How to Buy a Scanner
Scanner Shopping Tips
Are you ready to buy a scanner? Here are PC World's recommendations to help you find a scanner that's right for you.
For most uses, go flatbed: These common models are easy to use and versatile enough for most tasks.
Handhelds find their niche: A handheld in the $100 to $200 range may work for you if you plan to scan short text passages frequently. Students and lawyers, take note: A handheld scanner will save you money over the long run if you often have to pay to make copies at libraries that don't allow you to remove books from the premises.
Look for at least 2400-dpi optical resolution: Although these models cost a bit more than lower-quality units, they are worth the investment. Scanners with this level of resolution and color depth allow you to make reprints using state-of-the-art photo printers that will be almost indistinguishable from reprints made by photo outlets. Even if you don't need these capabilities now, it's better to anticipate growing needs rather than having to buy another new scanner when you need better resolution.
Check your PC's USB port: Almost all scanners can connect to a PC through a USB port. If you have a computer that is more than a few years old, it likely has a USB 1.1 port. Current scanner models have USB 2.0 connectivity, which provides faster transfer speeds. To use a USB 2.0 scanner at its optimum transfer speed, you'll either have to buy a new PC that has USB 2.0 ports or install a USB 2.0 card in your PC. Bottom line: If you scan a lot of large, high-resolution images, a fast interface can save you a lot of time.
One-touch buttons are a plus: Find a model that has preprogrammed buttons for photo scanning, e-mailing, and other common tasks. One-touch buttons can save you time and effort if you scan a lot of items.
Advanced options get big jobs done: For business users and others who do high-volume or specialty scanning, advanced options such as automatic document feeders, transparency adapters, and a scan bed large enough for legal-size documents can make all the difference. Legal-size scan beds are also a huge plus for scanning large illustrations, diagrams, paintings, and labels (on product boxes, for instance), as well as tabloid-size pages.