Flatbed scanners vary greatly in scanning features, accessories and included software. Most are multipurpose scanners, used to scan documents, photo prints and bulky objects like books that won't go through a document feeder. As long as you mainly want to scan items like these, experts say, there's no need to spend more than $200 or so for a flatbed model.
Many flatbed scanners can also be used to scan slides or film negatives, but you'll have to pay significantly more for one that can handle large batches of these transparent materials and produce professional-quality images. The models reviewers frequently put at the top of this category include the Canon CanoScan 9000F (*Est. $150), the Epson Perfection V500 (*Est. $150), and the Epson Perfection V600 (*Est.$180).
Reviewers identify the Canon CanoScan 9000F as the best multipurpose scanner available for a reasonable price. It scans opaque material like documents and prints, but it can also scan photo negatives and slides. The CanoScan 9000F flatbed scanner offers a higher resolution of 9600 dots per inch (dpi) and a somewhat sleeker profile than its predecessor, the 8800F. It includes Adobe Photoshop Elements and ArcSoft PhotoStudio for image editing, Presto PageManager document manager, ScanSoft OmniPage for optical character recognition (OCR), and dust and scratch removal using Canon's proprietary FARE technology. The scanner is PC- and Mac-compatible, and it comes with a USB 2.0 cable.
Nipping at the Canon scanner's heels is the Epson Perfection V500, which is a PCMag.com Editors' Choice. According to reviewer M. David Stone, its "scan quality for both prints and film is in the top tier for relatively inexpensive (sub-$500) flatbed scanners." It can also be used to scan documents and books, and with the optional automatic document feeder (ADF) you can load batches of documents rather than feeding them in one by one. It comes with Adobe Photoshop Elements, ABBYY FineReader Sprint Plus OCR, Epson Scan with Epson Easy Photo Fix Technology and Digital ICE technology for removing scratches and dust from film images. Reviewers say this scanner is an excellent choice, and if all you want to scan are negatives and film, it may be a better choice than the top-rated Canon 9000F.
The Epson Perfection V600 is essentially the same scanner with a couple of extra features: Digital ICE technology for cleaning up both film and prints, and the ability to scan a wider range of medium-format films, including panoramic film. Reviewers note that although it is positioned between Epson's Perfection V500 and V700 Photo scanners, it is more like the V500 than it is the more expensive V700.