Scanners: Ratings of Sources
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.