The 10 Best Sheet Fed Scanners
Why Go With A Sheet Fed Scanner?
If you’ve ever scanned a single document on a flatbed scanner, you’re familiar with the process. You lift the lid, carefully place the document to be scanned on the surface, trying painstakingly to get it properly straight and aligned within the guidelines. You close the lid, unsure as to whether that very act somehow offset your document. You cross your fingers, hit the scan button, and wait. And wait.
It can take a long time for a flatbed scanner to get warmed up, and if you’re performing a high-resolution scan with inferior equipment, it can take a lot longer for a single page to scan. Then, imagine that you’ve got a stack of some 35 or 40 pages, and that each one needs to be scanned with equal precision. All of a sudden this task, which should, in theory, be pretty simple, stands to take the whole afternoon.
If you were to take that same job and use a sheet fed scanner to get it done, the story would look a lot different. Sheet fed scanners employ what’s known as an automatic document feeder. This implement works in much the same way that the paper feeding portion of any printer tray works. It has the ability to pull a single page at a time from a pile and feed it through a mechanical path. In the case of a printer, that path introduces the paper to inkjets or lasers. In the case of the sheet fed scanner, that paper — which already has information, text, or graphics printed on it — passes by an optical scanning mechanism.
The result is a process that you merely have to set up and let run its course. A sheet fed scanner will pull one page at a time through its body without you having to do anything more than load it up and hit start. So, instead of standing by a flatbed scanner and waiting for each page to scan, taking it out and replacing it with the next one, you can let the machine itself automate the job, and you can get back to working (or lounging at your desk, depending on where your boss is at the moment).
How To Choose The Right Sheet Fed Scanner For You
Picking a sheet fed scanner shouldn’t be too difficult a process. If you know what you’re going to use it for most often, you can pick from a few notable features to ensure you get a model that will please you.
If, for example, you work in an office that needs to scan a lot of documents, you’re going to need a professional-level scanner. These will often have greater duty cycles than the other models on the market. A duty cycle lets you know how many pages per day, week, or month that you can safely scan without the unit requiring any unscheduled maintenance.
Homes and home offices can definitely make good use of a sheet fed scanner, as well, but they won’t need the same durability and duty cycle that you see in the higher end models. That said, there are some features of the less robust machines on the market that are very useful both to professionals and the average joe. There are sheet fed scanners, for example, that are combined with flatbed scanners, giving you the best of both worlds. These are particularly useful if you need to scan more than just paper documents, like photographs or even flat objects for archival or restorative purposes.
Good features for anyone to look out for, whether they intend their unit for personal or professional use, include tray capacity, resolution, speed, and size. Capacity refers to the amount of pages you can set up for a given job. The greater this number, the larger jobs you can set up to run automatically without you having to oversee anything. If you need to scan materials with lots and lots of pages, this can be very useful, but if your average document is only a few pages long, you can sacrifice your tray capacity in favor of another specification.
Resolution refers to a given scanners ability to more clearly render what it scans. This stat is often represented in dots per inch, and higher numbers equate to better resolution, which can be important if there are handwritten notes on a given document, and a low-res scan might render them illegible. Be careful if speed is a concern, however, as higher resolutions often come at the cost of speed. Compare the resolution of a given scanner to its count of pages per minute, and you’ll be able to balance your resolution needs with your time needs.
Finally, regarding size, sheet fed scanners can sometimes have larger footprints than their flatbed counterparts, but that doesn’t mean you should have to waste an entire desk on a scanning station. That said, size is likely the least important thing to consider. Make sure the other specifications are in place for your needs before you worry about fitting the unit into your office decor.
A Brief History Of The Scanner
The scanner as we know it was born out of the development of telephotography and fax technologies in the middle of the 19th century. These devices were used to read the information printed on a given piece of paper, translate it into a code that could travel along a telephone wire, and then be reprinted by a complementary machine at the other end of that wire. It’s that first step — the reading of a handwritten page — that lead to today’s scanners.
In 1913, the Belinograph, invented by Edouard Belin, became the first device to use a photocell to read a given page for transmission over phone lines. This technology became the standard for news agencies for nearly a century, only to be replaced as digital photo sensor technologies became smaller and less expensive.
Today’s sheet fed scanners feed papers past imaging sensors that utilize optical character recognition to identify letters and translate them into digital copies. Good OCR software will even let you instantly edit the text on a scanned document in a whole host of available software.