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Finding the Right Scanners for Your Needs [Complete Guide]

Technological advancements have indeed made our lives a lot easier. For one thing, we now have the capability to copy paper documents and save the file on a computer with the use of scanners. The ease with which important documents can be archived without being buried under tons of paper is one of the reasons why scanners have now become an integral part of practically anything from home offices to large corporate businesses.


[Image Credit – ShutterStock.com]

In order for you to fully benefit from the advantages of having a scanner, you need to know as much as you can about how this machine works and what the different types of scanner are. This should give you an idea as to what type of scanner can best address your needs.

A Little History

The original idea for a scanning machine was first considered after Giovanni Caselli invented a telephotography machine that can reproduce and transmit drawings, signatures, and handwriting in 1856. In 1913, a new machine, one that can transmit scanned images over telephone lines, was invented. It wasn’t until 1957, however, that the first scanner as we know it today was invented by a team led by Russell Kirsch of the United States National Bureau of Standards. The technology has been developed even more since then.

How It Works

All types of scanners generally work by shining a light directly at the item being scanned. The reflected light is then directed to a photosensitive element via a network of mirrors and lenses. In most types of scanner, the photosensitive element is known as a charged coupled device (CCD). The CCD will then convert the levels of brightness directed onto it into electronic signals. These signals are processed and displayed as digital images.

In lieu of CCD, low-end scanners are equipped with a contact image sensor (CIS), while high-end ones are equipped with a photomultiplier tube (PMT). CIS allows manufacturers to design smaller and lighter scanners whereas PMT allows for the manufacture of scanners that produce images of extremely high quality.

Types of Scanner

As mentioned earlier, the main goal of this article is to help you identify which type of scanner can best address your needs. You’d do well, therefore, to learn about the design and functionality of each type of scanner.

  1. Drum Scanner

This type of scanner tops our list because this was the type of scanner invented by Kirsch and his team back in 1957. Modern drum scanners, however, are already capable of producing high-resolution images, unlike their predecessors. This type of scanner is now used primarily by people in the publishing and graphics business.

  1. Handheld Scanner

From the name itself, this is the most portable of all scanners. While the technology used is basically the same as that of the flatbed scanner, they rely on you moving them instead of having the usual motorized belt. This can be a good option for who need quick, on-the-go scanning capability. Note, however, that the quality of images may not be that good.

  1. Portable Scanner

Although not as portable as the handheld scanner, this is still much smaller than other types of scanners. With a size between that of a handheld and a flatbed, this can be a good choice to bring on a business trip. This type of scanner allows you to scan complete documents, unlike a handheld, which often requires several passes over a single document. Some portable scanner models even allow for the scanning of double-sided pages.

  1. Flatbed Scanner

This is the most common type of scanner these days. Also known as desktop scanners, they are also deemed as the most versatile of all scanners. People use this type of scanner both at home and in the office. Its design is similar to that of a photocopier, allowing you to scan single or multiple pages, as well as such items as flowers and accessories.

  1. Sheet-Fed Scanner

This is also a popular type of scanner and is a bit similar to the flatbed scanner in function. The design, however, is more similar to a portable printer than a photocopier. It allows you to scan multiple pages at once and is therefore ideal for scanning a relatively high volume of documents. The small size also makes it ideal for home use and for small offices.

  1. Business Card Scanner

Considering the fact that this type of scanner is intended for scanning business cards, it is understandably small. It allows you to quickly update your list of contacts. This is ideal for those who need to manage a relatively large contacts list.

  1. Film Scanner

With a regular scanner, you’ll have to use an adapter if you wanted to digitize a library of slides and negatives. With this type of scanner, however, you can scan those slides and negatives directly. Needless to say, this is ideal for those who plan to do a lot of film scanning.

The above discussion should give you a good idea of which type of scanner will be able to address your needs best. Depending on what those needs are, you may even have to buy more than one type of scanner.

Once you’ve decided on the type of scanner, what’s left is for you to decide on the brand of scanner and the features you want your scanner to have. You don’t necessarily have to go for the scanner with the lowest price tag, but for the one that offers the best value for your money.

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