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Shopping For A Scanner

What to look for in a desktop scanner

Desktop scanners are one of the most popular computer peripherals on the scene today. In the last few years, scanners have outsold all other types of PC related devices.

Here are a few things to consider when shopping for a desktop scanner:

  • Scanner resolution - A scanner's resolution is measured in "dots per inch" or DPI. In general, the higher a scanner's DPI, the higher the quality of the scanned images.

    Today, an entry level scanner will have a resolution of at least 600 DPI. The better scanners on the market will offer a DPI of 2400, 4800, or higher.
  • Color depth - The higher the scanner's color depth, the higher the quality of the color of the scanned images. Scanners with 48 bit color are typical today.
  • Supported paper types - Low end scanners can scan the contents of plain paper only, while other models can also scan transparencies.
  • Flatbed vs. sheet-fed scanners - Sheet-fed scanners used to be significantly less expensive than flatbed scanners, but the prices of flatbed scanners have dropped to the point where it make so sense whatsoever to even consider a sheet-fed model.
  • TWAIN compatible scanners - Virtually all scanners on the market today are TWAIN compatible, meaning they can work seamlessly with most graphics software programs.
  • Scanner to PC interface type - In the past, the most inexpensive scanners came equipped with a parallel port connection which resulted in poor performance and installation hassles.

    Today, virtually all scanners are sold with a fast and problem free USB connection. Higher end models are available with a super-fast Firewire interface.
Today's scanners offer perhaps the best cost/performance ratio of any PC peripheral. For typical home use, most any flatbed scanner will do a good job for you.

If you're looking for a scanner for high-end image processing, you'll probably be better served with a more expensive, feature rich scanner.

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