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best flatbed scanners

The Best Flatbed Scanners in 2021

Author: Robert Wilson

Electronics & Peripherals Expert

The flatbed scanner cuts a fine figure on the desk. In various tests, the external testers check how large the deviation is between the original and the scan. Our excellent editors have also evaluated hundreds of customer reviews.

Epson Perfection V600

Epson Perfection V600
5,060 Reviews
Epson Perfection V600
  • Create extraordinary enlargements from film: 6400 x 9600 dpi…
  • Remove the appearance of dust and scratches from film:…
  • Remove the appearance of tears and creases from photos:…
  • Restore faded color photos with one touch: Epson easy photo…
  • Scan slides, negatives and medium format panoramic film:…

HP ScanJet Pro 2500 f1 Flatbed OCR Scanner

HP ScanJet Pro 2500 f1 Flatbed OCR Scanner
  • Boost productivity with fast, versatile scanning. Produce up…
  • Scan pages up to 8.5 x 122 inches (21.6 cm x 309.9 cm)…
  • Don’t wait for warm-up—instant-on technology lets you…
  • Sharp images and powerful editing tools. Accurately capture…
  • Get sharp, true-to-life scans of documents, graphics, and…

Viisan A3 Large Format Scanner

Viisan A3 Large Format Scanner
  • [A3 large format & high speed] VIISAN 3120 designed for high…
  • [high resolution Contact Image Sensor (CIS) & Supports…
  • [Convenient Auto-Scan Function & NO More Waiting] VIISAN…
  • [Unique Frameless Narrow Boundary Design & High strength of…
  • [1-year limited warranty] We provide a one-year warranty for…

Plustek A3 Flatbed Scanner

Plustek A3 Flatbed Scanner
  • ✔WE SCAN SIZES – A3 11.69″”x 17″ Large Format Scanning
  • ✔NO MORE WAITING – LED Light Source, Save Energy, No Warm…
  • ✔HASSLE-FREE OPERATION – Pre Set Function One-Touch Button…
  • ✔POWERFUL SOFTWARE BUNDLE – Enhanced OCR Accuracy with…
  • ✔SCAN MODE – 48 bit Color /16 bit Gray-Scale for Scan Art,…

Canon CanoScan Lide 300 Scanner

Canon CanoScan Lide 300 Scanner
2,641 Reviews
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,…

Epson Expression 12000XL-GA Flatbed Scanner

Epson Expression 12000XL-GA Flatbed Scanner
  • Professional large-format scanning — accommodates…
  • Extraordinary image quality — 2400 x 4800 dpi resolution,…
  • Enhanced color with the colorful II imaging system —…
  • One-touch color restoration — Epson’s exclusive easy…
  • Batch scanning for increased productivity — scan multiple…

Plustek OpticSilm 2680h

Plustek OpticSilm 2680h
  • 【High-Speed】- Scans quickly and easily up to 3 seconds…
  • 【Edit and Search】- Built-in PDF button, easily scans and…
  • 【Image Processing】- Software can Auto Rotate, Deskew,…
  • 【One-Key Operation】- 4 one-touch buttons(Copy/Scan/PDF…
  • 【Support】- Supports TWAIN protocol for Windows 7/8/10….

Frequently Asked Questions: Flatbed Scanners

What is a flatbed scanner?

A flatbed scanner is a special device for data acquisition. The originals placed on the glass are systematically scanned by the scanning unit. It is interesting that the original analog data, such as the page of a trade journal, are converted into a computer-readable digital format with the help of sensors with the aid of an analog-digital converter. In general, there is also talk of an optomechanical process.

Even if many multifunction printers are already equipped with a scan unit, stand-alone flatbed scanners achieve a much better scan quality overall. Flatbed scanners are characterized by a very flat and compact design. They are available for A4 and A3 formats.

The originals and images to be scanned are placed directly on a pane of glass, covered with a lid against natural light radiation and scanned using the scanning unit located in the base of the device. The operation of a flatbed scanner reminds us of the operation of a photocopier, but in this case no paper copy comes out of the device.

Flatbed scanners can be equipped with extensive additional functions. Modern devices can forward the scan result directly by email or send it to cloud storage. Even an immediate conversion into the popular PDF format is possible. Smartphones and tablet PCs can now be conveniently connected to a scanner.

Depending on the manufacturer and model, flatbed scanners are equipped with a special transparency attachment, with which we can digitize and ultimately even develop photo negatives or slides.

