Comparing Different Types of Document Scanners

Computer technology and software development have reached a point where users can scan documents in high definition. Scanning devices have also shrunk in size and are available in miniature forms that can even fit in one’s pocket! The market is flooded with different types of scanners and it is important to have ample knowledge about them.

The scanners of the past were pretty bulky and slow. The output of those devices was poor in terms of resolution and PPI (Pixel Per Inch) reproduction.

Document scanners are mainly used by professional photographers, students, and researchers. Although, it also found its way in the corporate world for digitizing paper-based documents that save both time and money!

Without further delay, let’s jump right into the different types of document scanners. These scanners are broadly categorized into 4 different types.

Flatbed Scanners

Even thought flatbed scanners look like it’s a device from the past, they are most preferred by business organizations and office spaces. The overall appearance of these type of scanners is similar to that of a flip top printer. Unlike a printer, one faces a glass top surface after opening the lid of the scanner.

The document that needs scanning is placed on the glass surface. The size of the scanner dictates the size of the document that can be scanned. Flatbed scanners are also capable of scanning hardbound books, photographs and even newspaper articles.

Why it’s preferred?

Quality – Flatbed scanners are mostly preferred for their high-quality scans and pixel reproduction capabilities. Other forms of scanners with ADF (or Automatic Document Feeder) function can end up making the document wrinkled during feeding.

It will result in the morphed or incomplete scanning of the document. Flatbed scanners are also capable of taking snaps on both sides of the document without physically moving the same.

Convenience Flatbed scanners are pretty much the same since they came into existence in the consumer goods industry. For this particular reason, users prefer to install flatbed scanners in their home and office spaces. The familiarity of the users with the operational interface and maintenance of the device is the reason behind the success and popularity of flatbeds.

Photo Scanners

Document scanning and scanners do not need to reproduce the document in high resolution and maintain immersive color/contrast levels. Professional photographers need scanner that has the software and hardware to reproduce and capture photographs in high resolution.

Maintaining similar color depth, temperature and mimicking the contrast levels of the source document is crucial. Photographers who are looking for a device that can digitize pictures directly from celluloid films of still cameras; they can turn to these portable photographic film scanners.

Photo scanners are equipped with specialized algorithms in their firmware. They are also equipped with dedicated hardware. It enables the device to convert analog photographs to digital form from unprocessed sources like celluloid films.

Why it’s preferred?

Speed – The capturing and processing speed of photograph scanners are significantly more than that of other scanner types.

Portability and size The most appealing factor of photograph scanners is that most of them come in the compact package. They are designed in such a way that they can be taken anywhere and everywhere. Photograph scanners make the use of hardware that consumes very less power. For this particular reason, they can run on rechargeable battery packs and other portable power sources like your car outlet!

Sheetfed Scanners

As the name implies, these scanners operate only after being manually fed with the document that needs scanning by the user or operator. Although, there are some expensive models that come equipped with ADF (Automatic Document Feeder) feature.

ADF enabled scanners do not need human intervention; the documents are placed on the feeding tray, the ADF kick in and the documents are scanned one after the other. If a particular document has materials on both sides, the ADF is programmed to turn the document to the other side for scanning the same.

Why it’s preferred?

Fast Scanning – Sheet-fed scanners are not only designed to be compact, but they offer quick scanning service to the user by removing the need for human intervention. It further results in quick completion of the scanning process when compared to that of traditional scanners.

OCR Feature – Most of the ADF enabled document scanners also come equipped with advanced OCR (Optical Character Reader) software. It is an essential feature for converting analog transcripts into digital form.

Portable Scanners

Portable scanning devices are one of the many marvels of modern technology. These small devices are capable of scanning documents with satisfactory resolutions. These scanners either scan documents line by line or a single page at a time. Since these scanners are not capable of reproducing scans in high definition, it is mostly used by students and travelers.

Why it’s preferred?

Versatile – These devices come in handy in times of business or personal emergencies. Portable scanners run on rechargeable battery packs, therefore, making these devices appropriate for on the go use.

Availability of Various options  – Portable scanners are available in various shapes and sizes. There are some scanners that resemble a fountain pen and can scan a full page document at a single go! The quality of the scanned document depends on the price, size and hardware of the scanner.

Advanced features – Present day portable scanners have advanced features and sophisticated algorithm coded into their operation firmware. It enables them to provide the user with impressive scans at fast speeds. Enhanced pixel reproduction, efficient OCR (Optical Character Recognition), etc. made these devices a must have for home and office use. On top of that, with the changing time, students and researchers are also using these portable scanning devices to limit their carbon footprint!

Comparing Different Types of Document Scanners

The following table sheds light on the different types of document scanners:

Scanner Type Recommended For
Flatbed Scanners Office & academic use
Photo Scanners Professional digitization of photographs
ADF enabled or Sheetfed Scanners Bulk scanning
Portable or handheld scanners Preferred by researchers, travelers & students

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