating systems, as well as supporting supports wireless Bluetooth and USB 2.0 connectivity. Read Full Review

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                                  Ectaco C-Pen 3.5 BT Bluetooth Handheld Scanner

                                  PenPower WorldPenScan X

                                  This is an excellent pen scanner that should work well for a wide range of situations. It's as fast and efficient as the C-Pen 3.5 and offers many of the same features such as Bluetooth connectivity, access to an online dictionary, and a spell-check feature. Read Full Review

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                                    PenPower WorldPenScan X

                                    IRIS IRISPen Express 7 Pen Scanner

                                    This is a very budget-friendly pen scanner so if you just need to effectively scan in lines of text without a lot of extra features, then give this model a good look. This model has recognition of over 40 languages, can read barcodes or scan images, and is powered by a USB connection. Read Full Review

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                                      IRIS IRISPen Express 7 Pen Scanner

                                      Planon ScanStik with VoiceNotes - SK600

                                      This is an interesting pen scanner that combines some of the functionality of a larger wand scanner with the small size and ease of use of a pen model. This model includes microSD card memory (though a card must be purchased separately) and it even has a small OLED display. Read Full Review

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                                        Planon ScanStik with VoiceNotes - SK600

                                        PenPower WorldPenScan SWPSBTK1EN Wireless Portable Pen Scanner and Translator

                                        This is a terrific option if you want translation tools along with line scanning while using a pen scanner. It can scan up to 15 cm/s and includes character recognition between 5-22 point sizes. It's lightest option you’re likely to find and includes excellent translation software with support for almost 200 languages. Read Full Review

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                                          PenPower WorldPenScan SWPSBTK1EN Wireless Portable Pen Scanner and Translator

                                          Best Portable Scanner:

                                          Ease of portability and scanning quality are the two major things you should look for in a portable scanner. In terms of portability, there are two primary designs on the market, the first being hand-held wand devices followed by freestanding units that you feed paper through. Your own preference and needs will likely determine which type is best for you although both types tend to work equally well. In terms of scan quality, you want to find devices that can quickly scan at high resolutions. You might also consider how easy to use these devices are, their compatibility with your computer system, and if they include secondary features like display screens and document feeders.

                                          We’ve chosen the following portable scanners because they offer great scan quality thanks to maximum resolutions of at least 600 dots per inch (dpi) which is ideal for both greyscale and color images. All of these models are easy to transport and set up, since none of them weigh more than about six pounds with dimensions no larger than about 15 inches. These scanners also process media quickly, scanning at speeds of at least seven pages per minute and they can also save scanned images as multiple file types including images and searchable PDFs.

                                          Vupoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner

                                          This is a terrific portable scanner which gives you all the options you could want in a single product. It includes both a hand-held wand to scan documents as well as a docking station that turns it into a paper-fed scanner. It offers resolutions up to 1050 dpi and can scan up to about 30 pages per minute at low resolutions. Read Full Review

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                                            Vupoint Solutions Magic Wand Portable Scanner

                                            Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Sheet-Fed Mobile Document Scanner

                                            If you really don't want a wand device, then give this lightweight model a good look. It's small and portable but comes with a fold-out document feeder so you can load up to 10 pages at a time for scanning up to about 24 documents per minute at low resolution. Read Full Review

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                                              Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Sheet-Fed Mobile Document Scanner

                                              Epson WorkForce DS-40 Portable Wireless Document Scanner

                                              This is an excellent portable scanner which not only offers excellent resolution and scan speeds but also includes wireless functionality. Maximum optical resolution with this model is 1200 dpi, which is excellent though its output maximum is 600 dpi. It can scan up to about seven pages per minute and can connect to your preferred device via USB or a WiFi connection. Read Full Review

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                                                Epson WorkForce DS-40 Portable Wireless Document Scanner

                                                Brother DS-920DW Wireless Duplex Mobile Color Page Scanner

                                                Here is another great option if you want a wireless portable scanner which functions with Wireless-N networks or through a USB connection. It has a maximum optical resolution of 600 dpi and can scan up to eight pages per minute. This one is a bit larger than some other models, weighing almost three pounds and measuring about 14 inches in length. Read Full Review

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                                                  Brother DS-920DW Wireless Duplex Mobile Color Page Scanner

                                                  Fujitsu Image Scanner ScanSnap SV600

                                                  This is a really excellent portable scanner, but it is also a bit of a niche item, so consider how you want to scan documents before choosing this one. Rather than feeding documents through it or holding it as a wand, this model stands and scans documents from overhead. With that in mind, it has a resolution up to 600 dpi and can scan up to 20 pages per second making it an ideal choice for scanning books or similar documents. Read Full Review

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                                                    Fujitsu Image Scanner ScanSnap SV600

                                                    Best Film Scanner:

                                                    A good film scanner is a specialized product designed to scan images from photographic film with as much detail as possible. While a regular flatbed scanner can be used to scan film, heat from the light can be potentially damaging so you’re usually settling for a low-resolution image with loss of color and detail. We’ve chosen the following best film scanners because they all offers scanning resolutions of at least 3200 dpi or 14 megapixel lenses and each supports at least two different types of film (typically 35mm and 120/200mm) so you can scan many different pieces of media. Additionally, these film scanners are compatible with both Mac and PC computers for greater range of usability, plus some of them include standalone features so they can be used without the immediate need for a laptop or computer.