In addition to a conventional power connection, most flatbed scanners are connected to a computer via the USB port. Some devices can also be wirelessly connected to the computer via WiFi.

How does a flatbed scanner work?

From a flatbed scanner test, we would be happy to explain how these devices work. As mentioned before, most scanners are connected to the computer via USB. A suitable scanner driver, which the manufacturer provides free of charge, is usually required for proper operation.

Modern operating systems do not even require the use of a driver CD from the manufacturer, as the corresponding drivers for almost all common flatbed scanners are available in their internal databases. In addition to the driver, a scan program is quite helpful. We can use this to convert our scan result into another file format or use the flatbed scanner in connection with an optional printer as a photocopier.

In addition, there is usually a so-called OCR program in the scope of delivery, with which we can convert digitized texts into a format that can be read by word processing.

Make sure your scanner is in a safe and easily accessible place in your home or office. The devices with wireless connection can of course be set up much more flexibly and independently of the location of the computer.

For the first function test, for example, we place a photo on the glass surface of the flatbed scanner and close the cover. The scanning process can either be done directly by pressing a button on the scanner or using the scan program on the computer. The original is then scanned.

With a low noise, the scanning unit moves below the glass plate to the end of the largest possible scanning area. When using a DIN A4 scanner, the entire size is scanned, regardless of how big the original is. We can view the scan result directly on our PC monitor.

Many models use a number of photodiode cells to capture images. Here, for example, more than 8,000 individual light diodes can be lined up. Line-by-line scanning takes place, whereby a color filter must also be used for operation. It is interesting that the actual light diodes are absolutely color-blind. This means that only the intensity of the color is measured and not the color itself.

If the original slips, we can repeat the scanning process as often as we want until the result convinces us. We can conveniently save the final result on our computer’s hard drive. As already explained above, it can be passed on by email or to cloud storage.

The scans sometimes reach an enormous file size. To make it easier to use, we should therefore lower the resolution a bit with the help of an image editing program and thus create a more acceptable file size. If you want, you can also graphically change or revise a scan at any time.

What are the advantages and use cases of a flatbed scanner?

If you are interested in a flatbed scanner test winner or our comparison winner, then you should also learn something about their advantages and areas of application. We must not forget that flatbed scanners are primarily used to read analog

  • Documents,
  • Book pages,
  • Magazines,
  • Pictures as well
  • possibly slides and negative strips

to digitize in order to be able to process them on the computer.

A nice example is when you want to save an old black and white photo of your grandparents for later making a new photo print. Perhaps you have found a particularly important section in a book that absolutely has to be included in your master’s thesis. Even those who have found a delicious recipe in a trade journal can scan it in and add it to their own collection.

Ultimately, backups can be created from sensitive analog media with a scan and are thus preserved for posterity. Whenever we like, we can print out a scan or otherwise pass it on digitally.

The advantage is that flatbed scanners can scan not only in black and white, but of course also in color. This was not the case with the first models. In addition to backing up and archiving documents and images, text recognition or OCR play an important role.

If a document is scanned, the result is initially only available as an image file. With the help of appropriate OCR text recognition software, the text contained in the image can be analyzed. The higher the image quality, the more reliable the text recognition. We can then save the result in a format that can be read by a word processor.

The practical thing is that the converted text can then be processed as normal. However, we must be careful that the OCR program translates it correctly. In most cases there can still be some typographical errors that need to be corrected manually. Even good OCR text recognition cannot offer one hundred percent accuracy.

The advantages of a flatbed scanner

  • digitizing texts and images,
  • important documents and photos can be archived,
  • OCR text recognition possible,
  • Forwarding of the scans by email or to a cloud,
  • easy installation and simple operation,
  • attractive price-performance ratio.

What types of flatbed scanners are available?

Maybe you would like to know what different types of flatbed scanners there are. We therefore limit our explanations to this type of device and leave the other scanner models out; such as

  • Hand scanner,
  • Photo and slide scanner,
  • Feeder scanner or
  • 3D scanner

The flatbed scanner by scan size

The most common flatbed scanners include the models that have a ** scan size between A4 and A3 **. For professional use there are also flatbed scanners up to a size of DIN A0. These are financially rather uninteresting for home users and very expensive.

If you choose a DIN A3 flatbed scanner, you should consider that the image file created can be quite large. Subsequent image processing is therefore necessary. You can’t go wrong with an A4 scanner. These devices are already available very cheaply.

