Scanner Reviews

Scanners let you turn reams of documents, photos, and transparent material such as slides, negatives, and film into electronic files on your computer. Our editors dig through expert and user reviews to determine which scanner is best overall and identify the top models for specific uses. Picks are based on professional testing from experts and the hands-on experience of owners.
Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II
Best Reviewed
Best scanner
Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II

Experts and owners agree that the Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II is one of the best all-around scanners for the money. This 9,600-dpi flatbed scanner produces sharp, accurate photo scans with excellent color quality, and it can also handle slides and negatives. Scan speeds are fast, and most owners find the scanner easy to set up and use. However, some say the bundled software is rather limited for making adjustments to photos and awkward for organizing and storing them.

Canon CanoScan LiDE 220
Best Reviewed
Cheap flatbed scanner
Canon CanoScan LiDE 220

The Canon CanoScan LiDE 220 offers a lot more functionality than you'd expect from an $80 scanner. It can scan documents and photos at up to 4,800 dpi, and it provides basic options for touching up images, such as color correction and dust removal. It's also lightweight and compact, and its OCR software does a good job of producing searchable documents. Photo-editing options are limited, however, and the scanner can't handle film or negatives.

Epson Perfection V800 Photo
Best Reviewed
Best photo scanner
Epson Perfection V800 Photo

For professional photographers and others who need high-quality photo scanning, experts say the Epson Perfection V800 Photo is the scanner to get. It has two lenses, so it can switch between 4,800 dpi resolution for photographic prints and 6,400 dpi resolution for slides and film. It also works fairly quickly, has a good selection of image-correction features, and supports most film sizes. The biggest downside is the lack of photo-editing software.

Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500
Best Reviewed
Best document scanner
Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500

With excellent performance, solid build quality and a deep feature set, the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 is a beast of a document scanner. This speedy sheet-fed workhorse has a 50-sheet automatic document feeder (ADF), can scan in simplex or duplex mode, and can scan to mobile devices and computers via Wi-Fi. It also offers highly accurate OCR. One downside is the lack of a TWAIN driver, which means you can't initiate scans from within an application.

Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i
Best Reviewed
Best portable scanner
Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i

For scanning documents on the go, reviewers say the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i offers the best combination of speed, accuracy, and portability. This 3-pound scanner fits easily in a carry-on bag, can accommodate up to 20 sheets in its feeder, and is capable of running on USB power alone. Reviewers say its software is very intuitive and offers great OCR capabilities. Users also like its ability to automatically correct crookedness when scanning receipts and business cards.

In this Report:

Flatbed Scanners | Cheap Flatbed Scanners | Photo Scanners | Document Scanners | Portable Scanners | Buying guide | Reviews

Scanner or multifunction printer?

There's a lot to be said for storing important documents, from tax returns to family photos, in digital form. Files stored on a computer rather than in file cabinets and boxes are much easier to search, and they take up a lot less room in the office. Scanners can create digital versions of all kinds of hard-copy material, particularly loose paper documents and photos. Some scanners can also handle slides, negatives, film, and even specialized types of material such as business cards, magazines, and three-dimensional objects.

In recent years, standalone scanners have taken a back seat to multifunction printers (MFPs), also known as all-in-ones. These devices combine the functions of a scanner, printer, copier, and sometimes even a fax machine, in one unit.

According to PCMag.com, the choice between a scanner and an MFP comes down to your personal scanning needs. If all you ever need to scan is letter-sized, single-page documents – with perhaps the occasional longer document or book page thrown in – then an MFP is probably the better choice, and we cover some great alternatives in our report on multifunction printers. However, for those who frequently scan multi-page documents, or need a high-resolution scanner for photos, artwork and, especially, transparencies such as negatives or slides, will find a stand-alone scanner to be a better option.

Types of scanners

Scanners come in many shapes and sizes, and many are designed to serve a specific need. The most common type is a flatbed scanner, in which you place the objects on a flat "scanbed" and close the lid before scanning. This design works for a wide variety of media types: loose documents and photos, bound material such as books and magazines, and even three-dimensional objects, if they're not too bulky. Since you don't have to put anything through a document feeder, flatbed scanners are the best for protecting easily damaged materials, such as stamps or irreplaceable family photos.

