When you envision a scanner, chances are a flatbed immediately comes to mind. Resembling the upper portion of a photocopier, a flatbed scanner features a large flat glass base and a lid. You lay a photo, document, business card, or anything else that will fit on the glass, close the lid, and press a button to scan the item. There’s nothing else to it.
In addition to easily scanning various items, flatbed scanners generally offer higher resolutions than other types of scanners. While most offer a minimum DPI of 600, which is perfectly fine for scanning most photos and anything other than fine art, some have DPIs, or dots per inch, in the thousands!
Thanks to their high resolution, versatility, and ease of use, flatbed scanners are the best all-around solution for scanning albums of photos and light office use.
It is arguably true that technology is advancing at a tremendous rate. Over the years, different scanners are being incorporated into the market. It is crystal clear that different companies have joined in the manufacturing of scanners.
Is a flatbed scanner right for you?
If you need to scan photos, film, bound materials, and 3D objects, a flatbed scanner is just what you need. Just place the item to be scanned on the glass plate, close the lid over the top, press a button, and watch as it converts an image of the item into a digital format.
Sure, you can run photos, stamps, and other items through a sheet feeder, but the results may suffer, and the items can be damaged. If you only need to print photos and the like every once in a blue moon, a sheet-fed document scanner with a plastic carrier may get you by, but the scan quality is likely to deteriorate.
With a quality flatbed scanner, however, there’s no need to worry about poor scan quality. In fact, thanks to image enhancement technology, some flatbeds produce scans that look even better than the originals.
While scanner technology continues to evolve, it does so slowly, which means flatbed scanner models tend to stay on the market for years. That being said, we regularly update our buying guides, so if you run across an “oldie but goodie,” rest assured it’s still the cream of the crop compared to similar models.
How to Choose the Right Flatbed Scanner
Okay, so you know how flatbed scanners work and have learned a little about some of today’s top options, but now it’s time to choose the right one for you and your needs.
Most flatbed scanners can handle a variety of everyday office tasks. However, there are several different types and sizes to choose from, each fine-tuned for specific purposes.
Not sure which one to pick? Here are some questions to help you narrow down your options:
What items do you plan on scanning?
Knowing how often you expect to use your scanner and what you plan on scanning will help you identify all features you’ll need.
Most people use flatbed scanners for photos and documents. However, bound books, magazines, business cards, and film slides and negatives are also common scan items.
Since some flatbed scanners are bigger and have larger scanning surfaces than others, you should also consider the size of the originals you’ll be scanning, more on this below, as well as whether you will need to scan the front and back of document pages.
What size are the originals?
Choosing a flatbed large enough to handle the items you need to scan may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to overlook when scanner shopping.
Most flatbed scanners are designed to scan documents no larger than A3 or letter size. This will be an issue if you ever need to scan larger legal-sized documents.
While most flatbeds with an ADF function can scan larger pages, not all flatbeds have this function, and some that do can’t handle legal-sized documents.
You can find larger scanners with bigger flatbeds, but you’ll have to sacrifice some desk space, which for most, is a valuable commodity that’s difficult to part with.
Do you need high resolution?
For most scanning tasks, the resolution is a non-issue. In fact, for most documents, even a scan at 200 pixels per inch, or PPI, will be perfectly legible. Since nearly all flatbed scanners have a minimum PPI of 600, there’s no need to worry about document scanning resolution.
The same is true for photos. Unless you plan on using a scan to print a larger size of a photo, 600 PPI is typically more than enough to provide a crisp, clear, and vibrant image.
That being said, some items require higher resolution. For instance, film negatives and 35mm slides, which are often scanned to print much larger versions, require greater resolution. If you want to see tiny details in objects like stamps or coins, you’ll need a scanner with a PPI of 4,800 or higher.
Do you require a special-purpose scanner?
Most flatbed scanners are designed for general purposes, such as scanning photos and normal letter-size documents. Others, however, are specially designed for scanning books, business cards, and slides.
Book scanners are designed to allow the pages to lie flat, scanners for business cards, other small items are compact and portable in design, and slide scanners are smaller than flatbeds but have similar features. It’s worth noting that many of the top-quality flatbed scanners reviewed above have film and slide scanning capabilities.
What kind of software will you need?
Most flatbed scanners will work with almost any scanner program. However, if you need a scanner with specific software included, you’ll avoid having to pay extra for it.
Depending on your needs and what you plan on scanning, you may want to look for specific software features, such as optical character recognition, photo editing, and searchable PDF functionality.
From digitizing thousands of pages to bringing photo albums into the 21st century, here are
13 best flatbed scanners that can do it all yet shine bright in their own unique way.
Best Flatbed Scanners of 2021
1. Epson Perfection V600 – Best All-Purpose Scanner
While the V600 can’t exactly match the pixel quality of a much more expensive high-end photo scanner, it offers a high 6400 x 9600 DPI resolution and all of the functionality the average user could ask for.
