For first time buyers, knowing that you need a scanner is one thing. Finding the best affordable scanner for your specific need is a different thing. So in this scanner buying guide, we’ll help you to think through and understand the most important factors before clicking that buy button.
Even though the intention is not to bore you with a long bland list of portable scanner reviews, sparing a minute or two on this page will definitely prove helpful for you.
Practically, you don’t have to be moving from one page to another in order to understand the key factors that will make your purchase decision easier. Based on this fact, you are very much likely to save some time in your research process. Why does these things matter you may ask?
Well, here is one fact.
For people that have multiple or peculiar use cases in mind, it is always obvious that not all types of scanners will fulfill their specific needs.
If you have never bought one before, it is easy to assume that all scanners do is just capture images from paper. While this is true to an extent, the way they do the capturing (operating process), the quality in which they do so and amount of human effort required often varies in most cases.
These variations often have more to do with exact type of scanner in question.
In other words, all scanners are never the same or equal as the case may be. Because of this, there is always a possibility of buying the wrong one which will not give you the desired value for your money.
But that is if you are not informed enough as first time buyer.
Sure you won’t like to waste a dollar at all or realize later that you should have gone for model Y instead of model X; even in the same category.
Types of Scanners
Depending on how you look at it, there are many different types of scanners you can find in the marketplace today. And as technology advancement continue to unfold every day, inventive people and companies keep bringing more to the market. If you do a search for ‘’best scanner reviews’’, there is a great chance you’ll get overwhelmed with all the interesting options within your reach.
However, finding the best one to buy will be determined by match between what a particular type of scanner is built for and your current needs.
As you read along through this scanner buying guide, take note of the options available options that fall within the use cases you have in mind. And there will also be brief pointers on the price range. Doing this will definitely help you to find an affordable scanner within your current budget.
Business Card Scanners
Probably, you are not aware of this one before visiting this page today. But if you already know how business card scanners work, you are in line already. However, some may still ask – what is business card scanner?
Well, just as the name suggests, these are small compact designed and portable machines specifically used for scanning business cards. While some may argue about the value of printed business cards in today’s modern business world, people still exchange a lot of these cards during business and professional networking events. The idea here is that putting your cards in a digital format will make them last longer than being in printed formats.
This explains why different brands are manufacturing and selling tens of thousands of these cards in each passing year.
Another interesting benefit is that it helps to organize your contact searchable archive that provides instant access whenever you need them. Now compare this with having a stack of printed cards somewhere in your home, office or even wallet.
Best Business card Scanners
With this product, you don’t have to lose business card details even before you need them. DYMO V9 is one of the oldest models in this category. In a digital format, you can move your contacts to Mac Adressbook or Microsoft Outlook. You can scan both in color or black and white. For two sided cards, it’s also possible to get full details with clear output. The software included in this makes it easy to drag and drop contact details through email.
One of the impressive features of the PenPower business card scanner is recognition of contact detail in 24 different languages. With this tool, you have the ability to import and export contacts via iPhone, iPod, and Microsoft Entourage. During the archiving process, you’ll have the option of making your contacts searchable by locations, keyword or industry.
Moreover, you may choose to add photo to each contact making it even easier to recognize the appropriate contacts when you want to make use of it. Both this one and the DYMO V9 can be found selling on Amazon at a price slightly below $300.
At this point, it is important to note that there are other types of scanners that can scan business and ID cards as well. In most cases, those ones make use of special driver software. Examples in this category include Xerox DocuMate 3220, Ambir DP667 and Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i.
If you do a little more research, there are even more conventional document scanners that can scan business and ID cards too.
From here you’ll begin to understand what I said earlier about a single scanner used for different purposes as opposed to special purpose models.
Portable Photo Scanners
For old and recent life memories, there are many instances where people feel the need to share the experiences captured at a particular moment in time.
Even though mobile smart-phones do a lot of photography these days, printed photo are still useful both in professional and family circles. And when it’s time share them beyond physical or geographic boundaries, portable photo scanners come into play.
As you are reading through this scanner buying guide, one interesting point that is worth noting is that special purpose scanners often outperforms multifunction models.
When it comes to scanning photo, this is very important to understand. And regardless of the fact that it is still possible to find good multifunction scanners that produce high quality outputs, they are usually more expensive.
So if you have photo scanning top on your list of shopping priorities, here are some of the best portable photo scanners under $200 on Amazon.