However, if you need to archive lots of unbound pages and documents, it gets very time-consuming to constantly lift a flatbed lid and scan one page at a time. For jobs like these, a sheet-fed document scanner is a better option. Sheet-fed scanners come in two types. A manual sheet feeder lets you insert pages one by one, without the extra step of lifting and lowering the lid. This is fine for short documents, but if you need to churn through an entire stack of paper, an automatic document feeder (ADF) gets the job done much quicker. Many sheet-fed scanners also have duplexing capabilities, which means that they can scan both sides of a page that's been fed through once.

Most portable scanners are also sheet-fed. These scanners typically weigh no more than a couple of pounds and are small enough to fit inside a backpack, making them easy to tote around. Unlike document scanners, they can be slow and tedious to use, but they are ideal for scanning in a few paper documents or business cards while on the road.

If image quality is the absolute chief concern, you'll need to shell out significantly more cash for a professional-grade photo scanner. Photo scanners offer higher optical resolution – measured in either pixels per inch (ppi) or dots per inch (dpi) – than typical multipurpose or document scanners. (The two terms are often used interchangeably, but dpi technically refers to the fidelity of an image printed on paper, while ppi is for images displayed on a screen.) Many also include premium features to help improve scan quality, such as automatically editing out dust and scratches. However, unless you're a photographer or graphics professional, a dedicated photo scanner may be overkill.

Finding the best scanners

Scanners range in price from as little as $60 to $1,000 or more. To help you find the best scanner for your needs without breaking the bank, ConsumerSearch digs through expert and user reviews to find the best picks for different uses and users. Scanners are evaluated on the quality of the scans they produce, of course, but also on their speed, ease of use, and overall reliability.

Best Flatbed Scanners

Flatbed scanners are the most common type of desktop scanner. They're also the most versatile and are ideal for multipurpose use. The combination of a scanbed and a top-opening lid can accommodate bulky objects that won't go through a document feeder. Flatbed scanners can handle both documents and photo prints, but you'll have to pay a bit more for one that can scan photographic slides and negatives. As long as your scanning needs are modest, experts say there's no need to spend more than $200 on a general purpose flatbed model.

The best flatbed scanners combine great performance, ease of use, and a wide range of features, along with a useful software package. Overall, the Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II (Est. $170) is the best value we've found in a multipurpose scanner. It's nearly identical to its well-reviewed predecessor, the CanoScan 9000F, in both looks and performance, but reports say that the new Mark II model is a bit faster.

Despite its relatively low price tag, the CanoScan 9000F Mark II can scan photos and artwork at resolutions of up to 4,800 dots per inch (dpi). For film, its maximum resolution is an even more impressive 9,600 dpi. Reviewer Lizz Schumer of TheWirecutter.com describes images produced by the CanoScan as clean and beautiful. She notes that the scanner automatically sharpens images and correct colors, and with a little more work, it's possible to edit out dust, scratches, and "gutter shadows" (the dark areas that appear between pages when scanning a book).

The CanoScan 9000F Mark II is also the fastest printer in TheWirecutter.com's tests. It takes about 5 seconds to scan a black-and-white page at 300 dpi, 11 seconds for a full-color page, and only 6 seconds for a small color photo. The scanner offers the choice of an auto Scan mode, which recognizes, crops, scans, and saves an image with a single click, or advanced mode, which lets users make additional adjustments to brightness and contrast before scanning.

User reviews at Amazon.com and B&H Photo back up Schumer's findings. Owners say the CanoScan 9000F Mark II is easy to set up, delivers clear images with accurate color, and warms up almost instantly. However, not all users are happy with the Canon software package. Some say the ScanGear program, used for adjusting pictures in manual mode, does a poor job of making fine adjustments such as color balance and exposure, and others found the My Image Garden program for organizing and storing photos very awkward to use. Users who were familiar with the original CanoScan 9000F were disappointed that the Mark II version no longer comes bundled with Adobe Photoshop Elements software, a $100 value.

