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best document scanners

The Best Document Scanners in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

Welcome to our big scanner test. Here we present you all of the scanners we have tested. We have put together detailed background information for you.

We want to make the purchase decision easier for you and help you find the best scanner for you.

You can also find answers to frequently asked questions in our guide. You will also find some important information on this page that you should definitely pay attention to if you want to buy a scanner.

  • Scanners are used for data acquisition and feel or measure an object in a systematic way.
  • As a rule, a distinction is made between flatbed scanners, feeder scanners, drum scanners and film scanners.
  • When buying a scanner, the optical resolution, color depth, scan speed and ease of use must be considered.

Best Document Scanners

Brother Mobile Color Page Scanner, DS-620

Brother Mobile Color Page Scanner, DS-620
  • Fast Scan Speeds up to 8ppm in color and black/white
  • Compact and lightweight measures under 12 inches in length…
  • USB Powered included; No wall outlet required. Operating…
  • The drivers and utilities on the CD ROM/ DVD ROM for Windows…
  • Daily Duty Cycle (max. pages) 100. Media Weights Single…

This scanner from Brother is a handy and particularly mobile device with a weight of only 400 g. It scans various documents with a scan resolution of up to 600 x 600 dpi.

The mobile scanner creates around 7.5 pages per minute and has a USB 2.0 Hi-Speed connection. The scope of delivery includes, among other things, a practical carrying bag that makes it easier to transport the scanner.

Canon CanoScan Lide 300 Scanner

Canon CanoScan Lide 300 Scanner
  • Scan documents quickly and easily with fast scanning up to…
  • Digitize documents and images thanks to 2400 x 2400 dpi…
  • Enjoy ease of use with 4 ‘EZ’ buttons. With auto scan mode,…

The Canon LiDE 300 scanner is a flat board scanner for A4 documents and achieves a maximum resolution of  2400 x 2400 dpi. The scanning speed is around 10 seconds per page, depending on the color mode and resolution.

This scanner is connected to the computer via a USB cable, which also serves as a power supply for the scanner. So you only need one cable and avoid tangled cables. The device also has Auto Document and Photo Fix technology to optimize texts, graphics and images.

HP DeskJet 2622 All-in-One Compact Printer

HP DeskJet 2622 All-in-One Compact Printer
  • Make your life easier – This all-in-one printer, scanner,…
  • Our most powerful printing app ever – The highly-rated HP…
  • Ink delivered to your home: get your first 2 months free…
  • Compact and convenient: Put your printer anywhere you’d…
  • Save time and money: The DeskJet 2622 is HP’s most…

This printer from HP is a multifunctional device that combines printer, scanner and copier in one device. For uncomplicated use, you can access this device via Airprint, Cloudprint and Wireless Direct from your smartphone or tablet.

The device requires little power and is compact in size, which can be used in any office or home office. The printer has a print quality of up to 4800 x 1200 dpi and can print 7.5 pages in black and white or 5.5 pages in color per minute.

Brother DS-640 Compact Mobile Document Scanner

 Our Pick
Brother DS-640 Compact Mobile Document Scanner
  • FAST SPEEDS – Scans color and black and white…
  • ULTRA COMPACT – At less than 1 foot in length and only…
  • READY WHENEVER YOU ARE – The DS-640 mobile scanner is…
  • WORKS YOUR WAY – Use the Brother free iPrint&Scan desktop…
  • OPTIMIZE IMAGES AND TEXT – Automatic color…

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 Color Duplex Document Scanner

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1500 Color Duplex Document Scanner
  • Large, intuitive 4.3-inch touch screen for easy one-touch…
  • PC less scanning – Easily scan to your preferred…
  • Sharing capabilities with multiple users via one scanner:…
  • All in one solution to optimize your productivity. Includes…
  • The LCD Panel, WI-FI, and USB connections makes it easy to…

Epson WorkForce ES-50 Portable Sheet-Fed Document Scanner

 Our Pick
Epson WorkForce ES-50 Portable Sheet-Fed Document Scanner
3,022 Reviews
Epson WorkForce ES-50 Portable Sheet-Fed Document Scanner
  • Fastest and lightest mobile single sheet fed document…
  • Fast scans a single page in as fast as 5.5 seconds(2)
  • Versatile paper handling scans documents upto 8.5 x 72…
  • Smart tools to easily scan and organize documents Epson…
  • USB powered connect to your computer; No batteries or…

