A document scanner is a necessary tool in any office or workplace. The handling of physical sheets of paper is reduced and invoices, receipts and contracts can be sent mostly via email. It is necessary to scan printed documents and convert them into a digital format, before attaching them to the email that you are about to send over the internet.

It is also useful to have a document scanner at home, just as much as in the office, as communication via email is so widespread these days. Not only does it help with scanning and sending documents, it allows us to preserve our memories in a digital format. Whether on an electronic device or using cloud-based storage, photographs and other souvenirs can be backed up and saved from being lost.

Key Facts

  • A document scanner is a peripheral computing device that digitises physical paper documents and transfers them to a computer or to another device.
  • Documents scanned and transferred can be stored on a computer or other device, on an online cloud or printed.
  • The scanner can be connected to a computer or other device using a cable (USB) or by using wireless technology such as WiFi or Bluetooth.
  • The format of the scanned documents can be changed depending on its purpose: .pdf, .jpg, .jpeg, .png, etc.

Ranking: The best document scanners on the Australian market

In the following section we will present to you the best models of document scanners available on the market. This way you will be able to compare the technological features with specific characteristics of each model. If you are thinking about buying a document scanner, you will find this guide very useful to make sure you choose the perfect model to suit your needs.

No. 1: Brother ADS1100W

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The compact Brother ADS1100W scanner is perfect if we are looking for something that is not going to take up a huge amount of space, but still offers all the best features. Its size (38 x 17 x 20.7cm) saves a lot of space on your desk or in your office. However, this does not mean that it isn’t a high-quality device capable of double-sided scanning.

It has a super fast USB 2.0 connection and uses Wi-Fi for wireless connectivity. It offers a scanning speed of 24 pages a minute, allowing you to save time when you have large amounts of documents to get through. This scanner is compatible with the latest version of Mac OS X.

No. 2: Flip-Pal Mobile Scanner

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The Flip-Pal mobile scanner enables you to effortlessly collect precious photos, important documents, fragile records of personal and family history, coins, jewellery, medals, hand-drawn art, and other keepsakes. Now they can be safely stored digitally rather than scattered, lost or unable to be found. Then create your story and connect with family and friends.

Unlike alternative solutions that don’t have the combination of mobility, simplicity, accuracy, versatility, and keeping the original safe, the Flip-Pal mobile scanner is compact, simple to operate, has high resolution, quick scan time, battery power, SD memory, and a computer is not required for scanning.

No. 3: ClearClick Photo & Document Scanner

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With the ClearClick Photo & Document Scanner, you can quickly and easily convert your photos and documents into a digital format. The scanner has an automatic feeder, so just load the photos or documents into the scanner, and you’re done. You can see each photo or document immediately after you scan it with the 1.45″ preview screen. The scanner can scan photos and documents in .jpg or .pdf format, up to 1200 dpi.

Transfer your scanned images to your PC or Mac, by using the included cable to plug the scanner into any free USB port on your computer. Your scanner will show up as a new disk that contains your digital photos with no special drivers or software needed.

No. 4: Zoesen iScan

The iScan from Zoesen is an extremely compact, handheld scanner that easily fits into a drawer or your laptop bag. Whether you are at home, in the office or library or enjoying a cup of coffee, this portable scanner scans images or pictures quickly. It stores .jpeg and .pdf files within seconds, allowing you to scan images or pictures quickly. This device is plug and play, no need to install any software before use. 

This model allows the option of three modes of resolution: 300dpi/600dpi/900dpi. It can take an Micro SD card of up to 32GB in size, which is more than enough for your daily use. This product is perfect for anyone wanting to do scanning while they’re out and about, such as businessmen, students, travellers or even amateur archivists.

No. 5: Epson FastFoto

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Here we have the most expensive option on our list but it also comes with the most features. Preserve your priceless memories or documents with the FastFoto FF-680W, the world’s fastest personal photo scanner. Scan thousands of photos as fast as 1 photo per second at 300 dpi. Safe touch technology offers worry-free scanning for virtually any size, including postcards and Polaroid photos. Second generation Epson FastFoto Software makes everything easy, with convenient photo editing and smart file organisation tools.

Offering the ultimate in versatility, the FF-680W features a variety of modes for quick sharing, archiving and enlargements. Additional features include the ability to upload directly to a cloud-based storage system (such as Google Drive) and double-sided scanning.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about document scanners

Before buying a product like a document scanner, you need to learn about all of its features. It’s a good idea to start with the more general functions that are common to all scanners, before moving onto the more specific features of each model available on the market. In this guide we will cover everything you need to know, so that you can choose the document scanner that is right for you.

