Watch the SnapScan S1100 in Action
Important note: this is not a duplex scanner – it can only scan one side of a page at once, and it can’t use the standard scan software built into your computer, which is a problem for people who like to reduce the amount of bloatware and extra programs installed on their systems. To use this scanner, you’re going to need to install the software on the included cd-rom, and fill up your list of program files (or “applications”, on the Mac), with a bunch of software you may not want. This also means that iff you have a netbook with a cd-rom drive, you’ll need to download the software from Fujitsu’s website before you can get started. This scanner would be good for light duty usage: printing something to sign it, then scanning it back in – stuff like that. Don’t get it for big jobs with stacks of paper, especially not for office use with many users. For a heavy duty jobs, this would be a frustrating choice. And don’t get it to scan pictures – you’ll be much better off with a flatbed scanner for pictures.
- Moderate price
- Highly Portable: 12.2 ounces
- No power supply required: USB powered
- Decent OCR performance
- One-touch PDF creation
- Up to 600 Dpi
- Flimsy output and document feeder trays
- No duplex scanning
- No TWAIN support.
- You have to use Fujitsu’s software
- Low quality photo scanning
- Not for shared or office use
A look at the DS-510
At around 26 pages per minute, it’s fast, although our testing did notice some lag time between the time that the scan button was pressed and the scanning began, typically around seven seconds. The LCD screen that Epson builds in is nice in theory, but in practice, we’re not sure how much we’d actually use it — generally in our office we start and stop scans from the computer, not from the scanner itself, and having a set of presets which can be referenced from a screen on the unit seems a bit redundant. We’d rather have these presets in software. As Epson makes clear with the name of this unit, this really is a document scanner. If you’re primarily going to be scanning photographs, you’ll be much better off with one of the flatbed scanners reviewed below. You can’t really have it all: You’ve got to choose whether you want to make really high quality photo scans, or really fast multi-page document scans. Don’t try to do both with the same scanner. This is why you’ll find many offices have both document and flatbed scanners — the former is for stacks of paper, and the latter is for photos and images. And one more thing: Like a lot of the scanners we tested, this one had problems with business cards, especially with OCR.
- 50-page document feeder
- 26 pages per minute scan
- LCD screen
- Supports documents up to 8.5 x 36″
- TWAIN support
- Good OCR accuracy
- Lag time on scan command
- Not great with business cards
- Expensive for a home scanner
- Not the best choice for photo scanning
Watch it in action
You see, feeding your receipts and other paper odds and ends into a scanner is only half the battle. Or maybe only a quarter of the battle. The question then becomes: How do you organize all that data to keep track of it? This need is exactly what Neatreceipts have built their business around — they have the best custom software in the business for turning paper into usable data. The feature of this scanner that we found ourselves using most frequently was the option to “Combine all items in to a single PDF.” This was the most elegant time saving feature — scan everything in, and spit it all out as one PDF. The software also tries to extract data from your receipts, so you can plug it into Quickbooks or other accounting software. Your mileage may vary on this “data extraction” feature, depending largely on how readable your receipts are. But all together, the fact that this scanner comes with such great software puts it high on our list for a mobile scanner. If you’re looking for a scanner to carry around with you and scan in receipts and other bits of paper, you can’t go wrong with this thing. Another bonus: this unit ships with TWAIN and WIA drivers, so you can use it with the scanning software of your choice.
- Very small: 1.3 x 10.8 x 1.8 inches
- Very light: 10.6 ounces
- Included software works well
- TWAIN support
- Good business card scanning
- Not for photo scanning
- No document feeder
- Too slow for office use
Epson V600 Overview
Photo scanners like the V600 are not designed for speed or ease of use, they exist for one reason: To make great quality scans of color images and negatives. Don’t get one to use as a copy machine or for other office tasks. The primary advantage of a good flatbed photo scanner such as the V600 is image resolution. At up to 6400 x 9600 dpi, you can future-proof your photo and negative scans: You will rarely need a more high resolution digital image that this. If you’re a photo pro, you’re probably going to want to use Adobe Photoshop or GIMP to do your scanning, and Epson makes that easy with included TWAIN and WIA drivers. Also included is a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements, but for newbies, we recommend trying GIMP first, to avoid being crushed in Adobe’s increasingly tight and painful vice of digital rights management. (Do you like to sign into your desktop software every time you run the $%^#$ thing? Neither do we. But this reality of using Adobe’s horrifying ‘creative cloud’ offering.) Our tests also found that Epson’s ‘one touch’ functionality — i.e. scanning directly from the unit itself, with a physical button, also worked well, as did PDF export with Epson’s scan utility. Although we still maintain that ‘scan now’ buttons on these units are not particularly useful, since you’re sitting in front of the computer anyway.
