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Scanner Buying Guide

Types
General Features
Flatbed Features
Sheetfed Features
Film & Slide Features
Glossary


Overview
Sheetfeds are the ideal scanners for the office. Able to bulk scan huge amounts of documents, sheetfed scanners save workers time and money over the long haul. While image quality can suffer, the over all speed benefit more than makes up for it.

Advantages:
Speed Many sheetfed scanners are designed to process documents at very high speeds, in most cases much faster than flatbeds. Speeds between models do vary, though, so make sure you find one that works as fast as you need. High Volume Most sheetfed scanners include an automatic document feeder that processes huge amounts of documents with very little user interaction. This, combined with high speed scanning, makes sheetfed scanners perfect for high-volume workloads.

Small Size Sheetfed scanners are usually quite small, requiring about the equivalent desktop space as a small printer.

Disadvantages:
Image Warping Because sheetfed scanners pull a document across a stationary scanning element, there is the possibility of slight warping and image errors. Thankfully, newer advances in technology have minimized this problem considerably. Lower Resolution Sheetfed scanners feature scanning elements that work at much lower resolutions than flatbeds, making them inappropriate for high-quality graphics processing. With regular document processing, though, the typical resolution is more than sufficient.

Limited Document Width Because of their small size, most sheetfeds are limited in the size of the documents they can process. This especially comes into play regarding a document's width. While most sheetfeds can feed in a document of huge lengths, they are very limited in the actual width. Make sure the scanner you choose supports the largest document size you expect to use.

Things to Look For:

Duplex vs. Simplex
A nice option with sheetfed scanners is the possibility of duplex scanning. Duplex scanning is the ability to automatically scan both the front and back of a document. This can be a huge time saver and help greatly minimize workloads. Unfortunately, when scanning in duplex mode most scanners transform the documents into un-editable images.

A simplex scanner, on the other hand, is one that only scans one side of a document. Keep in mind that all duplex scanners are able to scan in simplex mode, while simplex scanners can only scan one side at a time.

Color vs. Black & White
While the majority of sheetfed scanners are grayscale, a few newer models have color capabilities. Keep in mind that even the best of these can't match the color quality of a sheetfed so properly weigh they importance of color in your scanning needs.
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