Popular Scanner Features - dummies

By Mark L. Chambers

When you are adding a scanner to your PC system, you need to know what to look for. Here’s a list of the minimum scanner features you need for home or home office use when you’re shopping for a flatbed scanner:

  • A minimum flatbed optical resolution of 4800 x 9600: Without delving too deeply into the details of scanner resolution — the number of pixels your scanner can capture — you should reject any flatbed scanner that offers less than 4800 x 9600 dots per inch (dpi) and any sheet-fed scanner with less than 600 x 1200 dpi.

    Note that you should be checking the optical (also often called hardware or raw) resolution and not any resolution figure that’s enhanced or interpolated. Those fancy words just indicate that the scanner’s software is adding extra dots in the image. Called faux pixels because they aren’t read from the original. Just ignore any enhanced or interpolated resolution figures when shopping for a scanner.

  • Single-pass operation: If a scanner can capture all the color data that it needs in one pass, it takes less time (and introduces less room for registration error) than a scanner that must make three passes across the same original.’Nuff said.

  • One-button operation: Most scanners now offer one or more buttons that can automatically take care of common tasks. For example, one button might scan the original and create an e-mail message with the scanned image as an attachment, and another might scan the original and automatically print a copy on your system printer.

  • A minimum of 42-bit color: The higher the bit value, the more colors your scanner can capture. Ignore any scanner that can’t produce at least 42-bit color; heck, many scanners can now produce up to 96-bit color!

  • A film adapter: Whether it’s optional or included with the scanner, the ability to add a film adapter allows you to scan film negatives and slides (positives) with much better results.

  • USB or FireWire connection: Choose a scanner that uses either a Universal Serial Bus (USB) 2.0/3.0 connection or a FireWire connection. Of course, your PC needs the prerequisite ports.