- PC & Mac
- Digital ICE – Epson’s proprietary hardware based scratch remover
- Very high resolution
- One touch scanning
- Works well for slides and negatives
- Fast enough for everyday use
- No warm-up required: LED light source
- Built-in holder for slides and negatives
- Reasonable size for a flatbed scanner
- Large 8.75 x 12 inch scan bed
- No document feeder. Not for day to day office tasks
- Requires AC adapter (like most photo scanners)
- Not particularly fast
- Not portable – for home or office use only
Behold: Unboxing the LiDE 210
…the only difference is that the big brother model is about $20 more, and scans a bit faster with slightly higher resolution. So if you need a really really cheap scanner, you could also consider the LiDE110. Scanned resolution is up to 4800 x 4800 dpi, which is quite good for home usage, and we found also the color quality to be excellent. On the software side, the good news is that you don’t have to use Canon’s software – the LiDE210 ships with TWAIN drivers, so you can use Photoshop or your computer’s built-in scanner software. (We actually don’t mind “Windows Fax And Scan”, which ships with Windows 8, and “Image Capture”, which ships with Mac OS X.) The bad news is that if you do try to use Canon’s provided software “MP Navigator EX”, you’ll find that it’s something of a confusing mess. It tries to do a lot of things at once — scanning, editing, OCR, and ends up being really bloated and full of strange errors. Other reviewers have found the same issues. Similarly, OCR didn’t work so well when we tried it on the LiDE210. Our recommendation: Get the scanner, but don’t use Canon’s software. There are a lot of other great software solutions for scanning, and Canon’s drivers work well with all of these that we tested.
- PC & Mac
- Reliable drivers for use with 3rd party scan software
- Can be used in a vertical orientation, saving space
- Speed of 10 seconds per page at 300 dpi
- Up to 4800 x 4800 dpi.
- Great image quality
- USB powered, no power supply necessary
- Don’t bother with Canon’s scan software
- Poor OCR performance
- No paper feeder – not for large document stacks
CanoScan 9000F MKII Overview
Seems like a small deal, but it’s important especially when the size of your original is small. If you’re, for example, scanning a letter-sized piece of paper, which you plan to scan and print out again at the same size, then 4800 x 4800 is ample, even overkill. But if you’re scanning a tiny negative, that’s a different issue. And if you’re scanning a small negative which you then want to blow up really big — then resolution is a huge issue. Ever seen an image on a huge billboard? For advertising, companies use really high-end, expensive scanners, and that’s important, otherwise you’d see a bunch of jagged pixels when blown up. So the decision to plunk down for a higher end scanner like the 9000F MKII comes down to this: What size is the thing you are trying to scan, and how big do you plan to blow it up to? If you’re just scanning stuff for the web, don’t bother with a high end scanner – it won’t make a difference. The 9000F is good for letter sized originals, but not much bigger than that, with a maximum size of 8.5 x 11.7. Like other flatbed scanners in this price range, it comes with adapters for negatives and slides. Canon’s FARE feature — “Film Automatic Retouching and Enhancement”, also deserves a look. Similar to Epson’s “Digital ICE”, this technology tries to automatically remove scratches and dust from scans, so you don’t have to do it manually in your image editor. But in the end, the most important question regarding the 9000F is “how high resolution do you need your output to be?”. If you need high res, you should consider this one.