The digitisation of documents by using a scanner is an essential process these days.
(Source: Elnur Amikishiyev: 97181108/ 123rf.com)

What is a document scanner?

A document scanner is, essentially, a peripheral device which uses light to copy printed images or documents. They are copied into a digital format, either in colour or black and white. A scanner digitises documents and photographs that are in a paper format, transferring them to an electronic format.

How does a document scanner work?

A document scanner operates by using a series of CCD devices that capture reflected light by using mirrors. These signals are then transferred to a digital format through the use of an analog-to-digital converter (ADC). Finally, the computer receives a transmission of the digital version of the scanned image or document.

Why is a document scanner useful?

A document scanner allows analogue documents to be converted into a digital format. Once they are in a digital format, these documents can be edited, stored or printed. The use of this type of device can be helpful either at home or at work. This is why there are models specifically manufactured for use in the office, and others which are better suited for your home. There are multifunction scanners out on the market, if you are looking for a device that can do more than just scan documents. However, these multifunction models are not free from some disadvantages. The main one being size, which will be larger the more functions a particular device offers. This is why we are going to take a look at some of the advantages and disadvantages of having a multifunction document scanner in your home or in the office.

Advantages
  • Scan, print and send
  • Save time at work
  • Streamline administrative tasks
Disadvantages
  • It occupies much more space
  • Has a higher price
  • More technically complex

What kind of budget do I need to buy a document scanner?

Every purchase involves weighing up quality, performance and reliability on the one hand and price on the other. For the purchase price to be justified, you must be sure that the you plan to use the device regularly enough and that it offers the right features you need to improve your workflow.

As we can see in the five models that were featured earlier in this article, there is a big difference in price between the various types of document scanners on the market. The price can range from less than $100 for a basic model, and over $600 for a more advanced or multifunction model.

Every document scanner has different features, although all must be able to perform the basic function.
(Source: Piotr Adamowicz: 88546654/ 123rf.com)

Why is it important to digitise documents with a scanner?

Using a scanner to digitise documents is an indispensable tool in today’s digital age. This is especially true for businesses that work with a large volume of documents. Experts in the field have long agreed that digitisation processes are part of the day to day of both SMEs and large companies.

And even more importantly, if that were not already enough, digitisation and the storing of documents in an electronic format helps the environment, because it reduces the use of paper. Everything about digitising is great! Wouldn’t you agree?

George WestermanPrincipal Research Scientist

“When digital transformation is done right, it’s like a caterpillar turning into a butterfly, but when done wrong, all you have is a really fast caterpillar.”

Are all document scanners the same?

Every scanner has different functions, although all must be able to perform the basic function that characterises them. In addition to being able to simply scan and digitise, they are also capable of allowing the editing or restoring of damaged documents. This is especially useful when we need to digitise old documents or damaged photos.

In what formats can documents be digitised?

In general there are two basic formats that exist for the digitisation of documents. Most document scanners offer the choice of saving in either .pdf or .tiff format. A .pdf is a bitmap that allows you to share files using free software from Adobe that opens these types documents. It is ideal if we want to send a scanned document or image, without altering its contents.

On the other hand, the .tiff archive format can be manipulated and edited at any moment using free editing software. It is an older format than .pdf and there it presents with some problems, such as size. By taking up much more storage space, it is less convenient and user friendly. We can see all the differences between these two formats illustrated in the following table:

Criterion Format .pdf Format .tiff
Space Less space More space
Use Ideal for individual documents Ideal for groups of documents
Compatibility Compatibility guaranteed Compatibility more limited

What operating system is needed for scanning?

Generally speaking, these days almost all document scanners are compatible with both Windows and Mac. However, before purchasing a scanner it is important to double check that it is compatible with your computer. Obviously, a scanner that is not compatible with you computer will be useless. It is especially important when purchasing an older secondhand scanner, to check that it is compatible with the most recent versions of Windows or Mac OS.

Technology lives in a state of constant evolution. This means lots of advantages for users, but at the same time it can be inconvenient. This is why we must be careful not to buy obsolete models that will only last for a short amount of time. A document scanner will not provide us with the features and the service that we are looking for. An investment should always be profitable in the long term.