Without doubt, there is a reason why it called image, not document scanner. However, when it comes to all things electronics, this brand Canon is one to be trusted. In fact, when you mention the name Canon in some circles, photography technology is what comes to most people’s mind. People who have used Canon digital cameras can attest to this.
The key point is that special or even greater attention was given to high quality photo scanning on this one. From our research findings, this model enjoys high rating among all portable photo scanners.
And it is currently selling below $200 price point. When you find multifunction Canon scanners and do your comparison, you’ll confirm what I mean here.
Among many other interesting features, you can scan and share image files on cloud services like Evernote and Dropbox. This product is also known to push quality outputs in PDF. Mac and Windows users will also find this product compatible. Beside photos, this tool enables you to scan work related graphic draws. Moreover, it is possible to get usable black and white text scans from it.
Still on the types of scanners and under portable photo scanners, this is one the most affordable models that does the job well. As at the time of this writing, this product could be found selling under $50. So if you are looking for where to buy Avision photo scanner, go check it out on Amazon.
Inside the Avision IS15+ is a built in image processing technology that pushes out the output within five seconds or less. Other models in the series include IS25 and 215L which goes for higher prices.
Here you’ll have the options of saving your scanned files in USB flash drive or SD card. It works mainly with rechargeable lithium battery.
Like some other scanners in its category, it is has the proven capability of doing light document scans. From the statements of past users, this is one of the great models that produce great quality in terms of document, card and photo scanning. So you don’t have to buy separate products that do these things if you have the need for all of them. The driver software provided in the package is enough to get you up and running in no time.
If you buy directly from Amazon, you can have it delivered to you within 48 hours or less depending on your location. Up to 79% satisfaction level among past buyers was what we found during research.
What is flatbed scanner?
This is the type of scanner that makes use optical flat surface for scanning objects. In some flatbed scanners, there is always a transparent media adapter that enables the scanning of films and negatives. By taking note of the word ‘some’, it becomes obvious that not all flatbeds come with this feature.
The other interesting feature of high quality flatbeds is the ability to scan more than light documents. With this type you can easily scan books, magazines and cards.
So based on the facts clarified earlier, if you ever want to buy multifunction scanner, think of documents, photos and business cards; it is better to go for the flatbed option.
However, this particular type requires constant human involvement during scans. That means you don’t have to get fully involved in other activities. Hence it takes more time to get what you want as opposed to what is obtainable from others.
Below here are some of the best flatbed scanners that are likely to fall within your budget.
When it comes to portable office electronics like projectors and scanners, Epson is popular brand name that has been in the market for a long time now. Obviously staying longer in business means you must be doing one or few things right every time. And so for this brand, the sales volume and positive rating are just few of the signals we found.
Wherever you see the description of this product, one of the things emphasized prominently is the fact of being a large document scanner. In terms of scanning speed, you can start getting high quality outputs of up 11.7 x 17 inches within five seconds or less. You may choose to scan to Email, SharePoint or Network folders.
Also impressive is the three years warranty you get when you buy Epson workforce ds-50000 a3 flatbed document scanner.
In some sense, this is practical depiction of the confidence that the manufacturer has in this product. Here you have reliable options of connecting through USB 2.0 or wired network.
From the same brand, you can as well find other flatbed scanners like Workforce DS-6500, DS 7500 and DS1660W. Interestingly, most of them can found selling under $500 as at the time of this writing.
Here is another old name that has been in the market for a while. Unlike the other competing large format scanner models, the maximum document size supported is 8.5 x 11.7 inches. So you should take that into consideration assuming flatbed model is the exact one that will fulfill your current needs.
Different from this one there are many other great models from the same brand. One good example is the Xerox DocuMate 3640. However, this and many other scanners from Xerox are usually more expensive than others that are selling below $100.
For compatibility confirmation, Xerox 7600i flatbed scanner has been proven to work well with Windows 7 and Vista.
Right here within our website, doing a simple search for the ‘best flatbed scanner reviews’ will reveal even more affordable options to you. Both in monochrome and color operating modes, the scanning speed experienced with this product is very impressive. The software include in the package are the Nuance OmniPage Professional, Nuance Paperport, Visioneer OneTouch and Visioneer Acuity.
Connection in this one is mainly through USB. Recommended duty scan is about 200 scans per day. One year limited warranty is what you get on this one.
