Duplex Scanners: How to Pick a Model For Double Sided Imaging

Make scanning two-sided documents fast and easy by finding the right duplex digital imaging device

Automatic document feeders (ADF) are fast, saving you time, but if the scanner can only scan in simplex--one side at a time--you lose the efficiency gained because you have to scan the same stack twice to capture the backside.

Printing on both sides of a document is a great way to save both paper and space, and nearly every professional document is printed on both sides. That's why duplex scanners are specially made for digitizing both sides of papers, cards, and other documents with ease and speed.

Not every ADF scanner is a duplex scanner. If scanning both sides of a document at once is a priority, you have a few additional qualifications to consider when looking for your ideal solution. In this article, we'll run through some of the questions to think about ahead of time, as well as two strong contenders for the best duplex scanner to meet your needs.

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What is a duplex scanner?

A duplex scanner is a standalone digital document imaging device that is capable of scanning both sides of a document at once. An ADF duplex scanner has two cameras, top and bottom, allowing simultaneous capture of both sides of the document without slowing. Duplex scanners can come with a range of other options that make them well suited to a variety of applications, and can be found in every class from business to home document scanners.

What are the benefits of duplex scanners?

Duplex scanners cut down on the time required for scanning two-sided documents, eliminating the need to remove the document, flip it over, and scan it again to capture both sides. They also reduce the complexity of combining both sides of a document in a single output file. Fast duplex scanners can scan front and back at 80 plus images a minute.

Did You Know? The fi-8000 series uses new Clear Image Capture technology to deliver amazing image quality. Click here to learn more.

How to choose the best duplex scanner

Since duplex scanners are available across various price points and feature sets, you should consider your overall needs for a document imaging device before you decide on a particular model. Here are some key points.

Types of documents

If you know you will need to digitize IDs, business cards, passports, brochures, and any number of other common document types, you should make sure you chose a duplex scanner that supports them with minimal hassle. It may suffice to use carrier sheets if you only occasionally need to scan smaller or irregularly sized documents, but otherwise having dedicated options will likely save you quite a bit of hassle.

Estimated daily volume

What kind of setting the scanner will be used in? An office that needs to digitize dozens, perhaps even hundreds of documents a day will benefit greatly from a scanner with ADF, or automatic document feeder, functionality. ADF means you can set a stack of documents on the scanner's intake tray, activate the scanning batch, and leave it to do its work. On the other hand, if you only need to scan a handful of documents a day, you can probably get by with an inexpensive scanner.

Measurements and workspace

A duplex scanner can be a powerful way to improve your workflow, but only if it fits where you need it to. Measure the space you plan to set aside for this purpose, then compare that to the dimensions of the scanners you're considering. Keep in mind that scanners have moving parts and may require additional space while operating — some models have folded trays for easy storage when not in use.

Did You Know? PCMag found the fi-800R's “petite size, robust software, and great capabilities make it a near-perfect candidate for front-desk customer and client processing.” Click here to learn more.

Our recommendation for professional versatility: fi-800R

Those in the market for a duplex 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.

The fi-800R offers versatile scanning options while taking up about half a sheet of paper's worth of horizontal space. Its ADF hopper holds up to 30 sheets at a time via U-turn scan, and its Automatic Skew Correction ensures that even roughly set documents are straightened before they pass through the scanner. The return scan track can be used to easily digitize both sides of documents up to 5 mm thick, such as booklets and ID cards, taking them in and sending them back from the same spot.

The fi-800R's flexibility and small size make it well-suited for use either as a standalone device or as part of an integrated kiosk. We believe it's the ideal choice for office users looking to add a duplex scanner to their professional environment.

Our recommendation for affordable efficiency: ScanSnap iX1400

The ScanSnap iX1400 will help you digitize a lot of two-sided documents fast, without needing the budget or space of a big office device. Its ADF hopper holds up to 50 pages at once, supporting a top scanning speed of 40 pages per minute. While its one-touch scanning feature makes it a perfect choice for users who prefer simplicity, its Receipts Guide and Manual Scan Mode make it easy to digitize a range of document sizes too.

The ScanSnap iX1400 integrates with the ScanSnap Home software to enable managing, editing, and accessing data from documents and business cards with minimal fuss. While it requires a USB connection to function, you can opt for the ScanSnap iX1600 if you'd prefer a similar feature set with built-in Wi-Fi support. Click here to learn more and shop the full line of ScanSnap scanners.