Whilst most scanners come with an A4 area, minimal edging and a flatbed design will still make it easy to scan more cumbersome pieces in sections and piece together later. Resolution The resolution of a scanner is normally written as two numbers (1200 x 2400 for example).
Q. Can my scanner only scan images or documents into a computer?
A. Some scanners can only scan images into a computer, however, others can connect to
Android and Apple devices via WiFi and deliver documents directly to a tablet or smartphone.
Q. Can I scan negatives with a scanner?
A. Yes, you can scan negatives using a scanner, but with a couple of provisos: it must be a flatbed scanner with a resolution of at least 1,200 DPI, and you need to have a transparency adaptor.
Q. What kind of software should my scanner come with?
A. Different scanners come with different kinds of software that can enhance your scanning experience, and make your life that little bit easier. We've already talked about OCR software that transforms a written document into editable text, but other programs that may come with your scanner include photo editing software with color restoration, software for compiling tax or business reports, and PDF converters. Some software simply lets you manage your scanned documents so you can email them directly to people, or send them to various online locations.
Our editors independently research, test, and recommend the best products; you can learn more about our review process here. We may receive commissions on purchases made from our chosen links.
- Most Popular:Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 at Amazon, “Scans everyday documents like business cards, receipts, and handwritten notes.”
- Best All-Around: Epson Perfection V550 at Amazon, “With rapid scanning and no warm-up time, the flatbed device pays heed to your busy schedule.”
- Best Budget:Canon’s CanoScan LiDE220 at Amazon, “At just under $100, it scans documents and photos and sends them automatically to the cloud.”
- Best for Film:Epson’s Perfection V370 at Amazon, “Use bundled adapters to scan film or slides, or scan regular photos up to 13 x 19 inches.”
- Best for Mobility:Visioneer RoadWarrior 4D Mobile Scanner at Amazon, “OneTouch software can send the scanned document in various formats to multiple locations.”
- Best for Business Cards: Ambir DP667 Card Scanner at Amazon, “The size of a stapler, it can efficiently scan documents ranging from business cards to those measuring up to 4 x 10 inches — all at 600 dpi.”
- Runner-Up, Mobile: IRISCan Book 5 Wi-Fi Mobile Scanner at Amazon, “Scan your documents into JPEG, PDF, and multipage PDF formats and send them to your mobile devices or PC.”
Our Top Picks
Most Popular: Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Document Scanner
The FujitsuScanSnap iX500 Document Scanner scans everyday documents like business cards, A4 and A3 paper sizes, receipts, and handwritten notes. It comes with a slew of productivity software for optical character recognition, or OCR, and it exports documents quickly to virtually any modern device or cloud service you can think of. And like one or two other scanners on this list, it includes Wi-Fi connectivity.
It comes with its own application software designed to store and categorize every document that you scan. The scanner’s software is ScanSnap, a program with an intuitive menu for easy access to files, quick cloud service exporting, receipt extraction that transfers to CSV files for easy tax filing, as well as a business card database compatible with Excel, Outlook, and Salesforce.
Curious about how these products function? Learn all about how scanners work.
Best All-Around: Epson Perfection V550
Whether you work in an office or are looking for something for personal organization use, the Epson Perfection V550 is versatile and reliable, capable of scanning both high-quality images and documents. With rapid scanning and no warm-up time, the flatbed device pays heed to your busy schedule. ABBYY FineReader Spring Plus OCR turns your documents into editable text and also allows you to send the scan to your printer, email it, or save it in the image format of your choice. However, keep in mind that if you’re looking to scan a large number of documents, it does lack an automatic document feeder.
As a photo scanner, the V550 offers a strong performance, able to scan 35mm slides, negatives, and film, with digital ICE technology automatically removing any dust or scratches, and Easy Photo Fix helping restore the look of faded images. Multiple photos can be scanned at once thanks to auto-edge detection that will crop and individually save each file. Expect dynamic, high-quality images with 6400 dpi optical resolution that supports enlargements up to 17 x 22 inches.
Looking for something that can print documents? Check out our roundup of the best all-in-one printers.
Best Budget: Canon CanoScan LiDE220
At just under $100 at Amazon, Canon’s CanoScan LiDE220 Photo and Document Scanner is affordable. It scans your documents and photos and sends them automatically to your cloud-based services, such as Evernote and Dropbox. An Auto Scan Mode feature detects the sizing and adjusts settings automatically while scanning, saving you time from having to setup each scan manually.
The CanoScan LiDE220's maximum dpi is 4800 x 4800 with a 48-bit color depth with over 281 trillion possible colors. That's relatively high, but high-end photo scanners, such as Epson's $1,000 Perfection V850 Pro Photo Scanner, can go much higher, as high as 6,400dpi and beyond. Its impressive speed allows a letter-sized document to be scanned in 10 seconds. Accessible buttons on the device make for quick activation for scans, copies, exporting to cloud services or saving as a PDF on your computer’s hard drive.
