We researched over 40 scanners and spent weeks scanning thousands of pages using 10 of the best scanners on the market today. We found the best model to digitize your documents, receipts, and old photos. We carefully evaluated each model's scan quality, speed, and ease of managing the resulting digital files. Whether you're just looking to digitize a few receipts here and there, have a stack of old photos that you want to preserve digitally, or have mountains of documents that need to be saved for posterity, our testing results will help you choose the best model for you.
The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1600 is our top recommendation for those who have any job or small business that demands high quality, speed, and ease of use. Thanks to a large automatic document feeder and breakneck pace, this model turns a 50-page document into a PDF in a flash with a single push of a button. The resulting PDF looks great because this machine can accurately and crisply render everything from tiny text to detailed graphics. The user experience is also simple, as the iX1600 offers a large LCD touchscreen with an intuitive interface that makes both setup and daily use a breeze.
This model suffered from some errors in optical character recognition, but this is a common problem for many scanners. With that in mind, the only serious downside to note is the premium price. Some users may not scan enough to justify the hefty price tag. However, if scanning is a major part of your workflow, the investment is well worth the time and effort you'll save and the superior-quality scans you'll receive. For a high-speed, easy-to-use, high-quality machine, look no further than the iX1600.
Pages Per Minute: 17 | Automatic Document Feeder Capacity: 50
REASONS TO BUY
Easy to use and super convenient app
Can queue up a lot of papers to be scanned
REASONS TO AVOID
Has to be plugged into a computer to transmit
If you are looking for the best scanner on the market today but wouldn't mind saving a hundred bucks without giving up much of anything, check out the Canon ImageFORMULA R40. It is a serious challenger to the most premium models we've ever tested. Alas, this scanner was unable to match the speed of Fujitsu's incredibly fast ScanSnap iX1600 but did much better when it came down to optical character recognition. It performed a little better in terms of software quality and ease of use.
Unfortunately, this model isn't flawless. It doesn't support wireless scanning, and as we already mentioned, it simply can't compete with the incredible 67-page-per-minute speed exhibited by Fujitsu products. The good news is you can have equal scanning performance, better OCR, and a more user-friendly experience at a lower price. If 17 pages per minute is fast enough for your needs, the ImageFORMULA R40 is a perfect choice.
Pages Per Minute: 4 | Automatic Document Feeder Capacity: N/A
REASONS TO BUY
Great scan quality
Very small and portable
REASONS TO AVOID
Not great for long (10+ page) documents
For most, the ideal scanner can quickly and conveniently digitize a short document or receipt whenever needed and then easily be tucked away until it is needed again. If you're one of these users, it's hard to beat the Brother DS-640. In our tests, this model consistently produced high-quality PDFs that looked nearly identical to the originals, almost perfectly used optical character recognition that made documents completely text searchable, and offered both simple and easy-to-use document management. Perhaps the most important and impressive feature is its size. The scanner is about the size of a standard power strip, weighs just over one pound, and can be powered via USB. All this means you can quickly plug it into your laptop when it's needed, then easily hide it away when not in use. You can even toss it in your backpack next to your laptop if you need to scan documents on the go. It's an ultra-compact and robust scanner at a relatively low price.
The only real downside to this model is its speed. Because you must manually feed each page, digitizing page after page of a document can turn out to be a slow and cumbersome process. The process gets even more time-consuming due to the lack of a duplex scanning feature, meaning you must feed every double-sided page twice. For reference, it took us two and a half minutes to digitize five double-sided pages with the Brother DS-640, a task that models with automatic document feeders easily handled in under 30 seconds. If you consistently scan documents over ten pages, this won't be the model for you. Still, for many people, the Brother DS-640 offers the convenience of size and simplicity at a price that won't gouge your wallet.
Pages Per Minute: 8 | Automatic Document Feeder Capacity: N/A
REASONS TO BUY
Great for portability
Can go up to 1200 dpi
REASONS TO AVOID
No feed tray or output tray
Epson hit it out of the park with the Epson WorkForce ES-60W. It is light, fast, compact, incredibly mobile, and really easy to use. Not only is it amazing for those who need scanning on the go, wireless scanning, or scanning to the cloud, but its performance also rivals some of the best desktop and flatbed style scanners on the market today.