Although the CanoScan 9000F Mark II produces very good images, its didn't have the best image quality in TheWirecutter.com's tests. That honor belongs to the Epson Perfection V550 Photo (Est. $170). This Epson scanner's features are fairly similar to the Canon's; it can scan film, slides, and negatives as well as prints, and it has digital image correction and enhancement (ICE) for editing out dust and scratches. Also, like the Canon, it has an LED bulb for instantaneous warm-up. However, its optical resolution of 6,400 dpi makes it capable of reproducing photo prints even more faithfully. Also, unlike the Canon, the Epson Perfection V550 can upload scans directly to Facebook and other cloud-based services.

Unlike the CanoScan, the V550 doesn't automatically touch up images to make them clearer. This means its images are incredibly accurate, but the downside is that any necessary adjustments have to be made by hand. Moreover, Schumer found the V550 harder to use. The first unit she tried never worked at all, despite hours of fiddling and a call to customer service. Once she got a working replacement, she began to have problems with the software, which she said was "very confusing" and "required a lot of trial and error," even when she followed the instructions in the manual.

Users at Amazon.com have similar complaints. Several say Epson's quality control is poor, noting that they received scanners with dust on the inside of the scanbed. They also note that the digital ICE software works only with transparencies, not with prints, and Epson's technical support is incredibly unhelpful. However, they admit that the scanner's image quality is great, particularly for negatives, and setup is easy. Both the Epson and the Canon are backed by a one-year limited warranty.

Cheap Flatbed Scanners

If all you ever need to scan is text documents and the occasional batch of photos, then you can probably find a scanner that meets your needs without spending a lot. Cheap flatbed scanners, priced at $100 or less, can handle these basic scanning jobs, but they typically can't scan film or negatives. Resolution on budget scanners is often lower than on their pricier cousins, but experts say an optical resolution of 2,400 dots per inch (dpi) is more than adequate for most jobs. Also, these budget-priced scanners sometimes don't come with as complete a bundle of software.

In this price range, the scanner that earns the most recommendations is the Canon CanoScan LiDE 220 (Est. $80).

It can do just about everything the highly rated Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II (Est. $170) can do, with the exception of scanning film and negatives. It produces high-quality photo scans, with a maximum optical resolution of 4,800 dpi. It also provides basic image-enhancement options, such as color correction and dust removal. Reviewers at TheWirecutter.com and PCMag.com say it consistently produces clear, sharp images for all types of materials, although purists may be displeased with its tendency to automatically sharpen photographs. It's also not as fast as the pricier Canon scanner, taking about 10 seconds for a black-and-white page, 14 seconds for a color page, and 20 seconds for a photo.

The LiDE 220 offers you a good range of options for formatting and storing your scans. It can convert documents to searchable PDF and editable text formats, and reviewer Lizz Schumer at TheWirecutter.com says its optical character recognition (OCR) is highly accurate, though it sometimes runs into trouble with unusual or extra-small fonts.The LiDE 220 is also capable of sending scanned documents to the cloud, but you have to install the appropriate software on your computer to do that. Both Schumer and M. David Stone of PCMag.com note that the My Image Garden software that comes with this scanner is extremely limited, with very few options for editing your photos.

The CanoScan LiDE 220 is lightweight (just 3.4 pounds) and fairly compact. One nice feature is that you can store and use it in an upright position, so it takes up less room on your desk. It's powered via USB from a host computer or laptop. Some users like this feature, since it eliminates the need for a power cord, but others dislike having the scanner tethered to their PC. We didn't find enough user feedback on this scanner to evaluate its long-term durability. However, it's covered by a standard one-year warranty.

Another strong performer in this price range is the Epson Perfection V39 (Est. $60). It matches the CanoScan LiDE 220 in terms of optical resolution, and it's roughly on par in terms of speed – slightly slower for black-and-white and color documents, but slightly faster for photos. Like the Canon, it's lightweight, can be used in a vertical position, and requires only a USB cord for power. It also comes with the same limited one-year warranty.

Stone, in his review for PCMag.com, actually prefers the Epson Perfection V39 to the Canon, saying it did slightly better on text recognition. However, Schumer, who tested both machines on both Windows and Mac systems, could not get the OCR to work with a Mac. She also said the Epson's scans "weren't as eye-pleasing" as the Canon's, and she found its unlabeled buttons confusing and "finicky" to use.