Advantages

  • Scan size depends on the available support surface,
  • DIN A3 and A4 are completely sufficient for home use,
  • attractive price-performance ratio.

Disadvantages

  • Support surface can be too small for large originals,
  • the larger the scan area, the larger the output file,
  • Subsequent image processing may be necessary.

The flatbed scanner with transparency attachment

Flatbed scanners that have their own transparency unit are very popular. This is a scanner cover in which additional lighting is integrated.

With the help of the transparency unit and a corresponding holder, we can digitize slides and negative strips. Conventional flatbed scanners without a transparency adapter understandably do not offer this option.

Advantages

  • Slides and negatives can be read in
  • Scanner offers extensive functions.

Disadvantages

  • Housing cover is a little higher and therefore also the space required,
  • Devices with a transparency attachment are usually a bit more expensive.

The flatbed scanner with CIS technology

In a test, we also have to differentiate the flatbed scanners according to the scan technology used. The CIS flatbed scanner works with the help of LED light-emitting diodes. CIS stands for Compact Image Sensor. This technology is not only particularly energy-saving, it also does not require a long warm-up phase.

However, the light-emitting diodes only achieve a shallow depth of field, which means that only very flat documents or images can be scanned in sharp focus. The result looks a bit fuzzy when the books are open.

Advantages

  • no long warm-up phase,
  • energy saving.

Disadvantages

  • weak LED power,
  • only media placed flat are scanned sharply.

The flatbed scanner with CCD technology

The flatbed scanners with Charged Coupled Device, i.e. with CCD technology, have very bright lamps that achieve an excellent depth of field. Understandably, these scanners require a little more power than the CIS scanners. But the scan results are also better. Even media that are not completely flat can still be displayed with good sharpness.

Advantages

  • high depth of field,
  • first-class scan results even with media that are not lying flat.

Disadvantages

  • longer warm-up phase,
  • need more electricity.

How to setup a flatbed scanner?

If you have bought a new flatbed scanner, you should find a suitable place for it. With wireless operation, of course, you have more leeway. Otherwise you are always bound to the length of the USB connection cable.

In earlier times, the installation was quite laborious. You were only allowed to connect the scanner to the PC after the necessary drivers from the CD had been installed. Today you can connect modern flatbed scanners straight away to the USB port.

The operating system detects new hardware and tries to install the appropriate driver either from its own local database or via the Internet. An optional scan program that you can use to perform simple scanning tasks is quite useful. As a rule, however, the installed graphics and image processing programs also recognize your new scanner immediately, so that the results are also available there.

Some manufacturers offer OCR text recognition as special software. This allows you to convert the text areas from scanned templates into a format that is valid for word processing.

For testing, you can either press the scan button on your flatbed scanner or start the scanning process using software. Simply place a document or photo on the glass surface beforehand and then close the cover.

In order to be able to digitize slides and negative strips, these are clamped into a guide rail below the cover that contains the transparency unit. Most of the time, the pictures are inserted into a template and can therefore be easily fixed in the lid.

How are flatbed scanners tested?

In a flatbed scanner test, external test persons put a wide variety of devices through their paces. Based on the knowledge gained, they can provide the necessary clues that are important for a purchase decision.

The scan resolution of the flatbed scanners

The scanning resolution of a scanner is measured in dots per inch. For example, on many models we can find information such as 4,800 x 4,800 dpi or even 9,600 x 9,600 dpi.

The higher this information, the higher the actual pixel density and thus the quality of the scans. This resolution is used not only in scanners but also in printers for the print quality.

As already explained above, a high pixel density also leads to a larger scan file. In the tests, most of the devices achieved a sufficient scan resolution of at least 4800 x 4800 dpi.

The tonal range

The tonal range shows us how much image information is stored in a scan. It measures the darkest and lightest part of an image. So that an image looks as detailed and true to color as the original, the tonal range should be precisely balanced.

A good tonal range can therefore ideally reproduce a scanned medium almost 1: 1. The comparison test winners achieve particularly good values here. If you want, you can improve the tonal range later with an image editing program.

The scanning speed

The scanning speed is specified in seconds. This value tells us how long it took for a page to be completely scanned. Good devices achieve values of an average of 5 seconds for an A4 page.

The connectivity

Flatbed scanners mainly have a USB port. There are also models that offer an HDMI connection. Likewise, there are always flatbed scanners available on the market that allow a _wireless WiFi connection_.