Canon ImageFORMULA R40 Office Document Scanner

Canon ImageFORMULA R40 Office Document Scanner
  • Stay organized: Easily convert your paper documents into…
  • Reliably handles many different document types: Receipts,…
  • Fast and efficient: Scans both sides of a document at the…
  • Broad compatibility: Windows and Mac TWAIN driver included
  • Easy Setup: Simply connect to your computer using the…

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Portable Color Duplex Document Scanner

 Our Pick
Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Portable Color Duplex Document Scanner
  • One touch scanning with Quick Menu options for PC and Mac
  • Scan up to 12 double-sided pages per minute – Holds up to 10…
  • Compact and portable design is USB or AC powered
  • Intelligent automatic image processing including auto color…
  • Scan documents directly to the cloud and access them from…

Doxie Go SE - The Intuitive Portable Scanner

 Our Pick
Doxie Go SE – The Intuitive Portable Scanner
  • 【Go Paperless】Doxie Go SE delivers smart, simple…
  • 【Fast, Easy Scanning】Doxie makes it easy to scan…
  • 【Tiny + Battery Powered】Doxie is tiny – the size of a…
  • 【Amazing Software and OCR】Included Doxie app syncs…
  • 【Protected by DoxieCare】Every new Doxie includes a…

Brother Wireless Portable Compact Desktop Scanner

 Our Pick
Brother Wireless Portable Compact Desktop Scanner
  • COMPACT DESIGN AND FAST SCAN SPEEDS HANDLE A VARIETY OF…
  • VERSATILE CONNECTIVITY AND PORTABILITY Use the Micro USB 3.0…
  • QUICK AND EASY SCANNING WITHOUT INSTALLING SOFTWARE Start…
  • COMPATIBLE WITH THE WAY YOU WORK ADS1250W supports multiple…
  • OPTIMIZE IMAGES AND TEXT Enhance scans with automatic color…

Frequently Asked Questions: Document Scanner

What is a scanner?

The main idea of the scanner is to capture data. This means that this device uses an analogue template to convert an image into a digital form with the help of sensors and an optical-magnetic-electronic conversion. These are usually smooth originals such as paper.

In this way, a large number of individual measurements are used to generate an overall image of the object, which is then transferred to the computer after the scanning process in order to be analyzed or visualized there. The data can then be saved there as an image file.

How does a scanner work?

Scanners work with light and reflections. This means that the image, document or photo to be scanned is illuminated with a light unit by moving a so-called scan head over the document.

The reflected light is passed on by an optoelectronic line sensor. How much light is reflected depends on whether the current area of ​​the image is either dark or light. The rod lens is responsible for bundling the light in it and eliminating stray light.

These light signals are then converted into an analog voltage by light-sensitive photodiodes. The more light falls on the rod lens, the more current is passed on, as a result of which the voltage is later converted into a digital value pixel by pixel by the analog-digital converter.

Since the different current strengths are divided into different areas, different binary codes are created from these strength areas, from which the image is then finally created.

A color scanner has several sensors which have a color filter and only allow a certain color to pass through. This is how the intensity of each color is measured.

What is the difference between copy and scan?

Since the data must first be scanned when copying, as the copier or printer would otherwise have no data to print on the page, one might think that there is no real difference between scanning and copying.

The difference, however, is that the data is only temporarily saved when copying and is immediately deleted after printing the image or document, while when scanning the data still exists after the process in order to be analyzed or visualized.

So you could say that the imported data is output directly on the printing unit when copying. In contrast to this, the scan function enables a template to be read in, which is then transferred to any software on the computer through a defined interface for further processing.

How do I find the right scanner for me?

Here again it depends on which area you want to use the scanner for. If you are someone who rarely has to scan documents, then a multifunction device is more the right choice for you.

If you want high-resolution documents, photos, and images, then you should get a proper scanner. Here it is important that you think about how much you are willing to spend on this device and what functions are important for you.

The higher and better the resolution, color depth, software, connection, scan speed, the more the prices rise.

You should also know what kind of scanner you would like to own. Because there are different types of scanners and they all have a different function. For example, if you Are you looking for a scanner that you can easily transport, mobile scanners are very suitable for this function.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of a multifunction printer with a scan option?

Many will probably ask why one does not simply buy a multifunction printer, which then not only contains the printing function, but can also copy, fax and scan. In addition, this option seems to be cheaper because you seem to get more for your money.

However, it should be mentioned that most multifunctional devices save on the scan unit. This means that the resolution, color accuracy, processing and the supplied software just meet the general requirements and therefore cannot keep up with the quality, speed, accuracy and software of scanners.

