The 10 Best Scanners - June 2017
Every week we analyse the technical specs, reviews and prices of every scanner on the market in the US to determine our top 10 list.
In total we compared over 291 scanners, 616 reviews and 41,500 prices. Last updated 20 June 2017.
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Scanner Buying Guide
Scanners are devices used for digitising physical material such as documents and photos, and turning them into digital images for archiving, sharing and editing. They are extremely helpful peripherals, since they allow you to easily digitise large amounts of paper very quickly, meaning less clutter and mess on your desk! This guide will look at the major considerations when choosing a scanner, so you can find the device that is right for you.
There are several different types of home scanners available, though they can be largely placed into two main categories: flatbed or sheetfed:
Flatbed Scanners: These scanners consist of a large rectangular ‘bed’, onto which the documents are placed. The lid is closed, and the scanner runs the length of the document, creating a digital copy. These scanners tend to be slower than sheetfed models, and require far more deskspace when using. However on the plus side they produce higher-quality scans, and are also better for scanning photos and delicate documents. Large-size flatbed scanners are also the best option for scanning large documents and photos (A3 and larger).
Sheetfed Scanners: These scanners look a bit like fax machines - a feed at the top of the device takes the paper and runs it past a static scanning unit. The paper is then discharged the bottom of the device, and a digital copy is generated. Because these scanners don’t have to fit the whole document at a time, they can be significantly smaller - indeed many sheetfed scanners are a fraction of the size of an average flatbed scanner. This means they are far easier to transport and store. This portability comes at a cost - most sheetfed scanners aren’t nearly as powerful as their flatbed cousins, and so the scanning quality isn’t quite as good. However, for simple black & white document scanner, they should be more than sufficient. Therefore if all you need is to digitise your bills and invoices, a sheetfed scanner might be the best option.
Automatic Document Feeder
An additional extra mostly commonly found in sheetfed scanners is an automatic document feed (ADF). This is a system that allows you to place a stack of paper into the scanner, and the scanner will automatically feed in the documents, scan them, then eject them from the machine. This is extremely helpful for anyone needing to digitise a lot of documents at once, since you can queue 50 pieces of paper at once, and the scanner will take care of the rest. Not all scanners have this system, but it is worth seeking out if you routinely find yourself bulk-scanning documents.
Resolution & Scan Speed
As mentioned above, not all scanners scan at the same quality. The scanning resolution is measured in dots per inch - the higher the dpi, the better the quality of the scan. Very high resolutions also allow you to expand small photos into larger prints - something that is not possible with low-resolution scanners. High resolution is also important for retaining fidelity when scanning photos. As a rule 300dpi is perfectly fine for black & white text, but won’t suffice for photos - you will need something with at least 1,200dpi or higher.
It’s also important to consider the scanning speed of the peripheral. Different models of scanners can have extremely varying scan speeds - with some taking twice as much time to scan a page as others. The scanners on our site are measured in the amount of pages they can scan per second, split out into colour, black & white, photo, etc. While the speed may not make a difference if you only scan a single document every once in a while, if you routinely scan large amounts of paper, this can add up to a substantial time saving.
Device Size & Maximum Scan Size
As mentioned above, there can be a large difference in size between models of scanner. This is important not only for desk and storage space, but also because it affects what documents can be scanned. All of our scanners can handle A4 size paper and smaller, however it requires a specialist scanner to effectively digitise anything bigger than A4. For many people, this won’t be necessary - an A4 scanner will handle nearly all bills and important documents, and most photos.
However if you require the capacity to digitize larger documents (posters, blueprints, large books, etc) you will have to pay attention to the maximum scan size accepted by your chosen model.
Finally, there is a host of other considerations when choosing a scanner. These can include:
OCR Scanning: Some scanners come with software to perform Optical Character Recognition on scanned documents. This analyses the scanned image and picks out letters and words, turning the image into a readable and editable document. This is very important for anyone wanting to edit documents once they’ve been scanned, rather than just archiving them.
Film Scanning: Some advanced scanners contain the ability to directly scan film negatives and digitise them. While not a mainstream use by any means, it is a very helpful feature for digitising old camera film to keep the images safe.
Network Support: Most scanners connect directly to your computer via USB. However some have wifi, ethernet or bluetooth support, allowing them to be used wirelessly. This means that the document can be scanned from anywhere, and will be sent directly to your computer. This is helpful for offices, since the scanner can be in a central location, rather than being passed around from computer to computer.
