Desktop Scanners: How To Find a Device That Fits Your Workspace

A desktop scanner needs to process documents quickly, efficiently, and with no interruptions — whether at a workplace or home office.

Today's scanner market offers automatic document feeders, large flatbeds, portable units, and nearly any size and form factor of document digitization device in between. Each may boast impressive scan speeds, optical resolutions, and other advanced features. But when it comes to home and personal office use, the most important factor is reliability. A desktop scanner doesn't need every bell and whistle — it just needs to process documents quickly, efficiently, and with minimal interruptions or errors.

If the biggest consideration when purchasing electronics is how it will fit into your workspace, a desktop scanner might be right for you. Let's take a closer look at what to expect from today's models.

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What is a desktop scanner?

A desktop scanner is a device that digitizes personal documents, such as photographs and assorted daily paperwork. However, unlike their enterprise-focused counterparts, desktop models are expressly designed for individual and small business use. That means they are reasonably compact, which lets operators place them on a desk alongside a personal computer.

In a professional setting, desktop scanners are for operators who don’t need advanced features but insist on reliable equipment. As such, the scanners should take up as little space as possible while remaining fully capable of processing high volumes of documents, from client registration forms to daily receipts and beyond.

What are the benefits of desktop scanners?


For most home offices and small businesses, the most significant benefit of desktop scanners is their value. The average professional-grade scanner can cost thousands of dollars, reflecting exceptional scanning speeds, high optical resolutions, and other advanced capabilities. A desktop scanner with a more focused range of features, on the other hand, may be far more affordable. Most units sit within a comfortable $300 to $1000 range while easily tackling the digitization needs of a home or small office.

This pricing model makes it far easier for private individuals to purchase a brand-new device for a home office. Some businesses may even find it cost-effective to buy multiple desktop scanners and make them available to every employee within a given department. If the entire team is scanning documents daily, having multiple high-value units can be a better proposition than one expensive scanner with a line stretching out of the copy room.

Compact size

With the exception of some portable types of document digitization devices, desktop scanners tend to be the most compact. Most take up little more space than a large stack of standard paper, which is impressive, considering that some allow 100 pages or more to be stacked into their document feeders. This size makes it easy to include a desktop scanner in any home office without disrupting existing fixtures in the space.

Taking up minimal space can also benefit small businesses. For example, desktop scanners eliminate the need for large, dedicated scanning stations located far away from individual desks. In addition, retail business owners and managers can easily tuck their scanner out of sight when not in use and retrieve it as required. In short, it’s possible to integrate the scanner with any working environment instead of building working environments around the scanner.

High performance

Desktop scanners may be compact, but that doesn’t mean they’re low performance. Thanks to automated feeders and high scanning speeds, many units can still process a high volume of documents. Some even let the operator implement customizable settings for handling different document types, such as id cards, business cards, envelopes or long documents.

Did You Know? The fi-8170 can scan up to 70 pages per minute and 10,000 pages per day. Click here to learn more.

Features of the best desktop scanners

Document feeder

There are two use cases to consider when it comes to desktop scanners. The first is making use of an automated document feeder (ADF) to take several — or several dozen — documents and digitizing them one at a time with no additional input from the operator. Most scanners will have customizable settings to define whether each document requires an individual image file or whether they will all be pages within a single PDF document. Manual feed mode is the second use case, allowing the capture of credit cards, IDs, envelopes, and other thick documents.

When processing multiple documents using an ADF, it’s crucial to minimize the number of disruptive errors. The most common occurs when two records go through the feed simultaneously, failing to digitize all of the sides of the paper.

Multi-feed sheet detection identifies this error the moment it occurs and flags it for the operator, even identifying overlap or unusual paper lengths. Some of the best desktop scanners offer customizable settings to ignore false multifeeds of taped on receipts and sticky notes. With these capabilities, operators can include documents of varying sizes in an ADF while remaining confident in the final scan results.

Fast and uninterrupted scans

Whether your scanner is professional-grade or designed for home use, the last thing you want is a paper jam. Look at customer reviews and manufacturer guarantees to ensure your chosen device can sustain an uninterrupted scanning process. Similarly, investigate each model’s scanning speed, measured in impressions per minute (IPM) or pages per minute (PPM). For a desktop scanner, 40 to 80 pages per minute is an ideal benchmark for overall efficiency.

Document scanning software

When you’re operating a scanner, the actual scanning is just half of the job — the next step is organizing the digital documents and making them available to co-workers. To that end, many scanners are bundled with document scanning software that helps you sort through files the moment they’re processed. These tools make it easier to organize databases, upload files to cloud storage, or even reference text data from individual documents. These features go a long way toward increasing productivity outside of the scanning process.

Did You Know? The ScanSnap iX1600 includes WiFi connectivity and cloud functionality, so you can scan documents directly to your preferred cloud server. Click here to learn more.

Our recommendations: the fi-8170 and ScanSnap iX1600

Those in the market for a desktop scanner have no shortage of options. We take great pride in having spent the last 50+ years researching, designing and developing some of the most advanced and powerful electronics in the world, including our production grade fi Series scanners.

Built to purpose for the most demanding document handling jobs, fi and SP scanners are capable of processing tens-of-thousands of pages per day at the highest levels of accuracy. Their intuitive integration capabilities with all existing work suites minimize time-to-value for businesses looking to invest in tools that will pay dividends for years to come.

When choosing a desktop scanner, it’s important to consider whether it is for a home office or shared workspace. We recommend the ScanSnap iX1600 for personal use. This model is designed for everyday scanning tasks, such as processing 40 double-sided pages every minute or reproducing photos in under a second. In addition, the iX1600 lets you digitize, manage, and deliver documents 33% faster than other ScanSnap devices, freeing your time to focus on high-priority tasks.

On the other hand, if you need extra performance at the workplace, check out the fi-8170. Designed for demanding workflows, this scanner ups the ante with 70 PPM and a heavy-duty design that ensures uninterrupted scans. The fi-8170 also uses innovative feeding technology and proprietary Clear Image Capture support to deliver industry-leading reliability in a compact package. Click here to learn more or shop the rest of our production scanner line.