A wireless connection is always advantageous when wiring to the PC would be impractical for reasons of space. In a test, models with and without WiFi connection can be found.

What do I have to look out for when buying a flatbed scanner?

There are still a few points to consider when purchasing a flatbed scanner.

The right size

As already explained, A4 and A3 flatbed scanners are offered in the private sector. When choosing, you should pay attention to the required purpose and the available space. Do they really have to be large A3 scans or is A4 format perhaps enough? Modern A3 scanners are only slightly more expensive than the smaller A4 models.

Special scan functions

Flatbed scanners with the so-called scan-to functions are quite popular. For example, some models offer a practical scan-to-email function. This means that the scan results can be immediately packaged in an email and sent to the desired addressee.

With the scan-to-PDF function, the scan results are converted into the familiar PDF format. PDF documents are particularly forgery-proof and can also be sent in compressed form by e-mail.

Finally, there is the scan-to-cloud function. This enables us to send our scans to a cloud-based online service such as Dropbox, OneDrive or iCloud.

The scope of delivery

Please also note the scope of delivery of your flatbed scanner. Many devices are only spartan. You will find a suitable power cable, but often no USB connection cable included.

Many manufacturers now do without a driver CD. It is assumed that the drivers are accessed directly via the operating system or from the Internet. In any case, it would be nice to add software, such as a scan program or OCR text recognition.

Transparency attachment

Remember to buy a flatbed scanner with a transparency adapter in good time if you absolutely want to digitize negative strips or slides. This is a great way to secure and archive your old movie treasures. Appropriate software also offers the option of creating a real positive image from slides or negatives.

Understandably, flatbed scanners with transparency unit cost a little more than the models without this function. However, it is always useful to have such an option available for security reasons.

Flatbed Scanner Accessories

We can recommend the following useful accessories for flatbed scanners:

Glass cleaner

With frequent use, the flatbed scanner’s glass surface can quickly become dirty. A standard glass cleaner ensures a clear view again. Instead, there are also special cleaning sprays on the market that are intended precisely for this use. The small pump spray bottles are a bit more expensive, however. In addition, you will also find special cleaning cloths in stores.

USB connection cable

A suitable USB cable is not always included with a scanner. In this case you should definitely pay attention to such a connection cable when ordering. It is important that the connection on the scanner side can vary. If you order online, you will often be offered a corresponding set offer. So play it safe.

Transparency unit and negative stencils

Some scanner manufacturers offer you the option of replacing the cover with a transparency unit at a later date. Then you can easily digitize slides and negative strips.

In this context, you should also buy suitable stencils in which both individual slides and the cut negative strips can be inserted. These later ensure that the negatives do not slip during the scanning process.

Flatbed Scanner Alternatives

Perhaps you are wondering whether there are alternatives to a flatbed scanner. In fact, there are interesting solutions, but there is always a slight loss of quality to be expected. The most popular solutions include, for example:

The digital camera

You can also digitize documents and pictures with a conventional digital camera. For this purpose, the templates are simply photographed in full screen. This is done professionally by placing the templates on a flat surface and illuminating them well from both sides.

You can also use a so-called repro stand so that you can achieve the correct viewing and photographing angle. This is a kind of tripod with which we can photograph our templates directly from above in a top view.

Make sure that the depth of field is optimally set so that all image areas can be clearly seen. With digital cameras, we should first carry out a manual white balance so that the color and especially the black and white values are optimally displayed.

Smartphone, tablet

Another alternative is the smartphone with a camera. Many manufacturers offer free apps for this, such as CamScanner or GeniusScan, with which you can make excellent scans of documents or images.

It is only difficult to find the right shooting position, which is not so easy with a relatively small smartphone. The built-in cameras in smartphones today achieve a high quality that does not need to be hidden behind conventional digital cameras.

The scanned results can easily be forwarded wirelessly to other digital devices. The scans can also be sent to a cloud.

The multifunction printer

Finally, we have to mention the multifunction printer as an alternative to flatbed scanners. These all-rounders are used for printing, scanning, photocopying and sometimes also for faxing.

Lately these devices have caught up a lot in terms of quality and can deliver excellent scan results. But you still can’t quite get close to professional flatbed scanners. A big advantage is that these multifunction printers only have to keep a single space available for all tasks.

Last product update on 2021-06-23 | Source: Amazon Affiliate