Five answers will lead you to the best scanner for your department

Five answers will lead you to the best scanner for your department

Here are five questions, taken from a Hewlett-Packard Co. white paper, to keep in mind when choosing the scanner that best meets your needs:

• Will the scanner help you complete your task quickly?

Scanners should automatically find and optimize images so you don't have to adjust complex settings unless you want to. Reduced task time is a better measure of a quality scanner than scanner speed, or the time it takes the scanner to scan the page.

• Is the scanner easy to use?

You should be able to start a scanner from within an application or by simply pressing a button. The scanner should automatically find images, text and line art without you having to draw bounding boxes around them. The scanner should automatically recognize and make the correct settings for different information such as photos, text, drawings or logos. It should also automatically pick the right file type for the software program you want to use.

• How do I get good image quality?

Low-cost scanners may have small lenses, poor optics and weak light sources that will not reproduce images well. High-quality optics and sophisticated image processing chips combined with good scanning software ought to produce a good scan the first time without having to make adjustments.

• Is the manufacturer reliable? How good is the support package?

Check a manufacturer's reputation for reliability and support. If the scanner has a problem, how easy is it to get service? What about the warranty? Is round-the-clock technical support available?

• What about resolution?

Some manufacturers inflate resolution claims by publishing high-interpolated resolution numbers. High dot-per-inch numbers do not necessarily indicate quality images. High quality is related to the quality of the lens, mirrors and other optical hardware, along with the mechanical stability of the optical system, its focal range and stability, the quality of the scanning software, and many other hardware and software features.

'J.B. Miles

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