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How to pick the best professional scanner

In This Article:

  • Why Buy a Professional Scanner?
  • Form Factor
  • Duplex Scanning
  • Choosing the Right Resolution (DPI)
  • Scanning in Color, Grayscale, and Black and White
  • Professional Scanner Software
  • Jump to our recommendation »

Professional Scanner Overview

You already know that a professional scanner will outperform a budget scanner. Except, not all professional scanners are created equal. What should you look for in a scanner? In this article, we walk you through some key considerations and recommendations for getting the most out of your scanner.

Why Buy a Professional Scanner?

With scanners, the old addage "You get what you pay for" is especially true. A professional scanner doesn't just produce more accurate colors at the sharpest resolutions, it does so page after page after page, without jamming, at the highest speeds available.

When you consider the time wasted re-scanning crooked pages and clearing paper jams on budget scanners, the difference in speed between a cheap scanner and a professional scanner becomes even more pronounced. And when you factor in how much frustration is avoided, it's hard to not reach the conclusion that a better scanner is worth every penny.

So when choosing your scanner, here are a few things to look for:

Form Factor

Scanners have come a long way over the years. The days of the long, clunky, flatbed scanner are long past. Scanners today have a tiny footprint that occupies almost no space on a desktop. This is thanks to the invention of the sheet feeder. Today's scanners load pages vertically from the top. Instead of dragging a slow bulb across the length of the page, like flatbed scanners used to do, these scanners utilize an automatic sheet feeder to pull pages rapidly past the bulb. As a result, your best scanners can scan up to 60 pages per minute or more – a blistering pace.

Duplex Scanning

When you choose a scanner, make sure that it is capable of scanning in duplex, or double-sided. Non-duplex scanners will have a detrimental affect on your scanning speed and your productivity. While not every document is double-sided, you'll run into enough double-sided documents that duplex scanning will make a big difference. Without it, you'll be stuck manually feeding double-sided documents through the scanner twice, then trying to stitch the two documents together. After experiencing that ordeal just once, you'll wish for a scanner that scan scan both sides simultaneously.

Choosing the Right Resolution (DPI)

The measure of a scanner's image quality has always been resolution. In other words, how sharp the image is. These days, professional scanners can scan at resolutions that exceed the human eye's ability to see any graininess. But while you might be tempted to always scan at the scanner's top resolution, this isn't usually in your best interest. You only need enough resolution to match the sharpness or the printed document or to match the resolution of your own laser printer, in case you decide to print the PDF some day. In most cases, this means 300-600 DPI ("Dots Per Inch"). At 600 DPI, you'll find that your scans are incredibly sharp, perhaps more sharp than you need. The price for high resolution scans: large file sizes. In most cases, 300 dpi is more than adequate.

Scanning in Color, Grayscale, and Black and White

Most scanners have three color modes: black and white, grayscale, and color.

A black and white scan is the best choice for archiving documents. It produces the smallest file sizes. And unless you're dealing with color in your scans, black and white provides all of the detail necessary.

Grayscale scans produce a wider range of shading. If you have documents with just occasional splashes of color, like in the header, grayscale can be an excellent choice. Any professional document scanner should give you up to 256 shades of gray.

Finally, a scanner will scan in 24-bit color, or 16,777,216 distinct colors. Color scanning makes sense for color photos, but not for document archival. Why? Because color scans require 24 times more storage space than black and white scans.

Professional Scanner Software

One consideration that many users overlook is that the best scanners benefit the most from professional scanning software. While there are many scanning software packages out there, you need one that takes full advantage of the scanner's speed and capabilities.

Our Software Recommendation for Professional Scanners

FileCenter document scanning software is the ideal companion software for desktop professional scanners. FileCenter works hard to remove every speed bump in the scanning process. With features to speed up every aspect of scanning, like scanning and organizing in one step, automatic document separation and routing, file naming rules, and built-in optical character recognition, FileCenter is to scanning software what a professional machine is to scanners: the very best of breed. Download a free trial today!