Users who reviewed the Epson Perfection V39 at Amazon.com and OfficeDepot.com like its compact size; many users even describe it as "portable," although it's not designed for travel. They also say it's easy to set up and produces good images. However, we found numerous complaints that the scanner isn't very user-friendly. Some users describe the software as finicky, and many Mac users couldn't get it to work at all. Even those who had no problems using the software describe it as limited, offering few options for fine-tuning images.

Best Photo Scanners

While some mainstream flatbed scanners do a great job handling photos, slides or negatives, photographers – or those who require professional image quality – need even greater fidelity. For these users, the best choice is a flatbed scanner designed specifically for scanning photos. Typically found on the high end of the price scale, these scanners offer higher resolutions than most flatbed scanners. Most of them also come with premium features and software, such as image retouching and scratch removal capabilities, to improve scan quality.

Reviewers say the Epson Perfection V800 Photo (Est. $675) is the best choice for professional photographers and advanced amateurs looking for the ultimate in photo, slide and film scanning. This scanner is the successor to the discontinued Epson Perfection V700 Photo, our Best Reviewed photo scanner in the last edition of this report. Like the V700, the V800 has a dual-lens system in which one lens scans at 4,800 dots per inch (dpi) and the other scans up to 6,400 dpi for larger files. Both scanners also have a 4.0 Dmax rating, meaning that they can reproduce gradual changes in shading from white to black and fine shadow detail (details of images in dark areas) better than most scanners.

However, according to M. David Stone of PCMag.com, the V800 is even better than its predecessor. Its image quality is better by a small but noticeable margin, and it also works faster. In Stone's tests, the V800 took 38 seconds to scan a single slide at 2,400 pixels per inch (ppi), 2 minutes and 28 seconds to scan 4 slides at the same resolution, and 1 minute 25 seconds to scan a slide at 6,400 ppi. Film scans take about the same amount of time. Adding the digital ICE feature increases the scan time for a single frame to 2 minutes 51 seconds. One reason the V800 works faster than the V700 is that it now has an LED light source that makes warm-up all but instantaneous.

The Epson Perfection V800 Photo can reproduce both prints and transparencies up to 8 by 10 inches in size. It also offers a variety of scan modes, from fully automatic to fully-controlled by the user. Owners who review the scanner at Amazon.com and B&H Photo appreciate the variety of options and say the scanner and its software are intuitive to use. Stone finds the scanner's SilverFast utility has a bit of a learning curve, but says it offers good control once you overcome that. If the V800 Photo has a downside, it's the fact that its relatively high price tag doesn't get you a bundled photo-editing program.

If you need to make high-quality photo scans but are put off by the V800's high cost, the Epson Perfection V600 Photo (Est. $200) offers a good alternative. It doesn't have the dual-lens system found on the V800, but it can scan at resolutions up to 6,400 by 9,600 dpi. It also offers a good selection of scanning modes, from fully automatic to fully manual, and options for touching up images. There's digital ICE for editing out dust and scratches, color restoration, and a bundled ArcSoft PhotoStudio program for editing images.

Despite these benefits, however, the V600 doesn't fare quite as well in reviews as the V800. Stone, in his review for PCMag.com, says it produces high-quality scans for both prints and film, and it's only slightly slower than the V800. However, its image quality isn't quite a match for the V700, which in turn isn't quite up to the standards of the V800. Also, editors at Imaging Resource found that while the V600 did a great job scanning prints, its results with color negatives were "unreliable."

The V600 has thousands of reviews from owners at Amazon.com, B&H Photo, and OfficeDepot.com. Most of them agree that the scanner is easy to set up and use and produces clear images, with good color and resolution. They also note that its OCR works very well for searchable documents. On the downside, Epson's quality control and customer service comes in for some knocks from users. We also saw warnings that the V600 does not work with the latest version of MacOS and that the digital ICE software can sometimes yield strange results.