Needless to say, it does a good job of living up to its name and creating near-perfect scans of the original. Sure, you’re going to lose some quality whenever you convert an image, but with the Epson Perfection, the scans are a near mirror image of whatever you lay on its glass flatbed. The scanner can produce fast, sharp, and crystalized images—this optical resolution allowing you to create brilliant enlargements up to 17 inches by 22 inches.
Easy Photo Fix tool
Furthermore, the Easy Photo Fix tool will give you the added touch you need for restoring images and give them that glow and clarity that counts for each image. Remarkable DIGITAL ICE technology for both film and prints automatically removes defects erasing scratches and dust from the film and fixing creases and tears on prints saving you money on costly photo retouching.
Not only does it feature image correction and enhancement technology to remove damage and improve the vibrancy of older photos, but this budget-friendly flatbed is also easy to use. In fact, you can have it up and running in under 10 minutes.
What’s also great about this tool is the sound clip feature. This sound clip will notify you when the scanning has completed a job and allow you to focus on another task.
A built-in transparency unit accommodates slides negatives and medium format film, so you scan and preserve practically any image from your photo archives.
V600 even includes ABBYY FineReader Sprint Plus optical character reader software so you can easily convert scanned documents into editable text.
Nonetheless, the bare-bones operation of this Epson is, for the most part, clean and simple.
You can also reduce or even eliminate contaminants like dust particles and eliminate the appearance of scratches, tears, and creases. You may lose sight of the past in your mind, but your pictures will keep those memories vivid and original using the Epson Perfection V600 scanner.
2. Canon CanoScan Lide 400 – Good Overall Flatbed Scanner
The Canon Lide 400 scanner has an elegant appearance that can be termed stylish. The design is also sophisticated, making it a sought-after scanning device for many people. There is no doubt that this scanner has lots of features that we should pay keen attention to.
This great scanner has an optical resolution of 4800 x 4800 DPI. This optical resolution is higher compared to that of many scanners in the market. Due to its high optical resolution, the Lide 400 scanner can scan crystal clear photos, and you will enjoy its scanning capability.
This scanner is compatible with the USB type C interface. It is also worth noting that the scanner can also operate with the USB 2.0 and 3.0 interfaces. The CanoScan Lide 400 operates within a temperature range of between 5-35 degrees Celsius. In addition to that, the scanner has a humidity operating range of between 10-90% RH, excluding condensation formation.
This scanner has a 3-color LED light source. The LED light source will automatically pass through your document to hasten the scanning process. In terms of scanning speed, the Canon company left no stone unturned. The scanner can scan a document within a mere 8 seconds.
The Lide 400 has ideal power efficiency. When in operation, the scanner has a power consumption of about 4.5W. In standby mode, it has a power consumption of 0.3W.
The scanner is compatible with the Scan gear and Scan utility software. The scanning software can operate both on Mac and Windows computers.
Upon purchasing this elegant scanner, you are given a USB cable, stand, and not forget the necessary software drivers. The scanning glass of this device can only accommodate an A4 paper.
When you add it all up, it’s an excellent value and a more than capable device for flawlessly scanning documents, photos, and more. If you want an all-purpose flatbed scanner that won’t break the bank, the Canon CanoScan Lide 400 might be a great choice for you.
3. Canon CanoScan 9000F MKII – Best Scanner for Photos
Right up there with some of the fastest and easiest-to-use premium flatbed scanners we tested, it’s our top recommendation for producing digital files of photos, book pages, and just about anything else not suitable for a document scanner.
The CanoScan 9000F delivers professional quality with a spectacular color resolution for your documents and photos up to 9600 x 9600 DPI. Vibrant color depth provides up to 281 trillion possible colors for rich, vivid, accurate color reproduction every time you scan.
This scanner can handle up to 12 frames of 35-millimeter film, both positives and negatives, or 4 slide frames concurrently.
Automatic image enhancement
While most scanners produce scans that look noticeably worse than the originals, the CanoScan utilizes automatic image enhancement to prevent loss of vibrancy and brightness. In many cases, we actually found its scanned images look even better than the originals.
On the downside, it’s a little slower than some flatbeds and a bit more expensive too. The automatic image enhancement produces scans of photos that look better but are a little less faithful to the originals than the Epson V600.
Nonetheless, as far as photo scan quality goes, the popular CanoScan is tough to beat.
4. Plustek A3 1180 – Best A3 Flatbed Scanner
The Plustek 1180 is another scanner you should contemplate purchasing. Its elegant design makes it notable from a far distance. There is no doubt that this scanner has powerful features.
The Plustek 1180 is an A3 format flatbed scanner. It has 1600 dots per inch image resolution capability. Well, this scanner is pretty fast since, in only eight seconds, it can scan a document at 300 DPI. The Plustek 1180 is easy to set up and use.