                                                    Hasselblad Flextight X5 Film Scanner

                                                    This is an incredibly expensive scanner that produces some of the best scans from film possible. It's easy to use, works with a couple common film sizes, and produces incredible picture quality and clarity with resolutions up to 8000 dpi. Read Full Review

                                                    Hasselblad Flextight X5 Film Scanner

                                                    Wolverine F2D Super 20MP 4-In-1 Film to Digital Converter

                                                    This film scanner offers excellent resolution thanks to a 20 megapixel lens, though it can't match something like the Hasselblad model. You can scan from seven different source types and it includes a preview screen to see your scans in progress. Read Full Review

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                                                      Wolverine F2D Super 20MP 4-In-1 Film to Digital Converter

                                                      ION Film 2 SD Plus Hi-Res 35mm Slide and Negative Scanner

                                                      If you're just looking for a simple film scanner to use on occasion then this pick is likely a solid fit for you. It's very easy to use, works with 35mm film and slides, includes a film holder and other supplies, and offers good overall image quality thanks to a 14 megapixel lens. While it can't compete with a professional model, but it's also much more affordable. Read Full Review

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                                                        ION Film 2 SD Plus Hi-Res 35mm Slide and Negative Scanner

                                                        PacificImage PrimeFilm 120 Pro Film Scanner

                                                        What you have here is an excellent film scanner for light professional use or a hobby projects which demand high quality results. It works great for 35mm film or slides, but also supports other sizes for use with a wide range of media types. Resolution with this scanner goes up to 3200 dpi, which might not match a professional scanner, but the price on this model is also much more reasonable. Read Full Review

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                                                          PacificImage PrimeFilm 120 Pro Film Scanner

                                                          Plustek OpticFilm 120 Film & Slide Scanner

                                                          This is a solid scanner that offers excellent image quality and detail thanks to a maximum resolution of 5300 dpi and 48-bit color depth. It offers great functionality since it can handle 35mm film and slides, 120/200mm film, and even larger sizes. You also enjoy the benefit of built-in infrared scanning to help remove the appearance of dust and scratches in finalized scans. Read Full Review

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                                                            Plustek OpticFilm 120 Film & Slide Scanner

                                                            Best Slide Scanner:

                                                            While some flatbed scanners can be used to capture images from a film slide, the image quality usually isn't very good, so more specialized slide scanners work better. One of the major things to look at when picking such a device is the overall scanner resolution, measured in either dots per inch (dpi) or the megapixels of the scanner. It's also helpful to find slide scanners that are compatible for use with noth PCs and Macs. Some of these devices also include editing software and additional features that make them easy to use and give you more tools for scanning.

                                                            The following slide scanners slide scanners offer the best image quality thanks to maximum resolutions of at least 3600 dpi or lens quality of at least five megapixels. All of these devices are can be used with both Mac OS and PCs with Windows, and some of them can even be used as standalone devices. Each of these scanners also offer trays for 35mm slides so they're ideal for loose slides as well as 35mm negatives.

                                                            OpticFilm 8200i SE Film Scanner

                                                            This is a very expensive model, but it also produces the best image quality of just about any slide scanner on the market. It's compatible with both PC and Mac and offers incredible picture quality with 48-bit color scanning up to 7200 dpi. However, due to the high price of admission it's probably best for professionals looking to scan hundreds of slides rather than just casual use. Read Full Review

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                                                              OpticFilm 8200i SE Film Scanner

                                                              Wolverine F2D Super 20MP 4-In-1 Film to Digital Converter

                                                              Although less expensive than something like the Plustek OpticFilm 8200i SE, this is still a great choice that offers solid image quality. It has a 20 megapixel scanner that provides large, rich scans with great color clarity and overall detail. For professionals, the model from Plustek might be more attractive but this is probably the best option for casual use. Read Full Review

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                                                                Wolverine F2D Super 20MP 4-In-1 Film to Digital Converter

                                                                Plustek OpticFilm 135 35mm Slide and Negative Film Scanner

                                                                If you want the high performance and quality of a Plustek slide scanner without the high price point of the OpticFilm 820, then this is a great option. It has an optical resolution up to 3600 dpi and 48-bit color depth so scanned images look great and are rich in detail. The quality isn't quite as high as the 820, but this is an excellent option for someone who doesn't need a professional level of performance. Read Full Review