Cloud Support: Related to the above - some newer network-enabled scanners have the ability to upload the scanned images directly to the Cloud, meaning they can be immediately be accessed by any computer, making it very easy to backup and share images all over the world.
Portability: Finally, some sheetfed scanners concentrate on the portability, making the device extra-small and including a carrying bag or case. If you frequently use your scanner while travelling, this may be a good option to consider.
Scanner Retailers, Prices and Features
Flat-Bed Scanner Prices
In total we found 121 flat-bed scanners ranging from $25 to $15,381. A new scanner costs on average $1,102 and 80% of scanners are priced between $90 and $2,241. The cheapest scanner that we found is the Epson Perfection V550 at only $26, and the most expensive is the Panasonic KV-S8127-V at $15,381.
Scanner Brands - Price Range
The average price of Panasonic flat-bed scanners is $5,655 which is the highest average price of all scanner brands. Panasonic flat-bed scanners range in price from $505 to $15,381.
The %8highest average scanner price out of all brands is Fujitsu flat-bed scanners with an average price of $2,235. Fujitsu flat-bed scanners start at $29 and the most expensive Fujitsu scanner costs $10,977.
The average price of Kodak flat-bed scanners is $1,777 which is the third highest average price of all flat-bed scanner brands. Kodak flat-bed scanners range in price from $120 to $4,819.
Flat-Bed Scanner Brands - Average Ratings
We have checked 204 expert reviews and 21 user reviews for flat-bed scanners from across the internet and used these reviews to calculate the average rating for each brand of flat-bed scanner. Avision is the top rated flat-bed scanner brand with an average rating of 85%. Fujitsu is the second best brand with 85% and Epson is the third best brand with 83%.
Biggest Flat-Bed Scanner Retailers
We found 111 current offers for flat-bed scanners from eBay making it the biggest flat-bed scanner retailer. That is significantly bigger than the second biggest retailer, Adorama for whom we found 92 current offers for flat-bed scanners. The third biggest retailer is Overstock with 37 current flat-bed scanner offers.
When Are Most New Scanners Released?
We looked at the release dates for new scanners over the last 3 years, but couldn't see any obvious trend. In December 2016 13 new scanners were released making it the biggest month that year for new scanner releases. September was the biggest month in 2015 for new flat-bed scanners, with 106 new flat-bed scanners released that month. 31 new scanners were released in June 2014 making it the biggest month that year for new flat-bed scanner releases.
How Fast Do Flat-Bed Scanner Prices Drop After Release?
In the first 6 months after release, scanners drop in price by 2% on average. If you are prepared to wait then you could save an average of $20 on a typical $1,102 new flat-bed scanner by waiting 6 months before buying.
Colour Scanning Functions
Optical Scanning Resolutions
We found 174 scanners that are flat-bed scanners that have an optical scanning resolution of 600 x 600 DPI, which makes 600 x 600 DPI the most popular optical scanning resolution amongst new scanners. We found 36 flat-bed scanners that are flat-bed scanners that have an optical scanning resolution of 1200 x 1200 DPI, making this the second most common optical scanning resolution amongst new flat-bed scanners.
Maximum Scan Sizes
The maximum scan sizes of scanners range from 2mm to 1,118mm. The maximum scan sizes of the majority of flat-bed scanners range from 190mm to 230mm. The HPHD Pro has the biggest maximum scan size. This scanner is a 1,067mm maximum scan size scanner and is available at $682.49. The HPHD Pro, which is priced at $299.99, has the smallest maximum scan size and is a 2mm maximum scan size flat-bed scanner.
Biggest Flat-Bed Scanner Retailers
We found 111 current offers for scanners from eBay making it the biggest flat-bed scanner retailer. That is significantly bigger than the second biggest retailer, Adorama for whom we found 92 current offers for scanners. The third biggest retailer is Overstock with 37 current flat-bed scanner offers.
Which Are the Cheapest Retailers for Scanners?
The retailer that most frequently offered the cheapest price on flat-bed scanners is eBay and offers the cheapest price on 74 flat-bed scanners.
Proportion of Flat-Bed Scanners for Which Each Retailer is Cheapest?
eBay most frequently has the cheapest flat-bed scanner prices (found to be cheapest for 66.7% of its scanners).