Choosing a scanner

USB 1.1 (Universal Serial Bus)

Like most computer hardware, a scanner connects to your computer via a cable. USB is how a piece of external computer hardware (such as a mouse, keyboard or scanner) that communicates with the rest of your computer.
Smaller volume scanners use a USB cable to connect to your computer, however they do tend to be slower than other alternatives. The speed of the scanner is determined by how quickly the paper is fed into it and how quickly the information is transferred into the computer.
If you are considering buying a USB scanner you should make sure your computer has a USB port in order for it to plug into.

Firewire or USB 2.0

Firewire is another method used by mid-range scanners to connect to your computer, however this uses a Firewire cable. Firewire is capable of transferring the scanned image into your computer much faster than USB. Although Firewire is faster, it is more expensive than USB. Some scanners can utilise either USB or Firewire.

SCSI (Small Computer Systems Interface)

Pronounced "skuzzy", this is the connection method used by high-end production level scanners. This connection allows for very high speed transfer from paper to computer. In order to connect a SCSI scanner, you may require an additional piece of hardware that must be installed inside your computer.

VRS (Virtual Rescan)

This is a technology that is designed to improve the automated scanning of documents of varying sizes, colours and brightness's or faded documents such as carbon copies. Scanning batches of documents that have a high variation in these areas means having to configure the scanner for each document type and then scanning those documents together. VRS detects these variations and automatically corrects them.
VRS can take one of two forms; sometimes it is built into the scanner’s hardware or supplied as a component that has to be installed inside your computer. VRS can also take the form of software you install inside your computer.
If your documents contain a high level of variation then you should consider purchasing a scanner that includes VRS, however there other technologies similar to this that do a similar thing.


This is usually a function of the software that comes with some scanners. It essentially straightens a page if it is scanned in crooked.


This feature of some scanning software automatically detects the paper size you are scanning and crops your document so that there are no borders around the outside of the captured image.

PPM (Pages Per Minute)

This describes how many pages the scanner can scan per minute. This number can vary depending on a number of factors, including whether you are scanning in colour, black and white, and the resolution at which you are scanning your images. Be sure to ask how many ppm you can expect while scanning both colour and black and white.

TWAIN (Toolkit Without An Interesting Name)

This is the software or driver that lets your computer communicate with the scanner connected to it. Different vendors supply different TWAIN drivers with their scanners. The TWAIN driver can have an impact on the performance of your scanner so it is best to check as many reviews and testimonials as you can before you decide to purchase.