While we live in the digital age, we still need to have physical documents from time to time. We often have to digitise these documents for modification, e-mail or simply to store them. Having a good scanner at home or in your office will help you do just that.

It is important that you know exactly how you’ll use your scanner if you want to get the best value for money possible. In other words, you need to know what material you plan on scanning and how often. Do you need to digitise generic documents or photos? Either way, we’ve got you covered: keep reading and you’ll learn all there is to know about the very best scanners on the Australian market right now.

Key Facts

  • The most important thing you need to do is decide which type of scanner will best suit your use. There are three main types out there: flatbed, automatic and portable. You can also find multifunction printers, which allow you to print, scan, photocopy and even fax. Knowing the characteristics of each model will help you make the right decision.
  • Another key factor in your final choice is how exactly you’ll use the scanner. If you plan on scanning large volumes of documents, you are advised to opt for an automatic model. On the other hand, a flatbed scanner is all you’ll need if your use will be more sporadic. The material you want to digitise should also be taken into account.
  • The resolution won’t be as important to you if you have to scan generic documents such as invoices or contracts. On the other hand, it will be if you need to digitise photos, for which the quality is fundamental. This is particularly true if you then want to photoshop the images once they are scanned.

Ranking: The best scanners on the Australian market

Having a quality scanner amongst your office appliances is important for you to be efficient in your work. However, not all models are the same. As we mentioned above, the use you’ll make of it will ultimately determine which product you need. To help you in your decision, we’ve selected the very best scanner available on the market right now.

No. 1: MSRM iScan Portable Scanner

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Chinese company MSRM offers quality tech products at very affordable prices, so it’s not a surprise to see their iScan top our ranking. It’s the most affordable scanner of our selection, and its portability makes it a fantastic device with great value for money. Powered via two AA batteries, it can support microSD cards of up to 32 GB so you can scan all your documents on the go.

It can digitise documents in black and white but also in colour, and it offers three levels of resolution: 300, 600 and 900 dpi. This allows you to choose whichever is most suitable based on the importance of the quality of your scanned document. You can also connect this plug-and-play device to your PC or phone. Its compact design means it can fit anywhere, and you’ll never be without a scanner again.

No. 2: Epson Perfection V39 Photo

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Epson is a Japanese company and an international leader in the electronics industry, and the quality of their scanning and printing devices need not be proven anymore. The Perfection V39 is the right balance between affordability and high quality, giving you the freedom to quickly scan documents but also providing excellent resolution for photos.

Indeed, this LED scanner offers a maximum resolution of 4800 dpi, using the Contact Image Sensor (CIS) technology. It is compatible with Mac and Windows systems, and is connected to your computer via USB. However, you can also scan your documents directly to Facebook or your cloud service. A couple of softwares are also included to make your life easier. The maximum size supported by this scanner is A4.

No. 3: Brother DS-620 Mobile Scanner

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Another Japanese multinational, Brother develops top quality solutions for your office. Weighing a mere 500 grams, the DS-620 mobile scanner is an attractive device, combining portability and versatility. It will allow you to scan up to eight pages per minute at a maximum resolution of 600 dpi. It is compatible with Windows and Mac operating systems.

You can naturally scan documents in black and white or in colour, and the high-speed USB cable will take your digitised documents to your computer in no time at all. Its low energy consumption is definitely a plus. Like other models we’ve selected, the DS-620 allows you to scan documents up to A4.

No. 4: Epson Perfection V550 Photo

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Here is another Epson scanner, from the same line of products — Perfection — as the first one featured in our selection. This one, however, offers an even greater maximum resolution, reaching 6800 dpi. This is absolutely incredible, and means that this scanner is very specifically tailored for those who need to digitise documents in very high quality.

You’ll be able to scan all your photos, slides, films and negatives, and the resolution will also allow you to modify them as you like once digitised. Featuring a CCD sensor, Epson’s Perfection V550 can scan documents up to A4 in size. You can connect it to your devices via a USB cable, and your scanned documents can also be directly uploaded to various websites. Compatible with Mac and Windows.

No. 5: EDTara HD Camera Scanner

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Last but not least, this camera scanner by EDTara is definitely innovative in the shape that it adopts. What we like about this model is that the structure is dismountable, which lets you take it everywhere with you. It offers various supported image formats, and lets you turn a document into a PDF, too.

