Best Document Scanner
Compare Specsthe Best Scanners For 2021
Settling on a scanner that suits your unique needs can be difficult. Many scanners on the market today can perform daily office activities, but they come in a wide range of styles and sizes that are fine-tuned for various purposes.
Text scanners, photo scanners, business card scanners, film scanners: That list is just a start. Here are the main questions to think about and ask before you move into buying any scanner. We’ll also take a look at the various kinds of scanners and their functionality.
The Best Scanner Deals This Week*
Canon ImageFORMULA DR-C225 II Office Scanner (List Price $449.99) Brother DS-640 Portable Handheld Paper Scanner (List Price $149.99) Xerox XD-COMBO Duplex Combo Flatbed Scanner (List Price $269.99) *Deals are picked by our partner, TechBargains Originals like images and stamps will go through a sheet feeder, but you risk destroying them.
If you need to scan this sort of original just once in a while, you might be able to get away with a sheet-fed scanner that comes with a plastic carrier to cover the originals. Bear in mind, however, that even brand-new, unscratched plastic carriers will degrade scan quality somewhat. Direct-to-glass is often easier. Scanner models tend to remain on the market for a long time between revisions, and this is particularly true of flatbed picture scanners .
Not only do they sometimes stay on sale for years, but often, few new versions are launched. We periodically update our Best Scanners roundup, so should you find a “oldie but goodie,” it simply means that no comparable model that we’ve tested has yet surpassed it.
Do You Need A Special-Purpose Scanner?
Finally, decide whether you need a special-purpose, rather than general-purpose, scanner. Among the most popular special-purpose choices are scanners for business cards (small and highly portable), books (designed to let pages lie flat), and slides (smaller than flatbed scanners, yet no better at scanning slides than flatbed scanners with equivalent features) (smaller than flatbed scanners, but no better at scanning slides than flatbed scanners with equivalent features).
Two other options are portable scanners (general-purpose sheet-fed scanners small enough to fit in your laptop bag) and pen scanners (which you keep and trace over text) (which you hold and trace over text). Some of the new portable models can work without a device attached, scanning to a memory card or even to a smartphone. You can also find some that act as both portable and desktop document scanners by combining a portable scanner with a docking station that includes an ADF.
Depending on what you need to scan, either one of these could be a good option, either as your only scanner or as a complement to a general-purpose scanner. We’ve highlighted a couple of our favorite unique scanners in the picks below.
Best-Rated Document Scanner
Brother DS-640 Portable Mobile Document Scanner Several reviews agree that you don’t compromise quality for size and price with this lightweight and inexpensive scanner. “The scanning quality is amazing! ” begins one customer, who includes a photo that she scanned with this product.
“When I sent some scanned old family pictures to my ‘techie’ brother, he thought I bought a higher priced scanner.” Another reviewer who used this scanner to compile over 15 years of family images into photo albums, describes this scanner as “slim, portable and fast. [It] was easy to set up on our MacBook Air.”
When it comes to documents, reviewers agree that “it does a very nice job on all sorts of documents in either color, black and white, or grayscale.” One teacher, who uses a wheelchair, says he no longer has to lug heavy binders around school, and can now scan notes directly into Word: “It’s easy to find and incredibly convenient! I would highly recommend this if you’re looking for a cost efficient scanner. I wish I could give it more than five stars! ”
Best-Rated (Less Expensive) Document Scanner
Canon CanoScan Lide 300 Scanner The price difference isn’t huge between this and our best-rated choice, but this scanner does give a different experience.
That’s because it’s a flatbed scanner, which means you can open the lid and put the documents or images right on the glass and can scan several pieces of paper at once. “I can put 4 standard size photos at a time on the glass and it takes less than 10 seconds to scan and send them to my computer,” writes one reviewer.
“It automatically crops each picture into its own photo file.” And becuase “the scanner door does not need to be closed while scanning,” another reviewer had no trouble scanning their sketchbook. “I usually put a small weight (such as a heavy book or paperweight) on top of my sketchbook to keep the paper in contact with the glass while scanning.” And if you only want to scan a normal, old piece of paper, that’s no problem either. “I found myself needing to scan some 600 pages of medical records onto a flash drive in PDF format,”
one reviewer writes. “The scanner on my printer runs some 40 seconds per page. With this Canon scanner, I broke the records down into batches of 100 pages and averaged 30-35 minutes per 100 pages.” Some reviewers were concerned this was dud when the first tried to use it, but you just have to “Remember to turn the ‘unlock’ switch to unlock when you first get the scanner or it will not work right out of the box,” one explains.
