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How to choose a scanner

Scanners are devices for scanning the original, which is most often a document or an image, and then converting it into digital form. You can then continue working on the scanned document, send by e-mail, or post it on a website. The most common are flatbed scanners that work in sync with a computer. The paper is placed on a glass window and the scanner then scans it using its image sensor. Scanner differ mostly in their scanning resolution, speed, and features.

Woman at the scanner


  • Flatbed scanners are the most common
  • The higher the resolution, the more detail you get
  • Support A4 sheets, some can also handle A3

What parameters are particularly important when choosing a scanner?

Typ skeneru

Scanner types

Desktop flatbed scanners
A popular and widely used scanner type. You place a sheet of paper, whether with text or images, on the glass window and it gets scanned by the scanning mechanism beneath it. These scanners are notable for their excellent scanning quality. They are mostly designed for A4 format sheets, though select models can accommodate A3 as well. They take up more space than sheetfed scanners.

Desktop sheetfed scanners with a document feeder
They work on a similar principle as fax machines. You put a paper sheet in the tray and the sheet then passes through the scanner mechanism. Sheetfed scanners take up less space on your desk than flatbed scanners, but they rarely support documents larger than A4. This type is suitable for scanning large volumes of documents, because they are faster than flatbed scanners. On the other hand, they are not suitable for scanning books and magazines, since you can only insert a single sheet.

Film scanners
Scanners for film strips. They are more expensive than flatbed scanners, but offer higher colour depth and better resolution.

Portable scanners
Small scanners for occasional scanning in the office or on the go. They are powered via a USB connector and are suitable for business travellers, for example. The downside is that their small and compact size requires some compromises, so they provide lower quality scanning than other scanner types.

Barcode scanners
Handheld and ergonomic, they are commonly used in shops, warehouses, etc.

Stolní plošné skeneryStolní protahovací skenerFilmový skenerPřenosný skenerČtečka čárových kódů
Flatbed scannersSheetfed scannersFilm scannersPortable scannersBarcode scanners
Snímací rozlišení

Scanner resolution

Listed in DPI (dots per inch, i.e. the number of pixels per inch). The higher resolution the scanner has, the better and more detailed the scanning results. Most modern scanners offer a resolution of at least 1200 × 2400DPI. This is generally enough for normal home or office use, since common text and image documents rarely require top-notch scanner resolution. For more advanced users who work with detailed graphic design, we recommend a scanner with a higher resolution. Some models support scanning at 4800 x 9600DPI, for example.

Tip: Higher resolution always means better quality, but it also creates a larger document size and places higher demands on your PC hardware. If you want to work with high-resolution scans without any hassle, you should have a PC with an Intel Core i5 or i7 processor and an NVIDIA GeForce GTX or Quadro graphics card.

Scanning speed

Scanning speed

Most scanners scan the original in 20-30 seconds; faster models can even do in 10 seconds. However, the scanning speed is also affected by the set scanning resolution and the overall performance of your computer. If you have a powerful PC and set a lower resolution (quality), your documents will get scanned faster.

Connecting the scanner to your PC

Connecting the scanner to your PC

Today's scanners feature the standard USB interface that supports high-speed communication between the scanner and the computer. Almost all today's computers support USB. Sometimes you can also encounter the SCSI connector. Some models are equipped with WiFi technology that aloo’s you to send scans wirelessly to a computer, smartphone, or tablet.

Tip: Always make sure that your computer has the same connectors as your chosen scanner before buying. Otherwise, you would have to use adapters.

USB konektor USB
SCSI konektor SCSI

Useful scanner functions and features

  • OCR - a software feature that lets you convert scanned documents into text format. This means you can search or copy parts of the text in the resulting file.
  • Slide scan frame - select scanners come with a special frame where you can insert a reversal film. This way, you can convert your old photos into digital form.
  • Feeder - insert a stack of documents into it and the scanner will take it and scan it. Having scanner with a document feeder can save you a lot of time, especially if you need to scan a large number of documents at once.
  • Image editing software - some manufacturers provide extra software for editing the scanned images.
  • Display - shows you how your scanning progresses.
  • Internal memory - internal memory is typical for portable scanners. These scanners use their internal memory to store the scanned data, which can then be moved to a PC or laptop. Some models have a memory card slot to expand the internal storage capacity.

Glossary - Scanners


The amount of pixels per inch in scanned documents. The scanned document data size increases with the DPI count.


Single-sided scanning. The device can scan only one side of the inserted document. To scan the other side, you have to flip and reinsert the page.


Two-sided scanning. These scanners can automatically scan a sheet of paper on both sides without the need to flip the sheet.