How to Select a Document Scanner
The top performers in our review are the Brother ImageCenter ADS 2800W, the Gold Award winner; Neat’s NeatConnect, the Silver Award winner; and Fujitsu’s ScanSnap iX500, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a document scanner to meet your office’s needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our document scanner ratings.
Whether you manage a dentist’s practice, run a construction company or are trying to organize your home office, you need to keep copies of insurance cards, canceled checks, tax notices, invoices and other important paperwork. In fact, you may be legally required to keep some of them.
Even though a lot of businesses are moving toward fully digital document-management systems, most still use a combination of electronic data and filing cabinets stuffed with paper. A desktop document scanner can help. It’s a fantastic option for companies and individuals who have had their documents scanned and want to keep ongoing paper storage to a minimum. It’s also a great idea for those who want to maintain an organized and searchable electronic document system. Other document scanning solutions for home and business users include business card scanners and document scanning services. For more information, check out our articles on document scanners.
Document Scanners: What We Evaluated, What We Found
In our review, we focused on document scanners built and optimized for small- to medium-size businesses. While these paper scanners can capably be used in home environments, they have high-end performance and specifications that allow them to operate at page scan rates that few home users will likely hit or need. In our evaluation, we found several factors worth weighing before you buy your document scanner.
Cloud Service Support
Document scanners that scan to the cloud or web-based storage repositories are convenient and add an extra layer of security for your files. Most business-optimized desktop scanners connect to cloud services like Google Drive, Evernote and Dropbox, and there are many advantages to being able to retrieve your documents online. For instance, staffers who aren’t physically in the office can still remotely pull files scanned to the cloud.
Scan Speeds & Specifications
Today’s document scanners have specifications that make them suited to office and business environments. Many automatic document feeders have bays that hold up to 75 sheets of paper at a time, which makes the scanning process far faster than it was with older flatbed scanners. Offices that frequently process large documents or pamphlets will find that a scanner with a high-capacity feeder can improve workflow.
The amount of paper a scanner’s tray can hold is just part of the speed equation. You also want to look at how many pages the machine scans per minute. While scan page rate is also a function of scan quality – scan speed improves on lower quality settings – stock scan rates of around 25 to 30 pages per minute are sufficient if your document scanner will regularly be used by multiple people or a whole department.
Depending on your office environment, your document scanner may have to tackle a variety of materials, including business cards or laminated IDs. In our evaluations, the best document scanners have bays capable of handling these materials without tray jams or inconsistent scan quality. Higher-end scanners often feature separate bays or adjustable sliders to accommodate documents of different sizes.
Document Scanners: What Else Is Important?
A document scanner is more than just an additional office machine. It can change the speed at which you retrieve business information, the space your operation needs and your ability to access information remotely. In our reviews, we compared the features, specifications, connectivity and support services of 10 document scanners.
Image & Scan Quality
Standard scan-quality features like automatic text recognition and scan exporting, as well as post-scanning features like blank-page removal and digital image straightening, are beneficial for business users.
You can also gauge performance based on the recommended daily number of scanned pages the manufacturer lists. Performance varies depending on day-to-day use, and this figure can help determine whether a scanner is a fit for your office. The most durable scanners can scan up to 3,000 pages in a day.
Most business-orientated scanners have stock scan-quality settings of up to 600 dots per inch. While it’s a slight step behind high-quality enterprise scanners built for photos and creative projects, this image fidelity is generally high enough for documents.
Build Quality & Features
Along with scan performance, it’s import to consider a machine’s physical construction and other features. For example, if your office has limited desk space, pay attention to dimensions. Enterprise-level scanners have features like large paper bays and are roughly the size of a standard desktop computer.
Also, many high-end scanners can scan long documents in a single pass. While this feature can be somewhat niche, it’s a good option to consider if you need to frequently scan nontraditional papers like long receipts.
Most scanners can use an internet connection to back up your files to the web, but other connectivity options vary widely from scanner to scanner. Some scanners can sync to your mobile device, and others can operate wirelessly or across a network. Machines with mobile device export can scan documents straight to a smartphone or tablet, as well as store files in a location accessible by the mobile device.
Similarly, networking options like Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity are great for midsized to large businesses. With online connectivity, multiple users can pull data or scans from the document scanner without having to physically connect their computers to the machine.
While the average scanner we reviewed had one or two of these connectivity options, their importance varies depending on how many people use the scanner. In an office where only one person uses the desktop scanner, you likely don’t need many connectivity features, but large businesses and departments may benefit from additional port standards.
Document Scanners: Our Verdict & Recommendations
On the inside and outside, the top document scanners in our review benefit from business- and enterprise-level specifications. With a full suite of connectivity options and equally well-rounded performance, the Brother ImageCenter ADS-2800W has the versatility needed for an office or smaller work group. Similarly, the Neat NeatConnect’s user-friendly design and specifications make it a strong option for small businesses. Finally, the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500’s compact dimensions and steady scan abilities make it a value for businesses.
Other value options include the Kodak ScanMate i1150 and Plustek eScan A150. The Kodak benefits from a deluxe feeder and fast scan speeds, while the Plustek has a variety of ports suitable for any scanning challenge.