- PC & Mac
- High 9600 x 9600 DPI resolution
- Fast start-up time
- Auto-scan mode detects what you are scanning
- Direct to PDF scans
- FARE dust and scratch removal
- Stable TWAIN and WIA drivers
- Copy / Email / PDF buttons on unit
- Expensive overkill if you’re scanning for web only
- Requires power cord in addition to USB power
- No document feeder
- Relatively large: 18.9 x 4.4 x 10.7 inches
Watch how fast the Fi-7160 is
Do not get a portable scanner or a flatbed scanner for your law firm or other office where you deal with tons of paper — just don’t do it. Document scanners like the Fi-7160 actually have significantly worse image quality than even sub-$100 flatbed scanners, but that doesn’t matter: The intended purpose is totally different. When your office has thousands of pages of documents to scan in, image quality is not the primary concern — the overwhelming concern is speed and paper handling, and this is where a high end office scanner like the Fi-7160 shines. You need a well built, and fairly expensive document scanner like this so you don’t spend hours hovering over the scanner, trying to feed it paper by hand, praying that the paper doesn’t get mangled or stuck. This scanner is fast. We found that it performed close to the advertised 60 pages per minute. The page feed holds 80 pages, which should be good enough for most offices. But the most important thing about this scanner is what it doesn’t do: It doesn’t mess up the paper feed. The single worst problem with cheap scanners is the same as with cheap printers — paper stuck in the feed. With the Fi-7160, you’re paying for the robustness of the paper feed. Other good points: We found the manual to be well written, and the included software to be intuitive and stable on Windows 7. We especially found features like ‘blank page skipping’ and ‘automatic cropping’ to be useful in an office environment.
- PC & Mac
- 60 pages per minute scan speed
- 80 page auto document feeder
- Very reliable paper handling
- Paperstream IP scan software
- LCD Panel (we didn’t use it)
- Good OCR
- Good manual
- Not a portable scanner
- Not a photo scanner
Full NeatDesk Review
but it’s also less than half the price. The Neatdesk includes standard TWAIN and WIA drivers (see definitions below), but the reason to buy a scanner from The Neat Company is that their software is good, and optimized for collecting data from scanned documents. We also found that this scanner was our best performer for business cards. If you’re a power user, or have your own organization system for scanned documents, this won’t be of much interest to you, but if you’re getting started with a ‘digital filing system’ for the first time, you probably cannot beat the NeatDesk — organizing scanned information is the core competency of The Neat Company, and we found that the software shipped with this unit performed well. We could mention other features — 600 dpi resolution for one — but this stuff doesn’t matter. When you’re dealing with large amounts of paper, the most important stuff is all about ergonomics. And NeatDesk has got this down to a science. If you just need to scan in receipts and business cards occasionally, or while traveling, get the lower priced model reviewed above, but if you plan to use your scanner in only one location, get this one, because it’s faster.
- Excellent software, dedicated to digital organization
- 600 dpi scanning
- 24 pages per minute
- Color or black and white
- Good OCR
- Reasonably small
- Reliable document feeder
- Good file export functionality
- Looks cool
- PC & MAC
- Requires AC adapter
- More expensive than a flatbed scanner
- Not for big offices where very high scan speed is required
Watch the S1300i in action
… with just a few caveats. First, unlike the other portable scanners under review here, this small and light scanner includes an automatic document feeder: This means you can stick a stack of documents into it, and it will scan them all at once. To be sure, it’s relatively large for a portable scanner, and the document feeder can only accept ten sheets at once, but if you have an on-location scan job, just the fact that you can feed this thing ten sheets at once is going to make a huge difference. Trust us. This is a cool unit, but it’s not for everyone. Need to scan primarily photos? Not for you. Need the cheapest scanner available? Not for you. Have heavy-duty office tasks and need a really fast scanner? Not for you. But for light home usage, and especially for on-the-road usage, this thing is awesome. It’s tiny, but surprisingly full-featured — to our knowledge it’s the only portable scanner that can scan both sides of a page at once. Be warned: This scanner does not come with a standard driver so cannot be used with the built-in scan software in your PC or Mac. You’ll need to use the software that Fujitsu provides, which we found to be pretty good, and easier to use than the packages that come with Epson and Canon units.
