The one best scanner does not exist. For which model is best for you depends on what you want to scan. If you want to regularly digitize multi-page documents, use the document scanner Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500. Photos can be significantly cheaper and high quality with the flatbed scanner Canon Lide 220 scan. If you need a scanner on the go, the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 mobile model is the best choice. And those who want to use both flatbed and document scanners at home or in the office are best served by the all-round model HP Scanjet Pro 2500 f1.
Scanners have long been established in offices and archives usually only work with scans to protect old papers. But scanners are also becoming more and more interesting for home use, since in the meantime you even have to submit the tax return digitally. It makes sense to scan all invoices and receipts and archive them digitally – the notorious shoe box full of documents will finally be a thing of the past.
But not only documents and invoices, but also photos, negatives, slides or pages from a book can be saved as a PDF or JPG on the computer for further processing and archiving.
Most scanners are not content with just creating an image of the template, but also recognize the text and save it as a computer-readable and user-editable version. OCR is the magic abbreviation for “Optical Character Recognition”, ie optical letter recognition. Some scanners do this compute-intensive task directly in the device, while others take over the task from the connected PC.
We have tested a total of 11 scanners of various designs. The price range of the tested devices is very high at 70 to 400 euros. Especially specialized document scanners are very expensive, but you get pure flatbed scanners for little money.
When choosing the right scanner, it is therefore very important for what you want to use the scanner predominantly. Accordingly, we have chosen four test winners.
1. HP Scanjet Pro 2500f1
The HP Scanjet Pro 2500f1 is the best choice for those who need both a flatbed and a document scanner. Thanks to the glass cover and document feeder in the lid, it combines the advantages of both categories. With the buttons on the device, scans can be scanned quickly and without starting the software on the PC. The program that HP delivers is one of the best in the test. It is clear and very clear – unfortunately not a matter of course in this industry.
2. Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500
The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 is the best specialized document scanner. It handles even thick stacks of documents quickly, copes with a wide range of sizes and paper thicknesses, and is very easy to use thanks to the manufacturer’s software. It can even be used with the smartphone via WLAN.
3. Canon Lide 220
The Canon Lide 220 is the best flatbed scanner for digitizing photos and images. He is very inexpensive, but does not look good in the text recognition. That’s why it’s not very suitable for scanning documents.
4. Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100
The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX100 is extremely small and weighs only a few hundred grams. Nevertheless, the mobile scanner scans no worse than the other devices in the test. For anyone who needs a scanner or does not have much space on the go, he is ideally suited – also thanks to WLAN and battery operation.
Flatbed vs. document scanner
For flatbed scanners, place the document face down on a glass overlay and close the lid. The scanning unit then moves the original from top to bottom and captures it through the glass.
Flatbed scanners have the advantage that they usually offer a very high resolution, which is especially important when scanning photos. Also, they offer the ability to scan a book page or other thick templates as well as sometimes even negatives and slides. The disadvantage, however, is that you can only scan one page at a time. If you want to digitize a pile of leaves, you have to put each page individually on the glass, take it out after the scan – that can be quite annoying.
The right scanner for every application
This makes so-called document or indent scanner better. They also process thick paper stacks with up to 50 sheets in one go – usually even on both sides. To do this, they pass the stack sheet by sheet with the help of rollers on the scanning unit. This is quite fast, because the resolution of these models is not particularly high. For text documents that is perfect and even in terms of photo editing, the maximum of 600 dpi (dots per inch; unit for optical resolution) is completely sufficient for most users.
There are also scanners that combine the two categories. For example, the HP Scanjet Pro 2500f1 flatbed scanner has a feeder on the lid that holds up to 50 sheets of paper and scans them one after the other. Who wants to take advantage of both categories, selects such a combination scanner.
Mobile scanners are compact and slim and, thanks to Wi-Fi and integrated rechargeable batteries, sometimes work completely without cables. This is perfect for field workers or other business people who travel a lot but need a scanner. These devices weigh only a few hundred grams and still fit in any notebook bag.
But even those who do not want to have a large device on their desks at home and only scan occasionally are well served with such a compact device. In terms of quality and speed, the little ones can keep up with the big ones. However, here you have to insert each sheet individually into the scan slot, which requires some skill and a steady hand.