Updated: May 23, 2015

Computer Scanner Reviews:

Computer scanners aren't as popular as they once were since now almost everyone has digital cameras and doesn't need to scan photos over to their computer. That doesn't mean scanners aren't necessary anymore though. Millions of people still have collections of photos taken by regular film cameras that need to be transferred over to computer via a scanner. Businesses also need scanners so they can convert hard copy documents into digital formats for email and website purposes. You may have slides or negatives that need to be scanned onto your computer for other uses. Consumer scanners have come a long way in the last decade and now for $100 or so you can get a quality computer scanner that will do most of what you want. There are scanners that are built into copiers, fax machines and printers which makes for a multipurpose machine. Which scanner is right and what features do you need to consider? Keep reading down below to find out which models are the best and which features you can't live without.
computer scanner


Most home scanners today offer 4800-dpi (dots per inch) resolution which is plenty for the average user. The optical resolution is important when scanning photos onto your computer. The higher the resolution the easier it will be for you to edit the image to your liking. Scanning pictures in at high resolutions like 4800-dpi will take time and hard drive space (more than 50MB per photo). The end result will be 8 X 10 (or larger) photo prints that look great. Even if the old film photos are not in the best of shape scanning software from companies like Epson can help fix some issues. The Epson Easy Photo Fix software is excellent at correcting fading colors in older pictures or those are dusty and scratched. Transparency adapters are another feature to look for if you have slides or film you want scanned. Some scanners have the transparency adapter (TA) built into the lid while others plug into the scanner as a separate piece. The TA uses a light source to capture the film or slides. Some TA's templates for scanning are available in various sizes with the smallest accommodating only 1 slide but the larger ones hold 3 slides or 6-inch long strips of film. If you will need to scan in documents that will be longer than the flatbed surface, consider a scanner with a built in automatic document feeder which will handle longer docs. The color depth on a scanner is another important feature to look into to. You want your scanner to have a minimum of 24-bit external color depth, but 48-bit color depth is ideal. The sensor technology in scanners is either charge-coupled device (older technology) or contact image sensor (new technology). In this case the older technology sensors give you higher-quality scanned images, but they will use more power and be larger machines. What type of scanner do you need - flatbed, sheet-fed scanner, film scanner, handheld scanner, or the all in one multifunction machines that do printing, faxing, scanning and copying. Most consumers go with the flatbed scanners since they are most practical and function pretty much like a copy machine. You place the document or photo you want scanned on the flat surface (glass) under a cover and let the scanner go to work. Software is what communicates between the computer and the scanner to transfer the scanned image or document over to your computer. Scanners will come bundled with their own software which includes image editing software as well. It may not be the best to actually crop and edit photos, so you may want to invest in a good digital image editing piece of software like ThumbsPlus or a higher more professional piece of software like Adobe Photoshop. Flatbed scanners are the cheapest at around $100 and the more speciality scanners used for slide, film, or large documents can reach up to $500 or more. Businesses that go with the "all in one" devices that scan, fax, print, and copy should save money by doing this but also take the risk that if one feature on the machine needs repairs, it could render the other functions useless as they tend to work together. The top scanner makers are Canon, Fujitsu, Visioneer, Epson, Hewlett Packard, Kodak, Mustek, and Panasonic. We found some great reviews online at PC World and PC Magazine and Consumer Reports did a recent article on flatbed scanners that was very informative. Amazon.com also has some customer opinions and feedback online with the top scanners rated and ranked by actualy owners. You can browse the top selling computer scanners online here.

Best Flatbed Scanner:

The Epson Perfection 4490 Photo Scanner ($110) gets a "best buy" from us and many other sites that review scanners. The Epson 4490 gives you professional scans with 4800 X 9600 dpi resolution and you get the Epson Easy Photo Fix software that will restore and repair faded color photos. The built-in transparency unit with dedicated light source will hold four 35 mm slide, 35 mm negatives, and 2 1/4" transparencies. This is the most versatile scanner we could find under $200 and owners can say enough about the quality scans it produces. With the increased dpi on this scanner you can enlarge and crop slides and photos and still keep the finest details. Features Kodaks Digital ICE technology which is known for eliminating dust and scratch marks on photos and film. The USB 2.0 gets you high speed data transfer and it works with both Windows and Mac based systems. Consumers say this scanner is "unbelievable" and works wonders with 35mm slides. You can view the most popular photo scanners here.


Flatbed Scanner for Film/Slides:

RECOMMENDED - It's clear that Canon is the leader in this field and their Canon CanoScan 8800F Color Film/Negative/Photo Scanner is the product to go with. The high luminance white LED lamps give you professional quality scanning capabilities and the batch scan of up to 4 slides or twelve 35-millimeter frames is what sets it apart from the competition. Owners say the Canon can digitally remove dust and scratches from older photos and provide images that look like they were taken yesterday. The CanoScan 8800F is modern in that you can scan, copy and create emails and multi-paged PDF's with this machine. Maximum color dpi resolution is 4800 x 9600 and customers can't say enough about how easy it is to operate and scan in photos/film/slides/negatives.

Document Scanner:

RECOMMENDED - The Fujitsu document scanners are the top rated models when it comes to sheet fed office scanners. Get instant PDF's or documents for web usage and email. The Fujitsu ScanSnap S510 Sheet-fed Scanner was the top seller for years with near perfect owner reviews but the newer model is the Fujitsu ScanSnap S1500. We read some complaints that the S1500 didn't do batch feeds as well as the S510 and that could be true, but home and office professionals say that both units provide fast, efficient scanning in homes or offices. The S510 from Fujitsu handles high volume document scanning with ease - the 600 dpi scanner does 18 pages per minute and features a 50 sheet automatic document feeder, referred to as ADF in some reviews.


Slide Scanner:

If you are a professional photographer, having a dedicated slide and film scanner around can save you hours of time. The Canon listed above will do batches of slides and film negatives, but it can't compare to the Nikon Super CoolScan 5000 ED Film Scanner ($1600). The Coolscan has 4000 dpi true optical resolution, a 16-bit A/D converter, and will scan 35mm slides, 35mm film strips, APS film, and prepared slides. Owners say the scans are fast - preview scans take 11 seconds and full scans are complete in 20 seconds. This dedicated film/slide scanner offers direct film loading, a high quality CCD sensor, and a Scan Image Enhancer for richer images. There are more expensive models available from Nikon, but the 5000 offers excellent performance based on customer reviews. The 9000 ED from Nikon is another scanner that has been around for years, but in online forums we heard that Nikon is lacking in support for issues related to their older scanner lines.

Budget Flatbed Scanner:

Ok, so you don't need a flatbed scanner with all the bells and whistles. The Canon LiDE100 Color Image Scanner ($60) is a great low priced scanner. Canon has an excellent name in the imaging industry and the LiDE100 won't disappoint. You get high speed, high resolution images with the USB 2.0 interface. Scans with up to 2400 x 4800 color dpi resolution. "Best bang for the buck" is what one owner states online and it seems to be a pretty common expression used for this Canon scanner. Great quality scans for a cheap price. One final note on budget scanners, we researched Visioneer and Mustek scanners online since their prices are pretty cheap compared to the other brands, but we found their products lacked the proper drivers or software problems arose on many consumers. Customer satisfaction levels for those 2 scanner makers was lower than all the others we found.