Scanners have become a vital piece of technology for small and mid-sized businesses. New generations of optical scanners are transforming the workplace, helping businesses rapidly digitize photos and other graphics, photos, archive news articles, create backup files of important paper-based documents, duplicate printed forms and letters, send faxes and more.
But selecting the right scanner for your business and finding suppliers can be complicated. Your key considerations as you look for a business scanner include these:
1) The type of scanner you need, such as a flatbed scanner, handheld, oversize, or other.
2) The scan resolution you are looking for, whether it's low resolution for basic document filing, or high resolution for high quality images.
3) Other features you want to have included in the scanner equipment, such as fax capabilities, copying or printing.
4) The usage volume you expect; whether it is intended for light duty, medium duty or heavy use.
5) Specific brands you want to look at.
6) Your price range. Whether your budget is under $100, or you are looking for top quality in the thousands, there are many scanners to choose from.
Educate yourself on computer scanner specsWhen buying computer scanners, pay attention to several specifications, including resolution, bit depth, type of sensor, interface and optical density.
Choose the type of optical scanner you needThere are several types of computer scanners, including flatbed scanners, which can scan both flat and bound documents, and sheetfed scanners, which can only scan loose pages.
multifunction scanners and other basic models in the listings at Business.com or at BestBuy, Office Depot and CompUSA.
If you’re mobile, consider handheld scannersHandheld scanners and portable scanners are smaller and more compact than regular optical scanners and are the perfect accessory for your mobile office.
wireless scanners at Business.com and Barcode Inc.; among the most popular brands is Wasp.
Make heavy-duty printing easier with commercial scannersEveryday computer scanners are fine for most people, but they can’t handle every job. In order to scan drawings, blueprints, maps and building plans, for instance, you’ll need a large format scanner. Drum scanners, which provide dramatically high resolution, are another popular choice for professionals.
large format scanners in particular, at Business.com.
Scan three-dimensional objects with a 3D scannerIf you want to scan more than photos and paper, consider a 3D scanner. Engineers and construction professionals use a 3D scanner—which scans three-dimensional objects and environments in order to replicate their shape on your computer—to create digital models and maps, while those in the entertainment industry use them to build virtual realities and realistic animations.
Outfit your computer scanner with softwareMost computer scanners come equipped with basic—but generally weak—image-editing software; upgrading to a more advanced program can vastly enhance your capabilities. Consider buying optical recognition (OCR) software, too, as it will allow you to edit scanned text within your word processor.
Browse computer scanner vendors for deals and discountsOnce expensive, entry-level computer scanners are now quite affordable at less than $200; be prepared to spend up to $1,200, though, for more advanced models.
- Most computer scanners’ resolution is measured in dots or pixels per inch (dpi or ppi). Look for computer scanners with at least 300 dpi; the higher the pixels, the better the image.
- Computer scanners pick up a specific number of “bits” per pixel in an image; look for a scanner with 24 bit depth for a high-quality scan of text, 30 bit depth for slides and negatives, and 36 bit depth for photos and color graphics.
- Pay attention to how an optical scanner connects to your computer. Some computer scanners connect via a parallel port—which tends to have a slow connection—but most models should connect via either USB or SCSI, which are much faster.
- Look for scanners that use a charge-coupled device (CCD); CCD scanners aren’t always as durable as other options, but tend to produce higher quality images.
- If you need truly high image quality from your computer scanner, pay attention to models’ dynamic range, or optical density (OD). Most optical scanners have an OD of about 2.8 or 3.0; look for 3.2 or 3.4, however, if you need images with more depth.