Used Large Format Scanners
It’s compatible with both Windows and Mac operating systems and it comes with a one-year warranty, as well as one-year of toll-free technical phone support.
You may also like to read the reviews for our picks of the best photo, business, and laser printers for under $100.
Best for Film: Epson's Perfection V370 Photo Scanner
There are many things to consider when buying a scanner for digitizing 35mm film and slides. You can buy a dedicated film and slide scanner or a high-resolution photo scanner with the ability to also scan film and slides, typically with some kind of adapter for use with a flatbed platen. Oh yes, and we should add there's also the inexpensive and the high-end.
We've chosen the Perfection V370 because not only can you use the bundled adapters to scan film or slides, but you can also scan any regular photo up to 13 x 19 inches, as well as documents, as long as you don't mind scanning them one page at a time, without the aid of an automatic document feeder.
Best for Mobility: Visioneer RoadWarrior 4D Duplex Mobile Color Scanner
The Visioneer RoadWarrior 4D Duplex Mobile Color Scanner is 11.5 inches long, 2.6 inches wide, 1.6 inches tall, and it weighs a slight 1.1 pounds. Compared to most laptops most of us carry around with us, it's quite small and light.
It's smart enough to recognize what you're scanning and capable of capturing color, grayscale and monochrome scans. A OneTouch software feature can send the scanned document in various formats to multiple locations, such as your hard drive, an email, the cloud. If the page is double-sided, the single-pass scanner scans both sides simultaneously. At the press of a button, the scanner will take your data and format it into a searchable PDF file.
Scanned documents are set to your choice of cloud-based storage applications like Evernote, SugarSync, Google Docs, Salesforce Chatter and Dropbox, among others. It also comes with some of the best OCR and document management software from Nuance, including Nuance OmniPage Pro and Nuance PaperPort, respectively.
Best for Business Cards: Ambir DP667 Card Scanner
Lightweight and easy to transport, the Ambir DP667 is a business’ new best friend. The size of a stapler, it can efficiently scan documents ranging from business cards to those measuring up to 4 x 10 inches — all at 600 dpi. It can accommodate other items including driver’s licenses, embossed cards, photos, and insurance cards, and it can convert receipts into PDFs, making it an efficient option for professionals ranging from hospital administrators to security experts to service organizations. Fully powered by USB, the scanner does not require additional batteries or an AC power adapter, making it convenient for those working on the go.
Runner-Up, Mobile: IRISCan Book 5 Wi-Fi Mobile Scanner
This tiny scanner is packed with power, allowing you to take care of business on the go. With the IRIScan Book 5 Wi-Fi, you’re able to scan your documents into JPEG, PDF, and multipage PDF formats and send them to your mobile devices or PC. Need to make changes? The IRIScan Book 5 can make text editable. Unlike other mobile scanners, this one is dragged over what you’re scanning, rather than having pages fed through it, making it optimal for copying something from a magazine or book. It comes with a 4GB microSD card and has mini USB ports for charging and transferring data. While the battery only lasts about 100 scans, it can be charged while it’s scanning a document. According to the company, it can scan a black-and-white document in one second, and a color document in two. A 1.5-inch color screen lets you immediately preview your scans, and you can customize your resolution up to from 300 up to 1200 DPI.
Also check out our list of the best photo scanner apps for mobile devices.
How We Tested
Our reviewers spent five hours testing a popular document scanner. We asked them to consider the most important features when using this scanner — from its speed to its footprint — and we've outlined them here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.
What to Look for in a Document and Photo Scanner
Media type - Think about how you plan to use your scanner. Some are great at scanning photos, while others excel at creating pristine copies of letters and other documents. Higher-end units include adjustable sliders or even separate bays to handle more difficult documents like laminated identification cards.
Scan speed - If you scan a lot of documents — or if you have boxes of old photos you need to digitize — then scan speed is a huge concern. Look at how many pages a scanner can handle per minute, but also keep in mind that scanners with automatic document feeders help speed up the process and free you from the necessity of manually placing each item in the scanner.
Cloud support - Some document and photo scanners are capable of scanning and uploading directly to the cloud. If you want easy access to your scanned files, look for a scanner that supports Google Drive, Dropbox, or whatever cloud service you use.
Test Results: Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 Document Scanner (Most Popular)
What We Don't Like
Complex accompanying software
This scanner earned rave reviews from our testers for its fast speed and convenience. “You can scan to your computer and phone wirelessly,” one reviewer noted, “and it comes with useful software to sort your documents.” The only thing our testers didn’t love was the complexity of the accompanying software: “Maybe I just need to spend more time with it to be familiar with the features,” one tester said, “but it can be a bit of a handful.”