It depends, of course, on what you are looking for. If you want to achieve the highest quality scanning, a standalone device is recommended. If scanning is something you don’t have to do often, a multifunction printer is recommended.

Who should use a portable scanner?

The mobile scanners include hand-held scanners as well as smaller, portable draw-in scanners. For people who travel a lot, especially for work, and want to scan documents again and again, a mobile scanner can be the better choice than a more stationary model.

Mobile scanners are characterized by the fact that they are not only smaller and lighter, but also usually cheaper than other devices.

The majority of the devices are offered between 35 and 75 dollars. This investment can be worthwhile if you would rather use a professional device than your smartphone to digitize text documents on the fly.

Which accessories are recommended for scanners?

Depending on how professionally you work with your scanner and how carefully you want to digitally post-process your document, different accessories are helpful for you.

You can expect good post-processing software with most scanners, as well as a USB cable and included drivers. For a more professional use, there are special holders for slides or films that are included.

What are the alternatives for a document scanner?

To avoid purchasing a scanner to digitize photos, it is possible to purchase a digital camera.

Alternative ways to scan a picture, text or book are: multifunction printer, smartphone camera, scanner app on smartphone. Which of the possible solutions is suitable for you depends on what your intention is when scanning the document.

If you only want to create a form or text document as a file to be able to send it, the latter three alternatives are completely sufficient.

Investing in a pure scanner is only worthwhile for relatively professional photographers who would like to continue taking analog pictures, and for companies or private individuals who have to scan a large number of documents every day and for the high speed and superior quality of a pure scanner compared to a multifunction device are instructed.

Types of Document Scanners

Flatbed Scanner: Advantages & Disadvantages

As the name of this device suggests, a flatbed scanner is particularly suitable for flat documents such as documents, paper photos and clippings from newspapers and magazines.

Newer devices often only need a USB 2.0 connection to the computer, which is then used to exchange data and power the scanner. So it’s easy to use.

This type of scanner offers a large glass surface on which the original is placed with the side to be scanned facing down. A lighting and scanning unit passes under this glass plate for scanning. This process is similar to that of a photocopier. With this type of scanning, the object is not pulled through or moved, but remains still on the glass plate.

A flatbed scanner can scan documents up to DIN A0 in size. The advantage here is that documents that are difficult to scan, such as books, can also be scanned.

Advantages

  • Suitable for all kinds of flat templates
  • Books can be scanned
  • Convinced by its versatility

Disadvantages

  • Thick originals suffer loss of quality due to the incidence of light
  • Blurring around bulges and edges
  • Slides and negatives are difficult to scan

The reason why you should only use thin and flat originals for scanning here is that thicker originals suffer a loss of quality due to incident light.

The problem here is that there is then blurring at bulges and edges. This can also happen with photos. Therefore, in such situations, you should make sure to scan in dark rooms or put a blanket on the device to protect it from incident light.

Slides and negatives are also not that easy to scan. In contrast to photos, these are transparent and therefore have to be illuminated from the back instead of the front. Special flatbed scanners solve this problem with a transparency unit, but are therefore more expensive.

Feeder Scanner: Advantages & Disadvantages

Feeder scanners are particularly suitable for digitizing documents and loose pages. Synonyms for this device are also document scanner and swipe scanner. The advantage of this type of scanner is that a large number of documents can be scanned quickly and easily.

For this reason, draw-in scanners are often used in paperless offices, in banks and insurance companies as well as libraries, so that documents can be archived in the most space-saving and efficient way possible.

Advantages

  • Fast and therefore time-saving scanning
  • Space-saving and efficient
  • Multiple originals can be scanned at once

Disadvantages

  • Only documents can be scanned
  • You cannot scan thick originals like books

Possible edge distortions on smooth originals
In contrast to the flatbed scanner, the documents are automatically drawn in by a feeder and guided past the sensors. In the case of high-quality devices, it is also possible to put several sheets of paper in a stack on the storage surface so that the scanner can pull the pages through individually. The advantage is that it saves time.

There are also document scanners that are equipped with a duplex function. When the documents are swiped through, both sides of the sheet are scanned at the same time, which is also an advantage in terms of time savings.

However, it should be mentioned that this type of scanner can only scan documents. This means that books cannot be used for this. Another disadvantage is that smooth originals such as photos can lead to edge distortion.

Drum Scanner: Advantages & Disadvantages

The drum scanner is one of the oldest types of scanners. Despite its age, it can still deliver exact results today and has a resolution of around 12,000 dpi, a high scan speed and good quality.