Best Document Scanners

If you have lots of loose pages to scan, but you don't need to scan film, photo prints, slides, books, magazines, or other media, a sheet-fed document scanner is the best way to get the job done. Document scanners are designed to process large batches of unbound paper, and to do so quickly. Many come bundled with optical character recognition (OCR) software, which can turn an electronic image into searchable text in a document.

Most document scanners come equipped with an automatic document feeder (ADF), which will automatically load page after page in a stack. Many ADFs on document scanners have a duplexing feature, which enables them to scan one side of a page, flip it, and immediately scan the reverse side. These are less expensive than duplexing document scanners with two scanning components, which can scan both sides simultaneously. High-volume document scanners can cost into the thousands of dollars, but we found some less expensive models that are very suitable for small to mid-size business use.

Experts rave over the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 (Est. $415). This sheet-fed scanner is an excellent value, producing highly detailed scans of text documents at speeds of up to 30 pages per minute (ppm). Experts say turning countless pages into searchable PDF files is quick and painless. The scanner has a top-quality ADF, which can hold up to 50 sheets and scan pages in simplex or duplex mode. It can also scan business cards, post cards, and legal-size sheets, automatically detecting the document size. It has a USB 3.0 port for speedy connection speeds, and you can also scan wirelessly to PCs, Macs, and Android or iOS devices via Wi-Fi. The scanner comes with a copy of Adobe Acrobat Standard, though it's only compatible with Windows computers.

Both professionals and users describe the ScanSnap iX500 as fast and reliable, churning through paper with no jams or misfeeds. They also agree that the OCR software is also highly accurate. Owners find the scanner easy to set up and use, and they say it's remarkably quiet and compact for such a powerhouse. We saw some complaints about quality control from users who say they received scanners that didn't work, failed within a few weeks, or had repeated, unpredictable shutdowns. However, the ScanSnap comes with a one-year manufacturer warranty, which, judging from feedback, doesn't seem to be too much of a hassle to invoke.

One quirk of the ScanSnap iX500 is that, like other Fujitsu scanners, it doesn't have a TWAIN driver. This driver, used with most scanners, allows you to launch the scanning process from within an application, and the scanner "pulls" the scanned document into the program. This Fujitsu scanner, by contrast, uses a "push" system: first you scan the document, and then you open it in the program of your choice. The scanner gives you a menu of recommended programs, and you can add other programs to the menu if you prefer. Although this system appears to work fine for most users, it can add extra steps to the scanning process for those who rely on specific image software.

For users who find the lack of TWAIN support a deal-breaker, reviewers recommend the Canon imageFormula DR-C225 (Est. $400). A top pick at PCMag.com, this Canon scanner is a match for the Fujitsu in speed and accuracy; reviewer Tony Hoffman says it performed one-sided scans at just over 24 ppm and two-sided scans at 48.4 images per minute (ipm). Unlike the Fujitsu, the Canon doesn't offer Wi-Fi connectivity, and Hoffman reports that it's not as good at scanning business cards. However, its OCR is more accurate than the Canon's, and he finds its bundled software to be "more capable" for document management. Not all users agree with this assessment, though; although the scanner gets good overall reviews at Amazon.com, most of the comments we saw focus on the software, which user say is cumbersome and not very intuitive.

If you're looking for a document scanner with even more speed and power, it might be worth ramping up to the Epson WorkForce DS-860 (Est. $800). It's nearly twice as expensive as the Canon and Fujitsu scaners, but it's more than twice as fast; in tests at PCMag.com, it achieves speeds of 73 ppm for simplex pages and 146 ipm in duplex mode. Professional reviewers and users also gives the scanner high marks for its text recognition and document management. However, they also complain that the software package is skimpy; the only bundled application is an OCR program, and only the "lite" version at that.

Best Portable Scanners

Document scanners, with their automatic document feeders (ADFs) and workhorse builds, are great for offices where they can sit in one place and churn through paper, but they're far too clunky to even consider taking them on the road. Sometimes you need to be able to scan documents while on the go, and that's where portable sheet-fed scanners come in. These lightweight scanners are small enough to tuck into a backpack or laptop case. Most are USB-powered, so you won't need to lug around an extra power brick everywhere you go. Typically they require users to feed one sheet through at a time, and their scan quality and capabilities are limited compared to their full-featured desktop brethren.

