Learn to choose the best office scanner – evaluate scanning needs, select the right scanner type, and consider features like OCR to make the right choice.
Not all scanners are equal. Each scanner is for a specific need, so what may be best in class for one situation could be a lagging runner-up in another. Recognizing this, considering your needs, and searching for a scanner that prioritizes those needs is a great way to find the best scanner for your office.
Consider Your Needs
Before you can find the right tool for the job, consider the job itself. Specifically, you’ll need a clear picture of all your scanning needs in order to match those needs to the correct product. Start by asking yourself the following questions.
What are you scanning?
This is the most important factor in determining which scanner you should be using. Your need to digitize documents can range from simple to very complex, but it all boils down to what kind of document it is, and what you need to do with the information that’s on the page. Straightforward applications like back-scanning records in your file cabinets to save space call for scanners that can handle high volumes, but don’t need cutting-edge features. Look for more advanced features like searchability and indexing, when you want to be able to extract digital information for reuse in digital business applications. Documents like invoices, medical records, bills of lading, loan or new client applications and new employee paperwork are all good candidates for integration into business systems. After selecting what you will be scanning, you can get into the specifics of models and the right checklist of scanning features. (The rest of the questions will help you with those aspects.)
How often do you scan?
The volume of scanning you need to complete will decide what class of scanner you should buy. If you only plan on scanning a couple items a day, investing in a heavy-duty scanner doesn’t make sense. Good options for one-off scanning needs could be a dedicated small office scanner, a multifunction printer (MFP) with integrated scanning, or potentially a scanning app on your smartphone. The key thing to consider is what you want to get out of your documents? These options are great for lower volumes, but expect for trade-offs on functionality, speed or reliability. If you need a more robust solution, an entry level business scanner is the perfect balance between low volume needs and upgraded capability.
The heavier the load, the more robust your business document scanner needs to be to handle it. When looking at scanner specifications, pay attention to the listed duty cycle to make comparisons between models on the number of scans a unit can handle per day. Note that the listed duty cycle gives you the maximum volume, and will give you an indication of the robustness and class of the scanner when you’re making comparisons.
Do you need optical character recognition?
Optical character recognition (OCR) is software that converts scanned images to machine-readable text. This technology unlocks the power of information in your documents, by digitizing and letting you use valuable content on the page in a variety of ways. This digitized content, it’s editable, searchable and shareable.
Does resolution matter?
Almost all business document scanners have comparable specifications for resolution, so evaluating devices based on resolution won’t tell you the whole story. What’s more important is the image processing technology that drives your selected scanner and image capture software. To optimize the OCR data from scanned documents, image quality is key. Blurry or obscured scanned images are not consistently read by OCR software. This means you’ll be back to the drawing board for digitization; people on your team will need to devote significant amounts of time to preparing documents for scanning and hand-keying documents that didn’t get properly converted.
Look for some of these key features in your next scanning solution to get the most out of your investment:
- Deskew and auto-cropping
- Auto brightness
- Color smoothing
- Streak removal
- Noise reduction
- Background color dropout
- Photo segmentation
- Binarization (optimizing in black and white for better OCR read rates)
Find the Right Tool for the Job
Desktop scanners are compact and quiet, making them an excellent choice for customer-facing transactions. Scanning is performed quickly, without the need to step away from the front desk. The Alaris S2050/S2070 scanners lets users create PDFs, attach documents to email, and send to the cloud, or other destinations, as needed. Despite the small size and quiet operation, these scanners can scan up to 5,000 documents per day.
Departmental scanners are perfect for large offices where multiple users from different departments share equipment. With a throughput speed of up to 110 pages per minute, the Kodak i3300 scanner can handle multiple users and a volume of up to 25,000 pages per day.
Production scanners support large scale operations, such as mailrooms and production departments. With throughputs of up to 150,000 pages per day, the Kodak i4000 series of scanners are built to stay busy. These production scanners offer exception handling for non-standard items with a straight-through rear exit that allows loading of materials such as cardboard or extra-long documents.
Portable scanners are small enough for go-anywhere portability. They can be useful when you need to scan a document and taking a picture of it just won’t do. Unsurprisingly, portable scanners often do not offer faxing or indexing capabilities. A Portable scanner is typically USB-powered, and despite its compact size, easily handles many document types and sizes.
Wireless scanners are a boon for businesses that want to share one device among multiple users, or when they need the flexibility to move a device around without worrying about where there’s a network drop. With standard TWAIN or ISIS drivers, there is no complicated software installation, and IT administrators can disable the wireless capability, ensuring security of the system. Consider models like the Alaris S2060w/S2080w for best performance with wireless, network capability.
Scanning very large originals and micro sized films requires special attention. Most large format scanners are roll fed scanners and great for back file conversion of architectural and engineering drawings, maps, and other line drawing applications. For certain applications, when the original cannot be fed through, a flatbed scanner is more appropriate. Many libraries, government agencies, medical facilities, financial institutions, energy, gas and power corporations are moving from microfilm storage to digital files. A quality microfilm scanner is the perfect tool to perform this conversion.
Having determined what you need and reviewed your options, you’re now well on your way to picking the right scanner for your business.
To learn more about scanner solutions to help you go paperless Contact Us today!
Note: Significant portions of this post are derived from “How to choose the best scanner for your office”, originally published by Kara Rayburn, Kodak Alaris Global Manager, Product Marketing & Web