The way a drum scanner works is very different from that of flatbed and document scanners. Here the template is attached to a rotating drum inside the device. The lighting and scanning system moves linearly on this so that the original is scanned in a helical manner. Depending on the design, the drum can be arranged horizontally, vertically or inclined.

The rotation of the drum takes place evenly, so that the lighting and scanning unit moves evenly past the original. This process always takes place at the same distance and always at the same speed. This prevents the document from bulging or wrinkling.

Advantages

  • Exact results
  • No bulges and wrinkles
  • High density range

Disadvantages

  • Expensive
  • Slow scan speed
  • Hardly made these days

Instead of CCD sensors, drum scanners have highly sensitive photomultipliers for reading in the data. These are light sensors that generate electrical power when light hits them. Since they are color-blind, only the intensity of the color is recorded here, but not the color itself.

Since the signal is amplified with a photomultiplier, the drum scanner has a higher density range than the flatbed scanner and can also reproduce color and brightness gradations in dark and light areas.

A disadvantage of these scanners is that they are often very expensive and, because of their size, not easy to handle. In addition, in contrast to a document scanner, a scan takes a very long time, which is why one tries to use the entire surface of the drum and to produce as many editions as possible.

However, it should be mentioned that drum scanners are hardly manufactured nowadays, since flatbed scanners and slide scanners are usually cheaper and also have the potential to become more powerful. For this reason, these scanners are only used when the highest quality resolution and density detection is required.

Slide Scanner: Advantages & Disadvantages

Flatbed scanners become slide scanners if they have a transparency unit. For slides and photo negatives, an optoelectronic conversion takes place in the scanner lid. In contrast to paper photos, which reflect the light downwards, slides and negatives allow the light to shine through upwards.

A cable connection between the cover and the base body of the scanner is therefore required for data transmission. The supplied clip-on templates of various sizes ensure that the templates are placed exactly.

Advantages

  • No blurring
  • Clip templates place templates exactly

Disadvantages

  • More expensive than flatbed scanner with transparency unit
  • Can only be used for slides and negatives

In contrast to flatbed scanners with transparency unit, the film is directly X-rayed with slide scanners. The glass plate of a flatbed scanner has a negative influence on the imaging performance, which is why a pure slide scanner is of great advantage, as blurring due to curved originals cannot occur here.

The disadvantage here is that these scanners are often more expensive than flatbed scanners with a transparency unit and can only be used for slides and negatives.

Handheld Scanner: Advantages & Disadvantages

Handheld scanners are small, easy-to-transport devices that you have to drag over the document you want to scan by hand.

In the 70s and 80s they were a very popular, because they were inexpensive, alternative to the much more precise desktop scanners, but went out of fashion in the early 90s because of the increasingly cheaper flatbed scanners.

At that time, these handy scanners could only scan about 10 cm wide strips with one movement and also had to be connected to the computer by cable.

Advantages

  • Is very space-saving
  • Can be easily transported and spontaneously connected to any computer
  • Often cheaper than larger models

Disadvantages

  • Not suitable for professional photographers due to its lower resolution
  • Must be dragged manually over the document

Later hand-held scanners became more popular again because they became mobile, can now scan entire A4 pages in one operation and were equipped with text recognition software very early on.

Line scanners, called digital highlighters, also developed and were characterized by built-in translation software. Nowadays hand scanners are popular instruments, especially in the commercial environment, but they are facing competition from increasingly professional scan apps for smartphones.

Document Scanner: Purchase Criteria

In the following we would like to show you which factors you can use to compare and evaluate scanners. This will make it easier for you to decide whether a particular scanner is right for you or not.

In summary, these are:

  • Picture Quality
  • Handling & Range of Functions
  • Scan Speed
  • Scope of Delivery

In the following paragraphs you can read about what the individual purchase criteria are and how you can classify them.

Picture Quality

The image quality is particularly important for a good scan result. There are several factors to consider. Optical resolution, color depth and tonal range are particularly important.

Optical resolution

In image reproduction, the point density is a measure of the level of detail in the rasterized visual representation. This makes it one of the quality features of the technical reproduction process.

For the flatbed scanners, the optical resolution should be specified as at least 4800 x 4800 dpi. The abbreviation DPI stands for dots per inch, i.e. points per inch.

With feeder scanners you should make sure that they have a resolution of 600-1400 dpi. A good drum scanner can achieve a resolution of up to 12000 dpi and thus has the highest possible resolution.