You can connect this fantastic device to your Mac or Windows computer via the 2.0 USB port. This scanner can scan black and white documents, not forgetting the colored documents. Well, a one-touch operation feature is incorporated in the Plustek 1180.
This smart device has four buttons that you can configure to suit your needs. In terms of image quality, the Plustek company left no stone unturned. The Plustek 1180 has an accurate and powerful image processing capability. With this scanner, you can be able to edit your image even after scanning.
The Plustek 1180 flatbed scanner is compatible with both Windows and Mac computers. It is highly advisable to download the most recent driver versions of the scanner. It is also ideal for large-scale scanning.
The Plustek 1180 is ideal for commercial uses. This scanner weighs approximately seven kilograms, thus not easily portable. It supports TWAIN software and protocol. TWAIN interface plays a crucial role in ensuring compatibility between image hardware and scanning software.
5. Doxie Flip – Best Portable Scanner
The Doxie Flip is cute, compact, and runs on batteries for absolute portability. Unlike many other portable scanners designed to slide across documents to capture images, this nifty device works just like a flatbed scanner.
Keep in mind that you do not need any computer or cables attached to use it. This is purely an independent little machine that can virtually scan anything.
The lid flips up to reveal a 4×6-inch glass scanning surface. You’ll find the power button, scan button, and an SD card slot for easy, intuitive operation on the right side of the Flip.
Meanwhile, there are five navigation buttons and a small color LCD screen up top. The latter has a handy status bar showing the battery level and number of scans remaining. If that weren’t impressive enough, the LCD display also gives a live view of what is being scanned.
Unfortunately, with the Flip’s small size comes poorer scan quality. While it has an adjustable DPI setting, which is nice, it only goes from 300 to 600 DPI.
Another drawback to its small size is it limits the items it’s capable of scanning. Unlike larger scanners, it’s not designed to scan documents, books, and the like.
However, if you already have a flatbed scanner but want something to scan business cards, index cards, pictures, stamps, and so on while out and about and on the go, it’s definitely an option worth considering.
6. Canon CanoScan Lide 300 – Best Slim Flatbed Scanner
The CanoScan Lide 300 is a prior version of the Lide 400 scanner. This flatbed scanner has a similar design to that of the Lide 400 scanner. Well, this scanner is ideal for light scanning duties, mainly in small offices. Despite its small size, this scanner has powerful scanning features.
This flatbed scanner has a relatively high image quality. The image quality of the scanner is relatively lower compared to the Lide 400 scanner. The canon Lide 300 has a 2400 x 2400 DPI resolution, which is ideal for home use.
Since this scanner is meant for light duties, it has an elegant design. The Lide 300 has small in size; thus, it doesn’t occupy a lot of space. This scanner is also easily portable due to its lightweight. There is no doubt that this may be one of your most ideal scanners to work with.
The Lide 300 scanner can also scan colored documents. It has a length of 14 inches, a width of 9 inches, and a 1-inch height. The Lide 300 weighs approximately 1.5kgs. This scanner also comes with a stand, which aids in keeping its frame upright.
The Lide 300 scanner has a relatively high scanning speed. It can scan an A4 page within ten seconds. This speed is relatively high compared to other small-scale scanners. With Lide 300, you won’t require any power source to operate the scanner; just plug it into your computer via a USB cable.
7. Epson Perfection V550 – Best Scanner for a Heavy Workload
The V550 produces outstanding image reproduction with 6400 by 9600 DPI optical resolution allowing you to create brilliant enlargements from photos beyond 13 by 19 inches.
Featuring a built-in transparency unit that produces high-quality scans from slides, negatives, and even medium-format panoramic films.
At the opposite end of the spectrum from the Doxie Flip, this beast of a flatbed is larger than an A3 sheet of paper and takes up substantial desktop real estate. However, when it comes to scanning, it does its job very, very well.
It also features four scan modes, including Home, Office, Full Auto, and Professional. Combined with Epson’s ReadyScan LED technology, it can scan virtually anything and makes the process easy as it can be.
All things considered, the Perfection V550 provides an excellent solution for any photo or document-heavy workload. Despite its bulky size, it’s affordable, produces high-quality scans, and is suitable for various applications.
8. Plustek OpticSlim 2610 – Best Scanner for Books
Unlike traditional flatbed scanners, which struggle with books and other thick items, the OpticSlim makes scanning virtually anything a breeze. Just place the item on the scanner’s glass base, close the lid, press a button, and watch it work its magic.
If this weren’t impressive enough, its DocAction software allows you to scan images at up to 4800 x 4800 DPI resolution, which is pretty awesome for a scanner in its price range.
With an auto-crop function, the OpticSlim is designed to make slim work of any scanning task.