What is sheetfed scanner?
Looking at physical appearance, sheetfed scanners resembles compact inkjet printers. On the other hand, multifunction printers that have scanners in them also looks pretty much the same. In some cases, when you are looking at both of these from a little distance, it becomes really hard to tell the different. Now, what exactly are sheetfed scanners?
With sheetfed scanner, paper documents are automatically drawn from the feeder, passed across the image processor and delivered on the output tray. From here, the reason why ‘automatic document feeder’ is commonly used to describe it becomes obvious.
For those particular interested in high volume scanning functions, this is the best option to go for.
Invoice, receipts, legal documents and other light paper materials are the common type of objects that this scanner is meant for.
Notably, automatic document feeder is the single most important feature people look for in portable business scanners. And the reason is this; it gives you the benefit of loading papers and concentrating on other important tasks while the scanning work goes on.
One thing you should carefully note before buying this type of scanner is the paper feeding capacity which often varies from one model to the other.
With sheetfed type, you are very much likely to find some multifunction scanners that deliver high quality outputs in terms of documents, photos and business cards. But these rare models are often more expensive than others.
Let’s look at some of the top rated sheetfed scanners in the market today.
First let me hint you on what you should know and that is; Ambir ImageScan 820iX comes with 50 sheets feeder capacity. So if you need something bigger and better for high volume scanning needs, this is probably not the best for you. Based on the facts I have clarified earlier, this is one of the few sheetfed scanners that can deliver high quality standard document and card scans.
Probably, this is one of the reasons why the price stands a bit above $300. However the light nature of most documents enables the machine to scan up to 20 pages per minute.
Obviously, this speed factor differs with regard to color and monochrome scan outputs. Maximum document size is 8.5 x 14 inches.
While some other models like Epson Workforce ES 500W comes with wireless scanning capabilities, the ImageScan Pro 820iX doesn’t have that capability. Another great product that is fit for wireless scanning needs is the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i which can be found selling under $300 on Amazon.
One other interesting feature that we found to satisfy the needs to past users is the duplex scanning of different card types. So if you have ID cards, business cards, medical, insurance or other type of cards that are double side, this product will help you do the job perfectly.
The product weighs about 4.19 pounds and is found to fit well as desktop scanner which sets it apart from heavy and bulky sheetfed scanners.
Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i is another model of sheetfed scanner under $300. For that have found some other products from this brand very satisfactory, you are likely to get the same experience here. Beside the issue of affordability, you’ll find many other interesting features that make it suitable for almost all levels of scanning needs.
Similar to this model is Canon ImageFormula P-150 which has automatic document feed and double sided scanning capability just like many others in the same category.
However, the S1300i is a little bit heavier and doesn’t really fit well on desktop for many users. Confirmed weight on this product is about 3.09 pounds and it is sized around 11.2 x 3.9 x 3 inches. With this product, you can scan really long pages more than what is obtainable from standard Epson and Canon sheetfed scanners.
One obvious downside that we found many people complaining about is the limited feeder capacity which is meant to accept only 10 sheets. For this particular reason, people that have existing need for high volume scanning should consider buying those other models that have 50+ feeder capacity.
The software for this product includes Cadiris 4, ScanSnap Organiser 4.1, Card Miner 4.1 and Abbyy Fine Reader.
Connection is mainly via USB and it needs 9 watts power availability to be in full functioning capacity. The Scanning speed varies from 1ppm to 12ppm depending on the preferred color option. For use, we didn’t find this FujitSu sheedfed scanner very much appealing as there are many other models that offer the same thing even at a lower price.
In this scanner buying guide, we’ve been able to identity four different types of scanners. These four includes business card scanners, photo scanners, flatbed scanners and sheetfed scanners. And if you read through completely, you’ll understand how some features overlaps among the unique types mentioned earlier.
With that increased understanding, you should be able to identify the one that will help fulfill your most important current needs. Also within the best scanner reviews under each category, it is now possible to find some good options that are affordable based on your current budget.
Different from the ones mentioned here, there other types of scanners too.
Some examples that come to mind are bar code scanners and film scanners. On Amazon, you can find interesting models like Esky USB Automatic Barcode Scanner and Nikon CoolScan V LS 50 ED film scanner. And then there is a category of all-in-one-printers that come with scanners in them.
From here you can now follow the appropriate links to Amazon which has all the cool scanners under any category that is best suited for your needs.