Finding a Scanner for the Big Jobs


Q. I have a lot of documents to scan, and with so many mobile phone apps that can make digital copies, is there any advantage to buying a scanner anymore? Is the quality that much better?

A. If you just have an occasional bill, receipt or other document to digitize, mobile apps that use your smartphone’s camera to capture the image are a convenient and portable solution. Many apps give you a choice of file formats for saving your documents (JPG and PDF are common) and you can instantly email the digital copies to others or upload them to an online file-storage site for safekeeping. Some mobile-scanning apps like Microsoft Word Lens can even convert a picture of a text page into a file you can edit, thanks to optical-character recognition software.

However, a traditional scanner does have advantages. For one, the scanner can help flatten the paper and make unwrinkled reproductions of the original document. Many inkjet printers include scan and copy functions, along with desktop software for cropping, rotating and enhancing the scans on a bigger screen. Optical character recognition and text search are also options with some programs.

Photo

The software that comes with a scanner usually provides more control over digitizing documents than a smartphone app.

Credit
The New York Times

If you have a large amount of paper to scan on a regular basis, a dedicated scanner with an automatic document feeder can help simplify the chore. Brother and Epson are among the companies that make models for less than $250.

Lightweight portable document scanners, which often cost between $200 and $300, are another option if you need relative mobility but do not want to use a smartphone app to capture images. Wirecutter, a product recommendation site owned by The New York Times, favors the Epson WorkForce ES-300W (which has a 20-page feeder) as its pick for best portable document scanner.

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