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                                                                  Plustek OpticFilm 135 35mm Slide and Negative Film Scanner

                                                                  Veho Smartfix VFS-008 Film Scanner

                                                                  This is an excellent, easy-to-use option that should work well for a wide range of amateur users. The five megapixel scanner isn't as good as some other models out there but it's still a solid choice. It comes bundled with some great scanning and editing software plus it works as a standalone device which functions with both PC and Mac computers. Read Full Review

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                                                                    Veho Smartfix VFS-008 Film Scanner

                                                                    Ion Slides 2 PC Film Scanner

                                                                    This is a good option for scanning 35mm slides and its small size makes it a great choice for travel or individuals with limited workspaces. While this five megapixel scanner scanner lacks any kind of standalone functionality or display, it can quickly scan dozens of slides in a matter of minutes without sacrificing too much image quality. Read Full Review

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                                                                      Ion Slides 2 PC Film Scanner

                                                                      Best Business Card Scanner:

                                                                      Although most scanners can usually capture an image from a business card, specific business card scanners exist which excel at handling this task. These devices are made to capture the text and small logos within a small business card format rather than oriented towards capturing high resolution images. Since these scanners are often used while traveling or at meetings, they’ve been designed with portability in mind as well as straightforward in function. Secondary features which make these devices more effective are also important, so take a look at how they import or export data in addition to any specialized image editing or organizational software provided with them.

                                                                      We’ve chosen the following business card scanners because each offers at least 300 dpi resolutions and are constructed to be no larger than 12 inches and weigh less than two pounds so they’re great for on the go professionals. These models also have been designed with feeders large enough to accommodate a wide variety of business cards and personal identifications.

                                                                      Penpower WorldCard Pro Card Scanner - LL1498

                                                                      This is great little device which scans and store data from business cards at up to 600 dpi resolution. It's easy to use, weighs less than 0.37 pounds and is barely over four inches long, plus it offers both Windows and Mac OS compatibility. Read Full Review

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                                                                        Penpower WorldCard Pro Card Scanner - LL1498

                                                                        Ambir Technology Duplex ID Card Scanner DS687-AS

                                                                        This device is definitely a great scanner for business cards and IDs. It scans up to 600 dpi and offers duplex performance, so you can scan both sides of a business or identification card with a single pass. This model is a little large, about eight inches long, and it only works with Windows, so it’s not a good choice if you prefer Macs over PCs. Read Full Review

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                                                                          Ambir Technology Duplex ID Card Scanner DS687-AS

                                                                          DYMO CardScan v9 Executive Business Card Scanner

                                                                          This is an excellent business card scanner that works well for both PC and Mac, and offers integration with different software on both types of systems. It can scan in both color and black and white, and offers very fast performance, scanning in monotone in less than two seconds. This model is less than seven inches long and weighs less than 0.6 pounds, so it’s perfect for travel use. Read Full Review

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                                                                            DYMO  CardScan v9 Executive Business Card Scanner

                                                                            IRISCard Anywhere 5 Card Scanner

                                                                            Here is another great option for a dedicated business card scanner that offers 300 dpi resolutions, but it’s a bit larger and heavier than some of our other choices. It's battery-powered, offers internal storage options, and it comes bundled with software for efficiently organizing scanned cards. Read Full Review

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                                                                              IRISCard Anywhere 5 Card Scanner

                                                                              DYMO CardScan Personal Card Scanner - 1760685

                                                                              This is a very good scanner that offers most of the same functionality as the DYMO CardScan Executive model, but with a few important differences. You only get black and white scanning and it works primarily with Windows software, though it can run with a Mac. This model is a bit slower to scan than but it is smaller and lighter than the DYMO Executive. Read Full Review

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                                                                                DYMO CardScan Personal Card Scanner - 1760685
                                                                                 

                                                                                Scanner Buyer’s Guide

                                                                                If you just need a simple, every day document scanner, then picking the right one is pretty easy. But if you want to have more options and need to scan photographs or illustrations, then making the right choice can be more complicated. Consider both document and flatbed scanners, along with other specialty types, to ensure you have a model which works for all of your needs. When it comes to image quality, you want to look at color depth, the element or image sensor, and optical resolution to ensure you get as good a scan as possible. You also want to keep in mind the sizes of your documents and any extra features you want before making a final choice.

                                                                                Document vs Flatbed

                                                                                While there are quite a few different types of scanners out there, the two most common ones are document and flatbed scanners.