The price will vary depending on the features. A basic device will cost much more compared to a more complex multifunction model.
(Source: Lightfieldstudios: 80648837/ 123rf.com)

How does OCR work in a document scanner?

Optical Character Recognition, practically speaking, is a process which allows text to be digitised by a scanner. OCR allows the system to recognise characters as part of an alphabet. This is why we are able to modify the scanned document using a text editor.

For example if we scan a book or and article, we can edit it in Word. Therefore, this feature is extremely useful for people who scan these types of documents as part of their job. Not all models of scanners are manufactured with OCR integrated, so it is very important to look for one that offers this feature, if it is something you think you might need.

Shopping Criteria

So that you avoid buying an outdated document scanner that is not going to provide you with the functions you want, it is necessary to learn about the various key features of these devices. Just like with any product, it is important to identify the most relevant features offered by each model. We are now going to look over some of the things you need to consider before buying a document scanner.

  • Functionality
  • Size
  • Resolution
  • Scanning speed
  • Compatibility/Connectivity

Functionality

As we saw in the list of the five best document scanners, there are various different models with distinct features and functions. If we only want a scanner to scan documents and photos, it will be enough to go for a model that only performs this function. However, if we want more features in a single device, we will need to look at a multifunction scanner that can also print and fax documents.

It is now that we need to consider how we intend to use the document scanner. The price will vary based on the functions of a device, whether it is a more simple model or a more complex multifunction scanner. Clearly it is better not to spend the money on a multifunction device if you’re not going to use the features it offers.

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Size

Today scanners are becoming more and more compact, however perhaps you need a device that scans large documents. In this case, not just any scanner will do as most scanners only scan documents up to a maximum A4 size. When comparing models we should keep this in mind, and realise that it will affect the amount of space the scanner will occupy in your home or office.

If you don’t need a device that can scan documents up to A4 size, the variety of choice is enormous and you can choose one of the smaller models that we featured earlier. Even just a few centimetres can free up needed space in our work environment or when we are at home scanning our favourite photos.

Resolution

Just like a camera, the screen of a mobile phone or a television, the resolution and colour range of a scanner will affect the quality of the final image. If you are only going to scan black and white documents (invoices, contracts, delivery notes, etc.),this may not be so important to you. If you want to do much more detailed and colourful scans, it is very important to pay attention to this feature.

To find out whether a scanner has good resolution, you need to check the value of the DPI (Dots Per Inch). The higher the given values, the higher the resolution and, therefore, the visual quality of the digital file after scanning has been completed.

The minimum recommended resolution for photographs is 300 DPI, although for scanning simple back and white documents a resolution of 100 DPI will be sufficient. A lower resolution means smaller file size, saving you storage space.

Scanning Speed

This technical specification of a document scanner is measured in pages per minute. If you regularly need to scan a high volume of documents, you should definitely take this feature into account. Otherwise a slower scanner, or one that does not allow automatic double-sided scanning, might cause lots of delays when trying to get tasks completed.

A speed of 24-25 pages per minute is considered as high, while between 15-20 is considered as average. Scanners that offer less than 15 pages per minute might cost less to buy, however they won’t be much use if you need a large amount of files scanned in a short time.

Compatibility/Connectivity

What is the use of a document scanner that cannot transfer scanned files to a computer? Before choosing a particular model it is vital to ensure that it is compatible with your computer. More recent models will be equipped to work with the latest versions of Windows and Mac OS, but maybe an older model won’t be.

The more options a scanner has for connectivity, the better. A USB connection is required, it should be 2.0 to guarantee a faster transferring speed. If it offers wireless connectivity, it may use Bluetooth, WiFi or both. The both cases, you need to check how quickly the data is sent and received to guarantee instantaneous scanning.

Summary

There is a document scanner for every type of user, depending on their needs, likes and budget. It is important to follow the advice of this guide and compare models before taking the plunge and buying one. Today, the advances in technology allow the purchasing of models with lots of features at a more affordable price than years ago.

Therefore, it is always advisable to have a look at what is on offer or on sale at any given time, to find a document scanner that will guarantee the best possible final result. Sometimes, spending a little more time doing research can save us a lot of money. Do you already know what document scanner you want? Go and get it!

If you enjoyed our guide and our advice about document scanners, be sure to share it with your friends on social media or leave us a comment below.

(Source of the featured image: Loganban: 38387768/ 123rf.com)

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