IT Ideas: Scanner Edition

Buying electronics is always difficult for businesses.  They are expensive and come in so many varieties, it’s hard to determine which one is right from you.  As the designated IT guy(Dude that spends more time at the computer than everyone else), let me share a bit of what I have come to learn about buying electronics for your business.  At Isle Concierge, we are primarily a company powered by Mac computers(I being the lone linux/windows exception).  A while back we had purchased a scanner for our company’s documents.  Most scanners on the market will work with both PC and MACs.  However, there is a big difference depending on what you are going to scan.  Let me try to break it down and help give some ideas on how to decide what works for you.

Document Sheet Loaded Scanner

Document Sheet Loaded Scanner

If you are a business that scans large quantities of documents, many companies make scanners that specifically scan documents.  These tend to be fast while preserving document quality.  However, they are no good for scanning photos or anything with an intricate image.  These tend to be more useful for businesses that are trying to digitize all of their documents and are going for a paperless system.  These types of scanners tend to be on the more expensive side ranging from $200 to over $1,000.  These scanners tend to have software that is operating system specific.  Meaning ones designed for Windows will not work on MAC OSX unless that computer runs some kind of program to emulate windows.

Simple photo scanner

Simple photo scanner

A different option would be to use a photo scanner.  These tend to be much slower in comparison to the heavy duty document scanners.  However, they are also much cheaper, easier to find, and are a lot more flexible.  Because of their targeted audience, these scanners have software that is supported on both Windows and Mac systems.  The software is also easy to use and integrates into applications that are already on the system.  Price ranges on these scanners range from around $100 to maybe $800.  The high end photo scanners are mainly for professionals, and are overkill for documents.

Another thing to keep in mind is what they will be using these scans for.  If it is being stored as just records, most scanners are fine for that.  However, if they are looking to do something fancy like integrating scanned receipts into their book keeping software.  That will be another thing to look for in purchasing a scanner.  For our company, the scanner situation is setup a little different than most.  Because we primarily use macs for all of our staff, we use a Windows Emulator for our scanner.  The scanner we use is meant for a PC and the scanner software is able to link directly into our accounting software.  The software is also able to identify information on receipts and is able to store it logically.  We had already purchased the emulation software for our accounting, so adding the scanner for that purpose was an easy choice.

Generally, using scanners from larger companies like HP or Epson tend to be a better option.  Larger companies tend to have better support and most times have local repair companies or facilities.  Also supplies and accessories for these products are much easier to find.

As with all electronics for the workplace, what you decide to buy must fit what your company needs.  This is often the hardest thing to judge.  Buying something with too many bells and whistles may end up being a waste of money if it’s not fully utilized.  On the other extreme, you can’t expect a low end system to do everything and make coffee.  Much like Goldee Locks, you need to find that scanner that is just right.  Using review sites is highly recommended.  While every company/individual’s experience with a product will differ, it’s a good way to get an idea of some of the pro’s and con’s.  Here’s a couple of sites I like to use.

PC Magazine

PC Review

Mac Review Zone

And of course, google search engine is a great way to get some quick reviews.  I hope this helps any of you that are looking to buy a scanner for either yourself or your company.  Till next time, I’ll be browsing the interwebs making it look like I’m doing work.

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