You can even scan objects, and the maximum size supported is A3 — the largest of our selection. The manufacturer claims being able to digitise documents in no more than one second. You can easily connect EDTara’s scanner to your devices via the USB cable. On the downside, this product is not compatible with Mac or Windows 10 devices.

Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about scanners

If you work in an office, you may often have to scan different documents to modify them, or to quickly send them by email. The right model is out there for you, and it all depends on the type of documents you have to digitise. To find this product, you should understand how these devices work exactly. In the following section, we’ve detailed some of their key aspects.

Scanners work by receiving the light reflected by a sensor through a series of mirrors.
(Source: Elnur Amikishiyev: 97181108/ 123rf.com)

What types of scanners are there?

Different types of scanners are available on the market, each one with specific characteristics. The first and most common type is the manual scanner, also called flatbed. It features a lid that you have to lift to place the documents you want to scan on the glass surface. Some models are more flexible and will allow you to digitise books or even objects.

On the other hand, you have scanners with automatic document feeder (ADF). This is the most frequently used type in offices, because you can scan large numbers of documents automatically. However, the image quality tends to be worse than the previous type of scanner. The last type is the portable scanner, which is easy to carry around with you wherever you go.

How do scanners work?

The very first scanners were invented by Taiwan-based multinational Microtek to 1984. These devices work by receiving the light reflected by a sensor through a series of mirrors. The sensor transforms light energy into electrical signals. These signals are transformed into a digital format that the computer can read and that you can then see on your screen.

Scanners are very easy to use. If you have a flatbed scanner, simply place the document under the lid and press a button. Repeat this process with all the documents you need digitised. Automatic scanners are even simpler: all you have to do is leave all the sheets in the tray and wait for them to be scanned. Portable scanners have a slit through which you have to insert your documents.

What does colour depth mean for scanners?

Expressed in bits, this setting indicates the range of nuances that a pixel can adopt. The standard for the best scanners on the market is usually 24 bits. This offers a range of over 16 million possible colours. Anything below 24 bits will result in images of poorer quality.

Greater colour depth will give a more accurate reading of the scanned document. However, do keep in mind that this will slow down the digitising process. It will also create files that are much larger. That being said, it is essential to have more depth if you want to modify the documents later — in particular if they’re photos.

Expressed in bits, colour depth indicates the range of nuances that a pixel can adopt.
(Source: Kirill Kedrinski: 37053003/ 123rf.com)

What type of documents do scanners support?

All the scanners that we’ve talked about so far have one thing in common: they can digitise paper — at least up to the most common size, A4. These devices can scan all types of documents, from invoices to contracts or study notes. Automatic scanners are the most limiting models, as they only allow you to scan this type of material.

Flatbed scanners, on the other hand, are more versatile. You won’t only be able to digitise paper documents, but also other items such as business cards, stamps, recipes or photos.

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Did you know that some of these scanners have very useful special compartments to scan negatives and slides?

How do I connect my scanner?

The vast majority of scanners out there are connected to computers using a USB cable. This is how the scanned document is sent to your PC or laptop. That being said, the trend is now leaning towards models that include Wi-Fi connectivity as a feature. This is particularly convenient, as it allows a greater distance between the computer and the scanner.

If you plan on using your scanner from your tablet or smartphone, then the Wi-Fi feature will be even more valuable. In addition, many offices also have an internal local network with which you can transfer images to different devices. Finally, some scanner models out there include a memory card slot to store your scanned documents.

What is the charge-coupled device of my scanner?

The charge-coupled device (CCD) is a sensor found in certain scanners. It is also used in fields such as photography or even astronomy. This sensor allows us to scan images with less noise or grain and, therefore, of higher quality.

The very first of these sensors was invented in 1969 by two North American scientists. The high sensitivity of charge-coupled devices means they can recognise various light colours. This is essential in order to obtain scanned results as faithful to the original as possible — in particular when you’re dealing with images in which the colour is very important.

All the scanners that we’ve talked about in the article have the ability to digitise paper documents.
(Source: Piotr Adamowicz: 87844671/ 123rf.com)

What are the advantages and disadvantages of the different types of scanners?