                                                                                Document Scanners
                                                                                Document scanners have a feed or tray where you place a sheet of paper which is then pulled into the machine to scan each page. Some of these models have to be loaded manually with one piece of paper at a time, while others can handle multiple pages at a time. Document scanners are usually the best choice if you just plan on scanning in sheets with text and similar pages;

                                                                                Flatbed Scanners
                                                                                A flatbed scanner has a flat piece of glass onto which you place a sheet of paper or object to scan it. Flatbed scanners often provide better quality and are preferable for working with mediums such as photographs and illustrations.

                                                                                Special Types of Scanners

                                                                                There are also a number of specialty scanners to consider if you have some different or unusual objects to scan. Some devices are marketed as dedicated photo scanners, usually with a small bed for traditional photographs. If you're looking for a scanner that has print, copier and fax capabilities as well, then check out the best all-in-one printers for some great options.

                                                                                Slide Scanner
                                                                                One specialized type of scanner that is very useful is a slide scanner, which scans images from photographic slides. Most flatbed scanners cannot capture these kinds of images very well, so a special model is a wise investment if you have many slides you want to scan.

                                                                                Pen Scanner
                                                                                Pen scanners are great for portability and individual lines of text. This is especially helpful if you need to scan from a large, bound book which can’t work with a document scanner and would be unwieldy with a flatbed model.

                                                                                Color Depth

                                                                                Color depth, also called bit depth, refers to the amount of data, in bits, used for each pixel in a scanned image. More bits means more data used, which means you get better image quality so choose a model with as much color depth as possible.

                                                                                If you’re just looking to scan text documents and similar items, then a color depth of 24bit should be sufficient. For photographs, you want to choose a scanner with at least 48bit color depth for great image quality. There are some scanners available with 96bit color depth, but that is pretty unnecessary and 48bit should be sufficient.

                                                                                Element Type/Image Sensor

                                                                                The term “element” is typically used when looking at document scanners, while flatbed scanners often use the term “image sensor,” but in both cases it refers to the technology used to pick up light and create the scanned image.

                                                                                Charged Coupled Device (CCD)
                                                                                 A CCD image sensor offers the best picture quality and detail, so choose a flatbed scanner with CCD if you want the best scanned image possible.

                                                                                Contact Image Sensor (CIS)
                                                                                CIS is not quite as good as CCD, but still provides good quality and is lightweight. Choose CIS for a document scanner or if you don’y need the level of performance offered by CCD.

                                                                                Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS)
                                                                                CMOS is the lowest in terms of quality, but also more affordable. This type is a decent choice purely for document scanning where you don’t need high resolution or image quality.

                                                                                Maximum Optical Resolution

                                                                                The resolution of an image describes the width and height of it in terms of pixels. More pixels mean better image quality, so choose the highest resolution available for what you need. Optical resolution refers to the scanning resolution, so the higher the value the better the captured resolution.

                                                                                For document scanners, look for about 600x600 or 600dpi. This isn’t exceptional but is more than sufficient for text and low-quality images. If you want a flatbed scanner for photographs or illustrations, then you want much higher resolution. Choose a flatbed model with resolution of at least 2400x2400 or 2400dpi, though 4800x4800 or 4800dpi is a much better choice. If you really need incredibly high resolution for professional photography or illustration, you can even go up to 6400x6400 or 6400dpi.

                                                                                Maximum Document Size

                                                                                The maximum document size compatible with a scanner depends a lot on how the device is designed. Document scanners have a slot that can only fit paper of certain sizes, while flatbed scanners have a piece of glass that limits the size of the object or page that it can scan. The maximum size you need depends a lot on what you will be scanning, but there are a few things to keep in mind.

                                                                                Most document scanners can handle pages 8.5 inches wide, with varying lengths, and legal pages up to 8.5x14 inches are usually compatible, but if you need to scan 11x17 inch ledger pages, then look for a model with a wider paper feed. Flatbed scanners are likely to be large enough to handle up to 8.5x14 inches pages, but you will probably need to pay more if you need a large model that can handle ledger pages due to it requiring more glass and a wider bed.

                                                                                Additional USB Ports

                                                                                Just about every scanner on the market connects to your computer through a USB port, though there are some wireless models available. If your available USB ports are getting a bit limited, then consider a scanner that has USB input ports as well. This lets you connect other devices to your scanner, which then connect through it to your computer. You can pretty easily find document scanners with at least one available USB port, but they are less common in flatbed models.

                                                                                Manufacturer and Warranty

                                                                                Since scanners are electronic devices with a lot of moving parts and sensitive components, it is important to choose a model made by a reliable manufacturer that covers the device with a good warranty. Companies like Epson, Canon, HP, and Fujitsu all make excellent scanners that work well and provide you with very good scanned images. You can also look at Brother, Kodak, and Xerox for good machines that are reliable. A one-year warranty is pretty standard for scanners, but you may be able to find some models, especially professional ones, with longer protection.

                                                                                 

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