Unfortunately, the Workforce ES-60W is slower to operate without a feed tray or an output tray. Larger stacks of documents can be a lengthy and even tedious chore, requiring manually feeding each sheet into the device. If you don't typically need to digitize multi-page documents and want great performance and robust features on the go, there is no better choice than the ES-60W.
The Fujitsu Fi-7160 Sheetfed could save you a ton of time and effort if your job or business requires you to digitize long documents with any frequency. It features a large 80-page automatic document feeder that can process a large stack of papers with a single push of a button. Even with the quick performance, the scan quality is still high, and the software managing the resulting files is easy and intuitive. It also does reliable character recognition to cement its place as the Ferrari of document scanners.
The hardest part to swallow is the glaring price point. The Fi-7160 is only worth the investment if you consistently have a sizable scanning workload, where time savings could offset the significant dent in your wallet.
Pages Per Minute: N/A | Automatic Document Feeder Capacity: N/A
REASONS TO BUY
Great text recognition
REASONS TO AVOID
Slow and laborious for multi-page documents
For only a few bucks, the Scanner Pro App provides all the firepower needed if your scanning needs are ordinarily just a few receipts or a 1-2 page document per week. This app uses some powerful software to essentially turn your smartphone's camera into a high-quality scanner. As long as you have a flat, relatively monochrome surface against which to snap an image, the scans are automatically cropped and come out looking surprisingly crisp. Since the resulting files end up on your phone, it is effortless to then attach them to emails or texts or upload them to the cloud storage service of your choice. It even offers optical character recognition that rivals the software's accuracy found on dedicated scanning devices.
Relying on your phone's camera to scan documents has some inherent drawbacks. For starters, the process is relatively slow due to the need to frame each shot. When working with one or two pages, it's not a big deal, but it can quickly become a time-consuming task when scanning multiple-page documents. You also have to be careful not to cast shadows on the materials you're scanning, or the end result may look smudged. Still, the Scanner Pro App is an incredibly inexpensive way to scan receipts and short documents on the go and can likely replace a dedicated model for many people.
To bring you honest and unbiased results, we buy and hands-on test each product in this list. Our review process comprises more than 150 hours of setup, software installation, file management, spot-checking optical character recognition, scanning paper documents, IDs, and passports. We put each model through more than 20 different tests and used each one in just about every way possible. The most important metric here is Scanning Performance, which accounts for 35% of the overall score. We divide it into two main sections to gauge overall performance: Black and White Scanning (text) and Color Photo Scanning. Whether you're seeking a powerhouse to turn giant stacks of paper into text-searchable PDFs or simply need an efficient way to digitize your receipts, we can help you find the perfect device.
Our testing of scanners is divided across four rating metrics:
Scanning Performance tests (35% of overall score weighting)
Speed tests (30% weighting)
Software tests (20% weighting)
User Friendliness tests (15% weighting)
Steven Tata and Max Mutter began testing home office products in 2016. They've used and analyzed hundreds of scanners, printers, shredders, and Chromebooks in the intervening years. That experience has given them a unique understanding of how to evaluate the quality of both printed and digital text and images and the common pitfalls of the software controls for common desktop devices. Their knowledge allows them to accurately assess whether a scanning device can do everything it needs without creating too many complications or annoyances for the user. New to this review is Matt Spencer, who has a background in engineering and has tested hundreds of household items.
Analysis and Test Results
In a world where our lives are increasingly organized in the digital realm, some institutions still insist on using paper documents to communicate important information. That's where a scanner comes in, allowing you to digitize the vital information on those scattered scraps into an easily organizable, searchable, and savable format. Since scanning is both an essential and annoying task, we focused most of our scoring on how well and how quickly each model can digitize documents. If you are unsure how to narrow down the options presented to you here, we offer help with that by outlining the most important features to look for and how to make sure a scanner aligns with your daily usage expectations.
When it comes to digitizing documents, you're mostly paying for two things: speed and scan quality. High-priced models like the Fujitsu iX1600 ScanSnap or Fi-7160 Sheetfed get you crystal clear text and can tear through pages in a flash. A more inexpensive model like the Canon ImageFormula R40 or the Brother DS-640 can still provide impressive scan quality, but at slower scanning speeds. The Epson Perfection V39 offers a reasonable value for scanning photos, but you again sacrifice the ability to scan long documents quickly.
A scan is useless if it isn't legible, making scanning performance the most important metric in our tests, weighted at 35% of the overall scores. Our first step in finding the best model is to assess the quality of the scans that each model produces. Our testing focuses on printed type, handwritten notes, and receipts. In this round of tests, we found that every model could generally produce great-looking text, with a few exceptions. However, differences were apparent when it came to how well each model could render color documents. These days it is more common to want to print a digital photo, but occasionally you need to digitize a printed photograph. Document scanners haven't traditionally been ideal for photos, but we still test their capabilities by scanning some images to see how well each model performs in that capacity. We then grade each model based on the scan clarity and color accuracy.
The Fujitsu ScanSnap iX1600 shared the top ranking in our scan quality tests. It produces crystal clear characters on an entirely white background, renders text documents and graphs to near perfection, and does a surprisingly good job scanning photos and maintaining accurate colors and composition. The only reason it didn't earn a perfect score is that it can occasionally make some images look oversaturated.
The Canon ImageFORMULA R40 shared the highest ranking for near-perfect black and white scanning and above-average color scanning performance. Although the sharpness of the digitized photos was nearly as good as the original, there was some minor darkening of dark areas and brightened light areas. In contrast, other models maintained more true light and dark distinctions.
Challenging other top models are the above-average Workforce ES-60W and the Brother DS-640. The scanning performance from the compact and portable ES-60W was surprisingly good and challenges the notion that only traditional desktop or flatbed style scanners can offer premium performance.
The Brother DS-640 despite its relatively low price tag, also earned high scores on our scan quality scoreboard. Throughout our tests, it rendered PDFs with clear text and accurate colors. It even did a decent job of scanning photographs (though we wouldn't feed treasured old photos through it for fear they'd be bent — a flatbed model is still best for such an application).
The two Epson flatbed models that we tested ranked slightly lower. Although they did not score as high, both produce excellent quality photo scans and are more than up to the task of digitizing your family albums. The V600 can even scan film negatives, something the V39 cannot do. They both create great-looking digital copies of text documents, but much more slowly than the dedicated document models.
The Scanner Pro App performed impressively in our scan quality testing, much better than expected. This app allows you to create high-quality and text searchable pdfs with no extra hardware by turning the camera on your phone into a scanner. If you find the perfect lighting, the resulting scans are nearly flawless. However, it is easy to get shadows on the corners of the document. While this doesn't take away from the scan's usefulness, it can look a bit odd.
Let's face it, nobody likes the process of scanning, so the faster you can get it over with, the better. We scanned a double-sided, 10-page document on each model to test speed and timed how long it took from loading the first page to opening a complete PDF and gave the results a 30% weighting in the overall scores of each product. We then converted these times into page-per-minute (ppm) figures. Models with automatic document feeders were much faster than those that required loading each page individually.
The Fujitsu iX1600 ScanSnap is the fastest model we tested; it blew through our 10-page duplex document in seconds. Its automatic document feeder aided this speed, which can handle up to 50 pages, allowing you to buzz through mid-length documents very quickly.
The Fujitsu Fi-7160 Sheetfed was just slightly behind its sibling. Its page-per-minute figure of 21 is slightly behind its sibling's speed, but it has a more substantial, 80-page automatic document feeder. This feature would allow you to blitz through an 80-page document in just under 4 minutes, a feat that would require slowing down to reload the document feeder of the iX1600. This capability earned the Fi-7160 Sheetfed a nod for one of the best high-volume scanning devices.
The Canon ImageFORMULA R40, while not nearly as fast as the ScanSnap line of scanners, is a very fast model. It was able to handle an average of 17 pages per minute, and with a large feed tray, it can make quick work of larger tasks with no compromises in scanning quality.
One of the lower-scoring scanners, the Scanner Pro App, requires that you place each page you want to scan onto a monochrome surface, frame it within the camera on your phone, and snap a picture. This process takes more time than feeding a piece of paper into a machine, but with that said, we were surprised by how quickly the app could scan a document. It can automatically recognize the edges of the paper, so you don't have to fuss too much about perfect framing. The combination of these features allowed us to scan three double-sided pages in a minute.
The Xerox Duplex Combo, although only an average to above-average model, is a flatbed style scanner that also incorporates a feed tray and is reasonably fast. It is an interesting hybrid that is fairly run-of-the-mill but might be an okay option for those seeking a more versatile device.
Since all of the flatbeds we tested are geared for photo scanning, they take much longer to scan text pages than their document-oriented counterparts. Scan times were somewhat variable, but on average, the Epson V600 took 40 seconds to scan a single text page, while the Epson V39 was slightly faster at around 30 seconds. Neither of these models would be up to the task of scanning long documents.
A device's software can easily make or break your scanning experience. Ideally, you want software that makes installation simple, offers intuitive file management, and can make scanned documents text-searchable using Optical Character Recognition (OCR). We installed all of our scanners' software packages onto multiple Mac and PCs, managed thousands of files with each OS, objectively rated OCR accuracy to find the best software of the bunch, and gave this metric a 20% weighting in the overall scores.
When it comes to optical character recognition, there are two new contenders in town, and neither is our overall top-rated model. Both the Canon ImageFORMULA R40 and the Epson WorkForce ES-60W outperformed every other device we've tested to date, giving the manufacturer of the most premium scanners a wake-up call.
We were surprised by the software capabilities offered by the simple Scanner Pro App. It spits out PDF files that you can easily manage within your phone's native file system and transfer directly into an email or text message or save to cloud services like Google Drive. It also has optical character recognition that is about 95% accurate. Finally, you can change all of its various options via a familiar, mobile touch screen interface, which is much easier than sifting through the PC-based software packages of the other models we reviewed.
Thanks to great optical character recognition, the Brother DS-640 also ranked highly in our software tests. The OCR is backed up with easy installation, operation, and file management, whether using a PC or Mac.
Although it is the all-around best scanner in our product lineup, the Fujitsu ScanSnap iX600 does a less than stellar job when it comes to accurate and reliable character recognition and has a significant amount of room for improvement.
The Epson Perfection V600 performed poorly for its included software. We feel like we spent more time than necessary wading through clunky menus before getting the scan settings we wanted. The software also did not seem to run well on any of our Mac devices, often freezing or crashing. The Epson Perfection V39 has very similar software, with a couple of extra features, like automatically recognizing that you're scanning two photos at once and creating two separate files.
User-friendliness is the last metric we test for, and it has a 15% weighting in the overall scores. Initial setup, including unboxing, calibrating, and getting a scanner to communicate to its associated software, can either be a simple and straightforward task or one so frustrating that it makes even the slickest model not worth buying. Additionally, small touches like how easy it is to load and unload paper and a clean user interface can make a model feel user-friendly or like it's been sent to turn your office chores into a never-ending purgatory. We connected each of our models with multiple different devices. We spent hours scanning various documents, receipts, ID cards, and more to uncover all the minor annoyances that might leave you wishing you'd bought a different model.
Luckily, most of our models were relatively easy to use, with multiple models sharing some great scores for the ease of use test metric. No model is perfect, but these top-performing models generally provide an easy setup and good user experience. The Canon ImageFORMULA R40 is one of those models. It took less than 10 minutes to set up and is incredibly easy and intuitive to use. It ranks slightly higher than the overall top model in this regard, giving the top model a serious run for its money.
Another notably easy to set up, easy to use, and incredibly convenient model we tested is the Epson WorkForce ES-60W. It took only 10 minutes to set up. Still, other factors like IOS compatibility, a compact format, wireless scanning, and battery-powered operation make it stand out. Its user-friendliness does suffer a little due to the requirement of manual feeding, as it lacks a feed tray, but that is an understandable trade-off for a scanner you can fit into a laptop case.
The Fujitsu iX1600 ScanSnap took us 15 minutes to get up and running, including a firmware update, and it was easy to get it to communicate with both Mac and PC devices. The automatic document feeder is easy to load, and the single-button interface keeps everything simple. Finally, the relatively large touchscreen controls provide a much more intuitive interface than any other model.
Both the Epson V600 and V39 flatbed models have easy-to-understand controls and talk to both Macs and PCs without any fuss. However, they do lack some of the convenient features of the document-oriented models, namely an automatic document feeder, which can make scanning long text documents quite cumbersome.
They may not be the most exciting devices, but finding the right scanner can improve organization in your life, help preserve memories, and even increase productivity. Even if your job doesn't explicitly require one, having a quick and easy way to digitize documents, photos, and receipts can keep things tidy, permanently preserved, and more organized. We hope that our detailed testing results will help you choose the model that is best for your home or small office needs.
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GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.