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How to Pick the Best Commercial Scanner

What should you look for in a commercial scanner? Not all scanners are created equal. In this article, we walk you through some key considerations and recommendations for getting the most out of your scanner.

Article Summary:

  • Required Feature: Automatic Sheet Feeder
  • Duplex Scanning
  • Scanner Resolution (DPI)
  • Scanning in Color, Grayscale, and Black and White
  • Commercial Scanner Connectivity
  • Jump to our recommendation »

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Required Feature: Automatic Sheet Feeder

The hallmark of any scanner is speed – the ability to move documents from paper to a digital format as rapidly as possible. Early scanners functioned much like early photocopiers: they had a glass bed that could only scan one sheet at a time. It fell on the user to manually scan each individual page then assemble them into a document.

Then came the automatic sheet feeder. Sheet feeders take all of the manual work out of scanning. Instead of the scanner dragging a bulb past the page, the sheet feeder pulls the page past the bulb. Add to this the speed of modern processors and you get scanners that are capable of scanning 60 pages per minute or more. The current generation of commercial document scanners can handle daily volumes that make the vision of a paperless office a reality.

Duplex Scanning

Any scanner worth considering should be able to scan in duplex, or double-sided. Though not all documents are printed in double-sided format, you will encounter enough double-sided documents that a non-duplex scanner will severely affect your scanning speed. To try to scan a double-sided document with a non-duplex scanner means manually feeding the document through twice the trying to stitch the two documents together. It is far simpler to let the scanner do the work for you by scanning both sides simultaneously.

Once upon a time, duplex scans were much slower. Today, however, the best-selling commercial scanners come with their own built-in graphics processing cards. This enables them to scan both sides of a page without any slow-down.

Scanner Resolution (DPI)

Since the beginning, scanners have been measured by their resolution, or the crispness of the image. Early scanners produced fairly grainy images. Additionally, early scanners slowed to a crawl if you tried to scan at the highest resolutions.

Commercial scanners now scan at resolutions that surpass the resolution of laser printers. For document scanning, however, ultra-high resolution isn't required. You simply need enough resolution to match the printed resolution of the document, which is often no more than 300-600 DPI ("Dots Per Inch"). At 600 DPI, a scan produces fine enough dots that the typical eye human can't discern them, especially when printed. An additional advantage of keeping your commercial document scanner down to 300-600 DPI is storage space. The higher the resolution you scan at, the larger the files will be.

Scanning in Color, Grayscale, and Black and White

Nearly any scanner today supports three color modes: black and white, grayscale, and color.

Black and white scans produce the smallest file sizes, making black and white the ideal choice for archiving documents.

Next come grayscale scans. A typical commercial document scanner is capable of producing up to 256 shades of gray. Grayscale is an excellent choice where the original document was in color but you don't want to give up the storage space necessary to archive full color scans.

Finally, scanners today can scan in 24-bit color. Putting it in different terms, a typical scanner can recognize 16,777,216 distinct colors.

Full color scanning is the obvious choice when scanning photos. The cost of color scans comes in file size. A color scan requires 24 times more storage space than a black-and-white scan.

Commercial Scanner Connectivity

The major consideration when choosing the best scanner for your needs is connectivity. Many commercial scanners are stand-alone units that connect to the network. These scanners save scans directly into a network folder. They don't connect to a computer.

Stand-alone network scanners are a good option in large offices where many users share the scanner. But perhaps a better option when you have a few users with high scanning requirements is a commercial desktop scanner. Desktop scanners connect directly to a user's machine and allow them to do all of their own scanning.

Desktop commercial scanners require scanning software. Unlike network scanners which save scans directly into a network folder, desktop scanners can scan into software that allows the user to edit the scan, perform text recognition to make the scan searchable, and organize the scan into the office repositories.

It's with desktop commercial scanners that the need for the right scanning software becomes apparent very quickly. Software for commercial scanners needs to take full advantage of the scanner's speed and efficiency and not become a bottleneck in the scanning process.

Our Recommendation for the Best Software to Use with a Commercial Scanner

FileCenter is the ideal companion software for desktop commercial scanners. Featuring possibly the most steamlined scanning workflow in the business, FileCenter works hard to remove every speed bump in the scanning process. With features like scanning directly into your archives, automatic document separation and routing, file naming rules, and built-in optical character recognition, FileCenter is to scanning software what a commercial machine is to scanners: the very best of breed. Download a free trial today!

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