Flatbed scanners are the most common type of desktop scanner. They're also the most versatile and are ideal for multipurpose use. Unlike sheet-fed scanners, they have a top-opening lid with a scanbed that can host bulky objects that won't go through a document feeder. While they vary greatly in scanning features, accessories and included software, most can handle both documents and photo prints. Some support transparent material such as slides and negatives, though you'll have to pay a bit more one with these capabilities. As long as your scanning needs are modest, experts say there's no need to spend more than $200 on a flatbed model.
The best flatbed scanners combine great performance, ease of use and a wide range of features, as well as useful software bundled into the package. The Canon CanoScan 9000F Mark II (Est. $160) is the best value we've found in a multipurpose scanner. The CanonScan 9000F Mark II is nearly identical to its well-reviewed predecessor -- simply called the CanoScan 9000F – in both performance and aesthetics. Reports say that the latest Mark II model is a bit faster, however.
According to reviews, the CanonScan 9000F Mark II excels at scanning creative work. Despite its relatively low price tag. It can scan standard reflective documents at resolutions of up to 4,800 dots per inch (dpi), as well as transparent material such as slides, negatives and film at up to 9,600 dpi. Judging from reviews, scan quality is excellent. "We were delighted with the degree in which subtle detail was preserved from our test negatives," writes reviewer Simon Handby at Britain's Expert Reviews. Handby adds that document scans came in "perfect focus." Scan speeds are impressively fast, according to reviews.
The CanonScan 9000F Mark II is fairly easy to use. Handby says the TWAIN interface is "excellent," and is impressed with the degree of control it offers. The LED light source makes startup time a non-issue as well.
The CanoScan 9000F Mark II ships with plastic trays for loading up 35mm slides or negatives, though some owners note these are a bit delicate, and aren't easy to replace. One of the biggest steps backward, however, is the lack of Adobe Photoshop Elements software (Est. $90), which came bundled with the preceding model. And experts and owners agree that the included Canon My Image Garden software is a far cry from professional quality. Users say Canon's proprietary FARE technology for removing dust and scratches works well enough.
The Epson Perfection V600 (Est. $200) is another excellent flatbed scanner, though it is a little pricier. PCMag.com's M. David Stone says the scanner is "firmly in the top-tier" for scan quality for sub-$500 flatbed scanners. It hosts hardware-based Digital ICE technology, which finds and cleans up dust and scratches for both both films and prints, as well as the ability to scan a wide range of medium-format films, including panoramic film. Unlike the CanoScan 9000F Mark II, it includes a copy of Adobe Photoshop Elements. That alone could make the Perfection V600 a good choice for those who would otherwise have to buy professional-grade photo editing software anyway.
If your scanning needs are casual, as well as limited to mostly text documents and the occasional batch of photos, then you might not need to spend a lot to get a scanner that meets your needs. To keep their price down, cheap flatbed scanners might leave out some nice extras, such as bundled software. Resolution on budget scanners is typically lower than on their pricier cousins, though experts say a minimum optical resolution of 2,400 dots per inch (dpi) is more than adequate for most jobs.
In this category, Canon CanoScan LiDE 110 (Est. $50) is an excellent choice. It does have some limitations, however. For one, it can't scan slides or transparencies. With a resolution of 2,400-dpi, It doesn't output the high quality scans of higher-priced models, but performance is competent overall, producing quick copies of office documents as well as good quality images. It is lightweight (just 3.5 pounds) and powered via USB from a host computer or laptop. Though not designed to be a portable scanner some users say that they bring it with them on the road to use with a laptop. We see some complaints about durability, though users to say that the service provided by Canon is excellent. The scanner is covered by a limited one-year warranty.
If you have a bit extra to spend consider the step-up Canon CanoScan LiDE 210 (Est. $70) scanner instead. This flatbed scanner is nearly identical to the CanoScan LiDE 110, though it offers double the maximum resolution -- up to 4,800 dpi. Experts say scan quality is great for its price point, and that the increase in detail is very noticeable. The CanoScan LiDE 210 also offers faster scan speeds and it can be used vertically.
Another solid contender is the Epson Perfection V37 (Est. $75) . Like the CanoScan LiDE 210, it has a maximum resolution of 4,800, and experts say it delivers an impressive degree of detail for its budget price. It's a bit slower than many of its competitors, but performance is competent overall. Unlike the Canon models, the Perfection V37 uses an external power supply, and cabling can get a bit messy. Experts say the included software bundled, which includes OCR software, is solid.