In this category, we found the most recommendations for the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i (Est. $270). It's a little on the large side for a portable scanner, weighing just over 3 pounds and measuring about 11 by 4 by 3 inches. It has an automatic sheet feeder (officially rated at a 10-sheet capacity, but reviewer Amadou Diallo at The Wirecutter says it can actually handle up to 20 sheets without jamming) that can make duplex scans. It can be powered directly off AC or via a USB connection to your computer, though you need to use two USB cables to give it all the juice it needs.

Its comprehensive ScanSnap software suite is compatible with both Macs and PCs. This software, according to Diallo, is the ScanSnap S1300i's greatest strength. It comes with special applications for reading receipts and business cards, and it can export scanned information to a variety of file formats, including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and iPhoto. In Diallo's tests, the optical character recognition (OCR) is outstandingly accurate, reproducing 99 percent of all words correctly. Diallo also describes the software as logical and intuitive to use without having to consult the user's manual. On the down side, the S1300i, like other Fujitsu scanners, doesn't come with TWAIN or ICA drivers, so you can't initiate a scan from within an application. However, Diallo thinks the ScanSnap suite is good enough that this is a small loss.

The S1300i's chief weakness is speed. Although it's not the slowest portable scanner in TheWirecutter.com's tests, it isn't the fastest either. It takes just over 2 minutes to scan 20 sheets in duplex mode at 200 dpi, giving it an overall rate of 9.4 pages per minute (ppm). At its maximum resolution of 600 dpi, the rate drops to 1.5 ppm. The thousands of owners who review the scanner at Amazon.com and OfficeDepot.com agree that it's fairly slow, but they love its accuracy. Users rave that it can scan any document, including receipts and business cards, and it automatically corrects documents that are put in crooked. They also say it seldom jams, but if it does, it's easy to clear.

If the Fujitsu's slow speed is a deal-breaker for you, consider the Canon imageFormula P-215II Scan-tini (Est. $250). It's the fastest portable scanner in TheWirecutter.com's tests, with a rate of 16 ppm at 200 dpi and 4.5 ppm at 600 dpi – faster than even some desktop models. It's also lighter than the Fujitsu, at 2.2 lbs., and slightly more compact. Another plus is that, unlike the ScanSnap S1300i, it can run at full speed off USB power alone. However, it can't match the S1300i's accuracy when it comes to OCR. In According to TheWirecutter.com, it captured only 96 percent of all words correctly compared to the Fujitsu's 99 percent – a small but significant difference.

Another problem with the P-215II is its software. Diallo notes that the Canon software suite is available only on CD-ROM, which makes it impossible to install on newer Macs that don't have an optical drive. This means you're stuck with third-party software that doesn't perform as well. And even those Mac users at Amazon.com who were able to install the software say it didn't work with MacOS 10.10 (Yosemite). Many of them also find the document management program, Nuance PaperPort, to be awkward. However, users do like the P-215II's small size, fast speed, duplexing ability, and plug-and-play setup.

What the best scanner has

  • Jam-free operation. For document scanning, the best scanners have a high-capacity feed tray allows you to set up a stack of pages and go. Once they get started on a stack, they should be able to finish without jamming, sticking, or pulling paper in crooked.
  • High scanning and processing speed. Especially for document scanners, you want pages to go through as quickly as possible while still producing good results. However, calculating the page-per-minute (ppm) rate can be tricky, as higher-resolution scans take more time. So when you look at scanners, make sure the ppm rates you're comparing are for the same type of document and resolution – for instance, a single four-color page at 300 ppi.
  • High-end software packages. Software can add a lot to the value of a scanner. For instance, Adobe Photoshop Elements, which is included on several models in our report, costs about $100 to buy separately. If you want to convert scanned text into an editable document, you also need optical character recognition (OCR) software, which is included with many document scanners.
  • A good warranty. A one-year warranty – the standard for better-quality scanners in our report –should be your minimum bar for a new scanner.

