Today's scanners are faster, more productive, capture color more accurately, have better image quality and are more affordable due to advancements in technology. There are also more options than ever before, which can make it difficult to select the wide format scanner that is right for your unique needs.
Whether you plan to use your scanner for digitizing maps, fine art, construction drawings or posters, it is critical to understand the many choices available. Below, Océ outlines the five key attributes to consider when purchasing a wide format scanner.
Key User Requirements
An understanding of how your scanner will be used, who will be using it, your scanning volumes and flexibility needs will help you identify the most important user requirements.
- Color or Black & White (B/W): Determine whether you will need color or black and white (B/W) output or possibly both for your wide format scans. The document originals you are using and your archiving requirements will help you make this decision. Scanner Usability: Certain key features ensure your scanner will be user-friendly and productive for walk-up users and novices. These include, scan templates, matrix copying, output trays and auto/stream feeding.
- Scan Speeds and Scan Modes: The larger your scan volumes, the faster your scanner should be; not considering speed when purchasing a wide format scanner can potentially create a workflow bottleneck. Also, make sure the scanner you are considering offers a broad range of dpi and scan mode settings.
- Scan Destinations and File Types: The more flexibility users have, the more productive they will be. Ensure your scanner supports scan to file, scan to print and the most common file types (e.g. PDF, PDFA, TIFF, and CALS).
- Scanner Configuration: The ultimate in flexibility is a scanner that supports or can be upgraded to meet these configurations – stand-alone scanner, support for multiple printers and a multifunction scanner and printer combination.
- Document Sizing: The size of originals scanned determines the width of scanner needed. Size requirements also depend on the physical limitations of your space.
Resolution and bit depth are critical components to image quality. When evaluating a scanner, consider the two types of resolution available: optical resolution and interpolated resolution. The key to selecting the right resolution is to understand your applications. For example, if you are scanning to print for applications such as painting replicas, photos or posters a higher dpi resolution will be needed. Conversely, if you are archiving B/W files, a lower dpi resolution is sufficient.
Bit depth – the number of bits of color information per pixel – is important when scanning color images. The more bits of information available, the more available the color and the more accurate the color representation.
Image Enhancement Capabilities
Image enhancement software helps to ensure that originals are scanned with optimal quality the first time with minimal user intervention. Software should be able to clean up damaged or dirty originals while enhancing weak lines. This can be especially important when scanning older documents. Look for image enhancement technology that analyzes and enhances every line of the document in real time from the top to the bottom of the original.
Additional features that improve image quality include automatic background compensation, filtering, half toning and file size optimization.
You will likely have two choices of scan technology to consider: CIS (Contact Image Sensor) or CCD (Charge Coupled Device). A CIS scanner has the ability to produce fine lines and small type, making it ideal for technical documents (e.g. CAD, GIS, AEC, and maps). Graphic arts applications to scan photographs, renderings and posters often require a CCD scanner.
Running test scans using your more commonly used documents to determine image quality is an easy way to decide which technology is best suited for your needs. If quality differences are not discernible, consider factors such as speed and costs.
Many users strive to reduce their impact on the environment - making energy consumption an important factor when selecting a wide format scanner. Selecting a scanner that has a fast warm up time and a standard timer clock so users can power-up and power-down according to their operational needs can help minimize energy waste. Also, look for the ENERGY STAR, ISO 14001 and RoHS certifications.
For more information about the key attributes to consider when selecting a wide format scanner, download the Océ Wide Format Scanner Buyer's Guide at www.oceusa.com/ScannerGuide. Whether your scanning needs include full or partial sized documents, archiving or copying, this buyer's guide will lead you through all of the options available.