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Scanner Buying Guide

General Features
Flatbed Features
Sheetfed Features
Film & Slide Features

While there are a huge variety of different scanners available on the market today, the three that you are most likely to find are a Flatbed, a Sheetfed, and Film and Slide.

Flatbed Scanners
Flatbeds are easily the most common on the market today. Their basic functionality is similar to a photocopier. Basically, a document is placed on a glass bed and a series of photosensitive cells pass over the object, reading it. The data is then digitized and passed along to the computer as a digital file.

Flatbeds are designed primarily for scanning single flat documents and images. They offer the best compromise between quality and flexibility and are perfect for people who need a scanner for a variety of different uses.

Sheetfed Scanners
The easiest way to think of a sheetfed scanner is as a fax machine that sends documents to your computer. They are designed for processing large amounts of documents at high speeds. Because of this, image quality can suffer occasionally. They are primarily made for scanning in black and white, although there are now quite a few that process color.

Sheetfed scanners are ideal for business environments that need to processes huge amounts of documents in the shortest possible times. They are also best for people who need the final computer file to be editable in a word processing program, like Microsoft Word. People that rely on high quality scans and document accuracy might be better off looking at one of the other types.

Film and Slide Scanners
This is a specialized scanner designed from the ground up to do high quality, detailed scans of photo negatives and slides. They are extremely small and feature very precise scanning elements that capture as much detail as possible of their subject matter.

Unfortunately, their high quality and limited use tend to make them more expensive than a flatbed. These are designed primarily for the graphics professional who demand the absolute best in their image quality.

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