Know before you go

What do you need to scan? What type of scanner you need largely depends on what, as well as how often, you'll need to scan. Flatbed scanners are the most practical for multipurpose use. They're generally more versatile and cheaper than scanners geared toward a specific function. They're a safe bet if you'll be scanning delicate material such as photos, film or slides, and they're essential for handling 3D objects or bound material like books and magazines. Those who need to create digital copies of lots of loose pages and documents should consider a sheet-fed scanner, which are designed specifically for this task. High-end photo scanners are relatively expensive, but they're the best for high-resolution scans of images. They're also ideal for scanning film, slides, or negatives, although some basic flatbed scanners can handle these materials also. If you need to scan unusually shaped items, such as business cards or three-dimensional objects, look for a scanner specifically designed to handle these tasks.

What resolution do you need? If you're scanning plain-text documents or documents with business graphics, resolution isn't a huge concern – experts say 200 dpi is adequate, and 300 dpi is plenty. New scanners typically have resolutions of least 600 dpi, which is sufficient for images, as long you don't enlarge them too much or zoom in too far. For the finest detail or printing scans at a larger size, you'll need a scanner with a higher resolution – at least 4,800 dpi. Editors at PCMag.com note that you should take claimed resolutions with a grain of salt, as these specs are often inflated or are bottlenecked by the scanner's optical hardware. However, as a rule of thumb, the higher a scanner's claimed resolution, the higher its real-world resolution is likely to be.

What about color depth? Color depth is a measurement of how many variations of colors the scanner can see. It's generally not important on document scanners, but it is very important for scanning photos and drawings. Photo scanners typically have 48-bit color depth.

Do you scan in bulk? If you plan to churn through huge stacks of paper on a regular basis, an automatic document feeder (ADF) is a must. Look for an ADF with a capacity greater than or equal to the number of pages you typically need to scan at a go. If you have to scan a longer document once in a while, you can always add more pages partway through the process.

How big are your documents? The larger the scanning area, the larger the document or photo you can reproduce (and the larger number of smaller images you can scan at a time). Most flatbed scanners can only accommodate letter-size documents, so if you need to scan legal-size pages or large pieces of artwork, look for a larger scanbed.

Do you need duplex scanning? There are several ways to scan two-sided documents. True duplexing scanners have two scanning elements, so they can scan both sides of a page at once. Other scanners have an ADF with duplexing capabilities; it scans one side of the page, flips it, and scans the other. Duplexing scanners are faster, but they're also more expensive. If cost is a concern, a cheaper alternative is a basic scanner with a manual duplexing feature in its driver. This is a good choice if you only need to scan two-sided documents once in a while.

What operating system are you using? Pretty much any scanner works with recent versions of Windows, but if you're using a Mac or Linux system, double-check to make sure the scanner is compatible with it. We saw many complaints from Mac users who bought scanners only to discover that they weren't compatible with the latest version of the Mac OS – or, in other cases, with older versions.

Scanner Reviews - Our Sources

  1. TheWirecutter.com - The Best Portable Document Scanner, Amadou Diallo, July 27, 2015

    Amadou Diallo, an experienced technology writer and reviewer, spent more than 70 hours researching and testing portable document printers. Starting with 98 models, he narrowed the list down to just three that were Mac- and PC-compatible, included an ADF, and were light enough to move regularly from room to room. He tested these for text accuracy, speed, and ease of use, running through dozens of documents of all types and sizes, before naming a winner.

  2. TheWirecutter.com - The Best Cheap Scanner, Lizz Schumer, Oct. 19, 2015

    For this review, Lizz Schumer consulted professional and user reviews to identify the 20 most recommended scanners. She then selected the four with the strongest reviews and subjected them to 18 hours of hands-on testing to evaluate speed, image quality, and ease of use. Each machine scanned a variety of documents, including text and images, film, print, and a finger painting by a 3-year-old. 

  3. PCMag.com - Scanners, Editors of PCMag.com, As of February 2016

    PCMag.com is the most prolific and consistent reviewer of scanners. Product roundup articles are thorough, informative and frequently updated. Scanners are rated on a 5-point scale, and the best earn editors' choice nods. Most models receive a detailed single-page report based on thorough, hands-on testing for both hardware and software. Reviewers scan documents, business cards, photos, slides, and film, test each scanner's OCR capability, and also evaluate speed and ease of use.