Best Portable Document Scanners
Brother DS-740D Duplex Compact Mobile Document Scanner “This product works better than I thought anything that portable could,” writes one reviewer, who describes the scanner as “EXCELLENT, EXCELLENT, just plain EXCELLENT.” He adds, “Setup and use is a breeze. The photos are professional quality and scan speeds are very fast.”
Another customer vouches for the easy setup and high-quality of this portable scanner, adding “this little scanner is just as good as my HP expensive one. I was amazed that I can scan in color, gray or B/W. If you are searching for a portable scanner, STOP LOOKING. THIS IS THE ONE.”
Dozens of reviewers say this scanner’s duplex capability “saves time” including one customer who has used theirs for four years and says that after traveling thousands of miles it still is “a little workhorse.” Another reviewer who takes this scanner with her on the go and calls it her “best friend” says,
“I love the fact that I can do duplex scanning without having to manually turn over each page. I can set where I want the document to be saved before I search, which is also nice.”
Best Wireless Document Scanner
Brother ImageCenter ADS-2800W Wireless Document Scanner “It ain’t cheap, but we will absolutely get our money’s worth out of this thing,” says one reviewer.
“If you are looking to scan documents (not pictures), scan a lot of them, not have to hassle with configuration, setup, fiddling with USB keys all the time, and for the thing to just work no matter what you throw at it … then this little guy will do the job.”
And more than 15 percent of reviewers appreciate that this scanner does all that without being connected to a computer. “You can scan to a file on your computer, to an email, or even straight to Google Dropbox with this model,” one writes, while another says, “I have never actually hooked it up to a computer directly, and I don’t intend to.” This scanner is also common in offices because it allows users “to install profiles for multiple users where you can choose the resolution and other features each user likes,” one reviewer explains.
On top of all of its little perks, this scanner also really works well. “I have already scanned over 10,000 pages on it and I have not had any major issues, maybe less than 50 jams, most of them caused by my own stupidity.”
Who Should Get A Portable Document Scanner
If you have a big pile of records and receipts that you need to digitize, these scanners are the fastest way to get the job done. But you may want one for other reasons too:
This may be the digital age, but a frustrating number of records still come solely on paper, and many of them need to be stored for years according to state and federal laws. Creating digital copies ensures you can remain in compliance without sinking in a sea of paper.
Makes Documents Easier To Find:
Since portable document scanners use optical character recognition (OCR) technology to convert printed text into searchable text, you can do word searches to find exactly the document you need in seconds. That’s a lot better than spending an afternoon searching through dusty filing cabinets.
Scans Are Harder To Misplace Than Paper:
Even if you’re meticulous about organizing and filing your receipts and tax forms, there’s always the risk you’ll unintentionally throw something out during a transfer or spring cleaning. It’s a lot harder to unintentionally discard digital copies, particularly when you’ve backed them up to a cloud storage account.
You probably won’t scan every day, which is why it’s nice that these devices are built to fold down into an even more compact profile for storage and travel. Stationary desktop scanners are quicker, but they take up more room on a desk, and you can’t simply chuck them in a drawer before the next time you need them.
If you already own a portable document scanner and like it well enough, you probably have no need to upgrade. Scanner production travels at a snail’s pace, and models often remain on shelves for as long as four or five years between revisions. That said, if your current scanner doesn’t provide Wi-Fi, can’t scan both sides of a document at once, scans significantly slower than you’d like, or doesn’t reliably recognize text, give our pick a look.
If you have an all-in-one printer with a flatbed scanner and an automated document feeder, you can think about purchasing a portable document scanner only if you notice that you really need to scan while you’re away from home. Portable paper scanners aren’t more reliable than all-in-ones and don’t show significantly better OCR performance.
How We Picked
Portable document scanners are simple devices: They scan documents and deliver digital files. But there are a few boxes they need to check in order to be worth your time and money, so we prioritized these attributes when surveying the available models. (nytimes.com)A good portable document scanner should be able to accurately recognize printed text through OCR and convert it into a searchable PDF.
The best portable document scanners can also export the text as an editable document, either in DOC, RTF, or TXT format. Ideally, a good scanner accurately recognizes every character, but realistically we expect a success rate of above 90 percent. (nytimes.com)Just a few years ago, Wi-Fi was a novelty in portable paper scanners.
Today it’s commonplace. Being able to run your scanner without a USB cable is a nice bonus, particularly if the scanning speed isn’t any slower. (nytimes.com)It’s right there in the word. Portable document scanners actually span a wide range of sizes and particularly weights from under 1 pound to well over 3 pounds.
Although machines with ADFs appear to be on the heftier side, we think a feeder is necessary enough to make the extra pounds worth it. Any model about 3 pounds or less is okay in our books.