- PC & Mac
- Unique form factor
- Meets both office and travel needs
- 10 page paper feeder
- Well designed custom scan software
- No TWAIN Driver
- Not a replacement for a full featured desktop scanner
- Requires AC adapter or double USB connection
Must Watch Video:
You Won’t Believe What They Turned This Old Scanner Into
Watch the ScanSnap iX500 in action
Ultimately it was the wireless features and iOS connectivity which brought this unit over the top for us. More and more of us are switching to mobile devices for our day to day computing needs, and it’s only natural that we’d want to be able to do things like scanning without needing to get on our desktop machines. With the ScanSnap iX500, you can also scan directly to cloud services such as Dropbox and Google Docs. Incidentally, using these services with the ScanSnap is free, unlikely NeatDesk’s competing service “NeatCloud,” which charges a monthly fee. One final note: the iX500 does not ship with a TWAIN driver. You’ll need to use Fujitsu’s software. But we found their software to be so good that this didn’t influence our rating.
- Over 30 pages per minute
- Reliable sheet feeding
- Connects to iOS app for scanning to iPad, iPhone, and Android
- Very reliable paper handling
- Good OCR
- Small footprint
- Not cheap
- Not a portable scanner
- Not a photo scanner
- No TWAIN support
Frequently Asked Scanner Questions
What is duplex scanning?
A duplexing scanner makes a scans of both sides of a page at the same time. All of the desktop scanners we reviewed here are duplexing, and NONE of the flatbed scanners are duplexing. If you’re going to scan two-sided documents, you’ll want to be sure that your scanner is a duplexing scanner.
What is a TWAIN driver?
TWAIN dates back to 1993 — it’s a now more than twenty year (!) old standard for scanning drivers, supported on Windows, Mac, and pretty much all other computer platforms. The key question to ask yourself as a consumer is: Will you need your scanner to work on a wide variety of platforms, and with a wide variety of software? If so, you’ll want a scanner that ships with a TWAIN driver. Otherwise you’ll be mostly stuck using only whatever software the manufacturer has supplied.
What is a WIA driver?
WIA stands for Windows Image Acquisition, and as the name implies, it’s only applicable to the wonderful world of Windows operating systems. Applications like Photoshop and Paint.NET can access a scanner via the WIA driver. But in most cases you can also use the TWAIN driver, which is cross-platform.
What is an ISIS driver?
Another kind of driver, with less market penetration than either WIA or TWAIN. Nothing you need to worry about, actually.
What is OCR?
This is important. OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. You can use a scanner for years, and if you’re only scanning images and pictures, you’ll never need to deal with this. But if you are scanning text, and hoping to import that text into software (like Excel, MS Word, etc.), then you’ll need to use OCR. OCR varies in quality, but the most important factor is what you are feeding your scanner. If you printed this page, for example, your scanner would most likely scan this text, in this paragraph, quite perfectly, since it’s in a well-known font and on a white background. But just above this text, you’ll see green text on a grey background. That will be harder. Harder still would be nonstandard text, especially cursive and highly unusual fonts. In looking at reviews on Amazon, we’ve seen a lot comments such as “This scanner is bad at business cards!” — we think that in many cases, this is because the hapless user is feeding the scanner a business card with really strange text, cursive text, raised text — this kind of stuff is really common on business cards. So, scanners do vary in their ability to do correct OCR (i.e. get a 99% or 100% rate of correct letters) — but the single most important factor is not the scanner, it’s the source material. Clean copy, on a white background, with a predictable font – that should work well for OCR on almost any scanner. This is a big topic — you can read more on OCR here.
What is DPI?
Dots Per Inch. The higher the DPI, the higher the resolution of your image. All other things being equal, the higher the DPI you scan at, the better your image will look. But there are a few important caveats: Most importantly, many outputs — for example, output on a computer screen — won’t show more than 72 DPI anyway, and unless you are looking at the image on an ENORMOUS screen, you’ll never need more than a 300 x 300 DPI scan. If you’re making billboards, that’s a different story. In this case you need a high DPI. Also, if the original that you are scanning is extremely small, for example a slide or a photographic negative, you’ll want to make as high DPI scan as you possibly can, since you’ll necessarily be blowing up the image considerably. Read more on DPI here.