As we’ve mentioned earlier, there are three main types of scanners available on the market right now. To further help you make the right decision for your needs, we’ve listed the advantages and inconveniences of automatic scanners:

Advantages
  • Faster than manual scanners
  • They allow you to scan groups of documents
  • They generally support double-sided scanning
Disadvantages
  • Most can only scan in black and white

And here are those of flatbed scanners:

Advantages
  • They have a higher resolution
  • They offer a better colour depth
  • Some models allow you to digitise negatives, slides or films
Disadvantages
  • You have to scan the documents one by one
  • The devices are slower

Shopping Criteria

Our world is ever more digital, and dealing with paper documents can be an issue for some. But you may need to modify them, store them in your computer or send them by e-mail. This is why having a good scanner is essential. In the following section, we discuss some key criteria that will help you choose the scanner that best fits your needs.

  • Resolution
  • Sensor
  • Speed
  • Size of accepted documents
  • Type of user

Resolution

The resolution plays a great part in determining whether a scanner is good or bad. This value is expressed in dots per inch (dpi). The higher the resolution of your device is, the higher the quality of the scanned image will be, and the closer it will be to the original document. However, do remember that a higher resolution also means a larger file size.

Do not mix this parameter up with the size of the document. While they’re naturally are related, these two values are not the same. The resolution specifically refers to the quality of the scanned image. A higher quality also means that you can enlarge the document more without it being pixelated. In addition, a good resolution will allow for a better modification of the digitised document.

Sensor

The scanning technology is actually very similar to that used in photography. Both methods use light to capture an object in an image. This is made possible by the sensor, which receives and interprets the light signal, then converting it into electronic impulses. These signals will finally form a digital image identical to the original.

There are two types of sensors used on the market: the CCD we talked about earlier, and the CIS (contact image sensor). The CIS is the most frequently used because it offers a great balance between manufacturing cost and image quality. However, the CCD is the preferred sensor in professional scanners, in particular in those tailored for photography.

Daniel BellSociologist & Professor at Harvard University

“Technology, like art, is a soaring exercise of the human imagination.”

Speed

In an office environment, speed might just be the key factor that makes you choose one model or another. Note that this speed will also depend on the material you’re digitising. A photograph will generally take longer than a standard text document. As you know, the resolution also influences the overall speed of the process.

Again, the type of scanner you opt for will play a role on the scanning speed. Manual models will have you digitise your documents one by one, therefore taking more time. On the other hand, all you’ll have to do with an automatic scanner is place a group of documents in the tray. The device will then digitise the whole set without you having to do it individually.

Size of accepted documents

As you can imagine, the dimensions of the scanner will determine the size of the documents it can digitise. The most common size is the A4 format, and the vast majority of both manual and automatic scanners are this size. However, you should choose a scanner that meets your personal needs.

In that regard, you shouldn’t have any issue with the most common scanners if you want to digitise documents that are smaller than A4 sheets. What you may have issues with, however, is if you want to scan larger documents. You can always work around this problem by scanning your document in several parts, but you have to know that the results won’t be great.

The good news is that there are models that support larger sizes than classic A4 sheets. The downside is that they are more cumbersome and designed for more specific tasks. These scanner are, for instance, particularly useful in architectural studios where people work with plans. However, A4-size scanners remain the most common for standard offices.

Type of user

There is a suitable scanner for each type of user. For example, you’ll want to opt for an automatic model if you plan on digitising large volumes of documents. This option will save you a lot of time that you’ll be able to invest in other tasks at work. Keep in mind that this type of scanner is more tailored for text documents.

Manual models will be your go-to option if, on the other hand, you won’t need to make extensive use of it. This will also be the case if your work involves scanning photographs, as these models offer a higher quality. Last but not least, a portable scanner will definitely satisfy your every need if you want to have a scanner with you at all times.

Summary

A good scanner is necessary to help you be efficient in your work. This device will be essential, whether you have to make a digital copy of your documents or to send them by email. Make sure you take into account the volume of documents you’ll have to scan; this will help you pick the right model.

As we mentioned earlier, you should also keep in mind factors such as the resolution and quality of the final image. The type of material you want to scan is important to evaluate if you’re aiming to get the most out of your scanner. Don’t forget that different types of sensors are available, so think about which one best suits your needs.

We hope that our guide will help you improve your work environment, be it at home or in your office. If that’s the case, feel free to share our tips on your social media. You can also leave us a comment in the section below!

(Source of featured image: Andriy Popov: 39430637/ 123rf.com)

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