  4. Macworld - Document Scanner Showdown: NeatDesk Versus ScanSnap iX500, Ted Landau , Jan. 21, 2013

    Reviewer Ted Landau pits the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX500 against the Neat NeatDesk for Mac for the title of best document scanner. Specs are similar – both scanners can scan up to 600 dpi resolution, with similar features and speed – but Landau names the iX500 as the winner based on hardware, software and features. The iX500 earns a strong recommendation for a desktop scanner, with 4.5 "mice" out of 5.

  5. Amazon.com - Scanners, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2016

    Amazon.com carries thousands of scanners, including sheet-fed, flatbeds, film scanners, and specialized professional scanners. The best-rated scanners here receive hundreds of reviews, and sometimes thousands, with overall scores of at least 4.5 stars out of 5. Owner feedback here is particularly useful for gauging a model's long-term durability and reliability.

  6. B&H Photo - Scanners, Contributors to B&H Photo, As of February 2016

    B&H Photo is another good source for user reviews. Scanners are divided into three categories that must be searched separately, but within each section, it's easy to sort the reviews to see which scanners have the most ratings. Flatbed and document scanners have the most reviews, with several models getting 4.5-star -ratings from 50 owners or more. The site also provides a helpful summary of the most commonly cited pros and cons for each scanner.

  7. Newegg.com - Scanners, Contributors to Newegg.com, As of February 2016

    Electronics retailer Newegg.com doesn't get nearly as much user traffic as Amazon.com. The top-rated scanners here have between 25 and 75 reviews, with overall ratings of 4 stars out of 5. However, reviews here are generally easier to read than Amazon reviews, with a list of pros and cons as well as "other thoughts." You can also see at a glance which users actually own the product they're reviewing.

  8. OfficeDepot.com - Scanners, Contributors to Office Depot, As of February 2016

    Hundreds of scanners are sold through OfficeDepot.com, but only a few dozen have more than a handful of reviews. We found the best ratings for Epson and Fujitsu scanners, with several models receiving ratings of 4.5 stars or better from hundreds of owners. Individual reviews are fairly brief.

  9. Laptop Magazine - Shootout: Best Portable Scanners, Daniel P. Howley, Feb. 29, 2012

    The most recent scanner review at Latptop magazine is this roundup of five portable scanners from 2012. Each scanner gets a one-paragraph write-up summarizing its pros and cons, plus a link to a full report that evaluates design, setup, ease of use, and performance in detail. A handy chart compares how well each scanner handles black-and-white documents, color photos, and business cards.

  10. Imaging-Resource.com - Scanner Reviews, Editors of Imaging-Resource.com, As of February 2016

    Imaging-Resource.com is one of the best online sources for camera reviews, but it hasn't published any scanner reviews since 2009, and only one covered model is still current. That's a pity, as its reviews are among the most detailed and complete we found. Each one covers the scanner's specifications, what's in the box, the setup process, and several "case studies" showing how the scanner handles different photos and documents.

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Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII Color Image Scanner
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $176.99 $164.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Epson Perfection V550 Color Photo, Image, Film, Negative & Document Scanner with 6400 dpi (B11B210201)
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from Amazon.com
New: $157.14   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Canon CanoScan LiDE220 Photo and Document Scanner
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from Amazon.com
New: $74.70   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Epson Perfection V39 photo Scanner
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from Amazon.com
New: $79.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Epson Perfection V800 Photo scanner
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from Amazon.com
New: $640.95   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Epson Perfection V600 Color Photo, Image, Film, Negative & Document Scanner - Corded
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from Amazon.com
New: $199.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Fujitsu PA03656-B005 Image Scanner ScanSnap iX500
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from Amazon.com
New: $479.99 $237.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Canon imageFormula DR-C225 Document Scanner
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $376.99 $375.99   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Fujitsu ScanSnap S1300i Mobile Document Scanner
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $295.00 $119.00   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  
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Canon P-215II Document Scanner
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $299.00 $220.97   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review: