What is a Document Scanner?

Blogged by TIS Marketing on November 28, 2012 and tagged with Document Scanner.

By definition, a document scanner is a device, which converts a document or text from its paper form into digital data. The current trend in document scanners is considered a big step toward effective document management. Document scanners reduce time and labor to transform the information from printed materials to digital data stores, for example, to the hard disks of a personal computer or to storage in the cloud. In addition, using a document scanner, it is possible to recover, retrieve and preserve old or valuable documents.

This article offers precise information regarding the various types, functions as well as pros and cons of different document scanners.

Types of Document Scanners

Document scanners are categorized into two distinct types: portable document scanners and desktop document scanners. Each of these types are currently very popular and in wide use throughout the world.

Portable Document Scanners

Portable document scanners include foldable document scanners, handheld wand scanners and pen scanners. All of them are compact, lightweight and perfect for use on the go. They are designed to scan either an entire page or selected portions of a document with precision and quality. Most of them are USB or battery powered, which adds to their portability, as you do not need to carry an AC adapter while traveling. The way in which a scanner scans documents is another distinct difference among the various types of portable document scanners: Foldable document scanners scan either the entire page or a selected part of a document in one go, while handheld wand or pen scanners scan a specific portion of the page at user's discretion.

Portable document scanner

Desktop Document Scanners

Desktop document scanners include sheet-fed scanners and flatbed scanners. They are generally large in size and resemble photocopiers. Sheet-fed scanners are equipped with a sheet feeder that pulls in documents to be scanned sequentially, while flatbed scanners are designed with a glass plate and a cover. Scanned documents are placed face-down on the glass plate with the cover closed. After the documents have been scanned, the resulting image is transferred digitally to a computer. It is worth noting that some flatbed scanners also include a sheet feeder, allowing an entire document or page to be scanned with minimum human interaction.

Desktop document scanner

Primary Functions

The main function of document scanners, as mentioned, is to capture the reflections of scanned documents or text and save these images digitally to picture or PDF formats. With the advancement of scanning technology, most document scanners can distinguish variations in color. Those with built-in optical character recognition (OCR) software are able to convert images into editable text, which effectively decreases cost and time spent on tedious manual data entry. Also, document scanners connected to the Internet makes sharing online hassle-free: Scanned documents can be shared via drag-and-drop into e-mail application or image processing package.

Pros & Cons

The advantages of portable document scanners are that they are compact and mobile. Most of them fit easily into A4- / letter-size bags, briefcase bags or carry-ons for travel. They do not require additional accessories for complicated assembly. They are USB or battery powered, so different electrical systems are not a concern when users travel internationally. The disadvantage is that portable document scanners cannot handle high-volume scanning work without human control.

On the other hand, the advantage of desktop document scanners is that most desktop scanners fitted with a sheet feeder can automatically deal with large quantities of paperwork. However, the disadvantages of these scanners are that they usually take up more space due to their physical size, and documents or pages going through automatic sheet feeders might require human intervention at times, for example, to fix paper jams or when pages stick together. Even worse, lamps on high-volume desktop document scanners need to be replaced regularly, which amounts to higher maintenance costs to ensure consistent quality and peak performance.


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