9. Epson Perfection V850 Pro – Best Scanner for Professional-Quality Results
Dual lens system
Not only does it provide unparalleled scans with ADV and an impressive 6400 DPI resolution, but it also features an exclusive dual-lens system for optimum results regardless of what it’s scanning.
The tonal range of this pro-style Epson is also top-notch. Thanks to its use of 4.0 Dmax technology, it offers fine shadows, details, and smooth gradations; many other flatbeds can’t match.
10. CZUR ET18 PRO – Best Scanner for Large Items
The CZUR ET18 PRO has revolutionized the scanning experience by bringing life a flatbed scanner, unlike any other. Not only can it scan thick books, magazines, and every kind of paper document not exceeding A3 size, but it can do so without any need for cutting or unbinding at a whopping 1.5 seconds per page.
Incredible scanning time
Yes, you read that right. It scans items 10 times faster than traditional flatbed scanners. In fact, it can scan a 150-page book in under five minutes! A powerful 32-bit MIPS processor provides fast scanning.
Still not impressed? Did we mention it can scan 3D objects as well? Thanks to its unique lidless design, you can use it to scan and create a digital rendering of sculptures and a variety of other physical objects.
It does so by utilizing innovative side lighting. Lay a book or anything else underneath the camera on the glass tray, press a button, and watch it do its thing in the blink of an eye.
The CZUR’s OCR software is another nice touch. With it, you can convert scans into editable WORD and PDF formats and make adjustments right after they’re scanned.
11. Epson Perfection V39 – Best Budget-Friendly Scanner
Not only is it one of the most inexpensive and effective flatbed scanners on the market, but we were quite surprised with its performance in our testing. Despite costing much less than many other scanners on this list, we found it to produce vivid, crisp scans with minimal fuss or hassle.
The V39 offers high-quality scans at 4800 DPI optical resolution capturing your photos and documents with amazing precision.
The scanner can scan books, photo albums, and other large objects – thanks to the V39 removable lid.
The V39 easy front panel buttons make simple jobs a breeze allowing you to scan directly to email and create PDFs quickly.
The Epson V39 is also surprisingly slim and compact, so you can place it on any desk and stash it away when not in use. Plus, it features a nifty kickstand, which allows it to stand vertically and take up even less space.
Nonetheless, its scanning times aren’t exactly the best, so if you need to scan a book, it may take a while. It also isn’t suitable for scanning film negatives.
However, the reviews speak for themselves, and as far as inexpensive flatbeds go, the Epson V39 is quite simply one of the best around.
12. Xerox DocuMate 3220 Duplex – Best Scanner for Versatility and Ease of Use
Geared towards both individuals and office environments, it isn’t the fastest flatbed scanner around, but it provides a lot of bang for the buck.
The 3220 Duplex measures 17.9 x 13.2 inches and features a letter-sized flatbed and a 50-sheet document feeder with an ultrasonic feed detection sensor for ultimate scanning versatility.
13. Epson Perfection V19 – Best Scanner for Basic Use
If you’re on the hunt for a rock-solid flatbed scanner for basic high-resolution scanning jobs, the Epson Perfection V19 is definitely worth a look. This entry-level color scanner doesn’t produce professional quality photo scans, but it’s priced right and should serve the average individual or household quite well.
The lightweight, semi-portable flatbed scanner measures slightly larger than 8.5 x 11 inches, which means it can scan almost any document yet doesn’t take up too much desk space. It also comes with a handy kickstand, allowing it to work while standing upright and taking up less space.
Despite its low price, scanning with the Epson V19 is remarkably easy. Each of its four one-touch buttons allows you to scan, scan to PDF, copy, print, and share each scan with the press of a button. It even features an Easy Photo Print option, which is pretty neat, especially for a scanner at this price point.
However, unlike more expensive scanners, it doesn’t include an OCR program, so it can’t convert scanned documents into editable text. Other than this, it can just about do it all.
If you want an all-around great flatbed for scanning photos and occasional documents, the Epson Perfection V19 may be the perfect scanner for you.
Recently, the positions of flatbed scanners have noticeably squeezed out the hordes of MFPs (multi-function printers). However, it concerns mainly inexpensive mass models designed to solve office tasks: digitization of paper documents, the input of forms, text recognition, etc. If we consider the category of products aimed at advanced users, the situation here is completely different.
How many models of MFPs can you find that allow you to scan transparent originals and obtain satisfactory quality results? To count them, one hand is enough. That’s why scanners with these features are still in demand.
When shopping for a flatbed scanner, or any electronics for that matter, research is key. It’s one of those instances when putting in a little time on the front end will result in a lot fewer headaches on the back end.
By going over the information in this guide one more time and selecting the right scanner for you and your needs, you’ll save yourself a ton of stress and set yourself up for scanning success.