Tips for Buying Scanners
A scanner can be a real asset to your computer system in the long run. It’ll help you organize your data digitally without having to rely on an external store, thus reducing scanning costs and giving you the freedom to manage things quickly and easily. You do need to research it a bit before buying one though, to make sure you have something that’ll serve you well for a long time. There are many types of scanners available in the market today, each built to meet specific needs.
Flatbed Scanners are the type most commonly used today, and for good reason. They give you good quality scans easily; all you have to do is flip the lid and place your document on the scanning bed. They allow you to scan pretty much anything that can be placed under the lid actually, including fabrics and other 3D objects. The biggest document size they can handle is letter, however legal size scanners are also available. On the flipside, they are pretty big and will occupy some space on your desk, so plan accordingly.
also known as transparency/film scanners, scan film negatives and slides. Some flatbed scanners have an in-built slide scanning feature while others allow you to add it at a later date. Since a lot of photography has gone digital, home users with basic needs won’t need this feature. However, if you think you might need it sometime in the future, it’s better to get a flatbed scanner that has the option of adding attachments rather than spend unnecessarily on a new, separate device later.
Sheet-fed scanners are the more traditional scanners and are not preferred much these days. Smaller in size than flatbeds, these have a scanning head around which the document is rolled. The reason they’re losing popularity is they don’t give the best resolution results.
Handheld scanners are created for portability, so while the resolution might not be as powerful as the other types, these are perfect for frequent business travelers. They normally scan a sentence at a time, although recent models can even scan the entire document on the go. You can choose from a pen scanner that attaches to your laptop with a USB cable, or a business card scanner that will keep your contacts updated at all times.
Drum Scanners are extremely powerful, high resolution machines used primarily by graphic design and printing professionals. Huge in size, these also create results that can be enlarged without making the image appear blurred or pixelated.
When purchasing a scanner, it is important to keep a few factors in mind. The most crucial one is the resolution, i.e. the quality of the scan. Measured in dpi(dots per inch), the resolution tells you how clear and sharp the image will look. For example, if you need to send a photo to someone via e-mail or post it online, a 75 – 100 dpi resolution is good. However, if you need to print out your scan at a later date, you’ll need at least 300 dpi. The higher the resolution, the more it can be enlarged or edited without pixelating the results. While resolution of up to 4800 dpi is available these days, a 2400 dpi scanner should be sufficient to meet the needs of the basic user.
Another term you should know is color depth, which is the amount of color the scanner can save. Since this has a considerable impact on your image quality, go for a color depth of at least 24 bits per pixel.
Almost all new scanners connect to your computer with a 2.0 USB cable, which, while backward compatible with a 1.1 USB port, will slow down the speed. So if you have an old computer, it is advisable to get a 2.0 USB port inserted for quick, efficient scanning.
If you are planning on scanning huge quantities of documents, an automatic document feeder is a great feature to invest in. A lot of scanners also offer one-touch functions with buttons for e-mail and printing, which saves time and makes life that much easier for you.
Another extremely useful feature to insist on is Optical Character Recognition (OCR), which lets you scan documents, open them in a word processing program like MS Word, and edit them as needed. While most scanners come with a basic software that lets you save and resize your photos, check to see if you’ll need a dedicated image editing software like Adobe Photoshop, which lets you play around with the colors and a lot more.
So whether it’s that old family photo album you want to protect from harm, or a document at work that needs to be updated immediately, with the right scanner, you won’t be more than a few clicks away from the solution.