For slide scanners, it should be a resolution of 7200 dpi for semi-professional use. In the amateur sector, 4600 dpi are sufficient.

Color depth

The color depth determines an essential property of raster and vector graphics, i.e. the differentiation of all brightness and color values.

Flatbed scanners should have a color depth of at least 48 bits. That corresponds to a room of 281 trillion colors.

With sheet-feed scanners, it is not so important that the color depth is high. As a rule, 24 bits are sufficient here, which corresponds to a space of 16.7 million color tones.

For slide scanners and drum scanners, 24 bits to 48 bits are sufficient.

Tonal range

The tonal range gives you information about how much color information an image or image file contains. The difference between the lightest and darkest parts of an image is referred to here. So these are shades of gray. The tonal range is particularly suitable for books and text.

The range of hues can be regulated by image processing software. Therefore, tone correction is the most important means of optimizing brightness and contrast. The histogram serves as an aid to analyze the distribution of the tonal values so that these can then be corrected in a targeted manner. The best here are 16 bits (external) and 8 bits (internal).

Handling & Range of Functions

You have to decide which handling is best for you. Some scanners can only be operated by software, others also have so-called hot keys, which are located on the front of the scanner.

Another important criterion for your purchase decision is which functions the scanner can fulfill, i.e. which types of documents and photos can be digitized well and how the file can then be edited.

If you only want to scan text documents from the outset, you therefore need a significantly smaller range of functions than someone who needs their scanning to digitize and carefully refine high-quality negatives, slides and other photos.

Automatic scratch and dust removal is an enriching additional function of high-quality devices.

Scan Speed

In the case of scanners, the unit of measurement for the scanning speed is specified in the generated images per minute, in short IPM (images per minute). For this reason, scanners with a duplex function have a higher number of images generated.

In addition, the resolution must also be taken into account with the scan speed. The higher the resolution, the higher the number of pixels and the amount of data to be processed. For this reason, an original with a lower resolution is faster than a resolution with a high number of pixels.

A grayscale scan also requires more data to be processed than a color scan.

In general, one can say that feeder scanners can process up to approx. Ten pages per minute, high-performance scanners, which can turn the pages, capture 40 pages of a book per minute.

Scope of Delivery

The scope of delivery can also be considerable. The more helpful accessories such as driver CDs, instructions, connection cables and software are included, the more versatile you can use the scanner.

You are also better prepared for problems and can react to them better. However, if you already have other software solutions and do not need any assistance, you can ignore this criterion.

Facts about Document Scanners

How do I install a scanner?

  1. Turn on your scanner and connect it to your computer.
  2. Wait to see if the scanner is recognized by the device. If this is not the case, the two devices may not be compatible. The best thing to do is to contact the manufacturer and research suitable drivers on their website or get in touch with the company personally using one of the contact options.
  3. As soon as the scanner is recognized, it will search for driver software. Ideally, this happens automatically, otherwise you have to take care of it manually.
  4. To do this, you either have to insert an enclosed driver CD or search for the correct driver on the manufacturer’s website. However, if you have to download the appropriate software first, you have to cancel the installation process once and then restart it.
  5. After installing the drivers, your scanner should be ready to use. It is best to start a test scan to make sure that everything works.

Can I also scan with my smartphone?

Depending on what type of document you want to scan and what the file will be used for later, the smartphone can be an equivalent alternative to a normal scanner.

You can either install an extra scanner app or simply use your built-in camera. Especially when communicating with friends in harmless ways, the camera is sufficient to digitize texts or images and send them straight away via a messenger or email service or to transfer them to a PC via USB or Bluetooth.

However, it is more professional to download one of the many, often free, apps. These offer some useful additional functions.

A photographed book page is automatically recognized and the edges are marked, but you can also crop it manually. Post-processing of the scanned image is possible, but limited to very basic color gradations. Some apps also include text recognition software.

The scan can be saved as a PDF or JPG file or partially uploaded directly to a cloud. You have to note that the image quality still depends on your smartphone camera, as it continues to take the photo.

Examples of well-rated apps that are available in a free version are:

  • Adobe Scan
  • Cam scanner
  • Genius Scan (iOS)

Whether scanning with your smartphone is a suitable alternative for you depends on what type of document you want to scan where and in what quantity and quality.

It is very practical, especially for on the go and for a manageable number of documents. The quality is absolutely sufficient for everyday scans, especially of text documents, but a real scanner is required for professional photographers or official company communication.

Last product update on 2021-04-10 | Source: Amazon Affiliate