Digital imaging has come of age. Equipment that was once reserved for the wealthiest bureaux is now commonplace on the desktop. The powerful PCs required to manipulate digital images are now considered entry level, so it comes as no surprise to learn that scanners, the devices used to get images into a PC, are one of the fastest growing markets today.

At its most basic level, a scanner is just another input device, much like a keyboard or mouse, except that it takes its input in graphical form. These images could be photographs for retouching, correction or use in DTP. They could be hand-drawn logos required for document letterheads. They could even be pages of text which suitable software could read and save as an editable text file.

The list of scanner applications is almost endless, and has resulted in products evolving to meet specialist requirements:

  • high-end drum scanners, capable of scanning both reflective art and transparencies, from 35mm slides to 16-foot x 20in material at high (10,000dpi+) resolutions
  • compact document scanners, designed exclusively for OCR and document management
  • dedicated photo scanners, which work by moving a photo over a stationary light source
  • slide/transparency scanners, which work by passing light through an image rather than reflecting light off it
  • handheld scanners, for the budget end of the market or for those with little desk space.

However, flatbed scanners are the most versatile and popular format. These are capable of capturing color pictures, documents, pages from books and magazines, and, with the right attachments, even scan transparent photographic film.

PC Components | Processors (CPUs) | PC Data Storage | PC Multimedia | PC Input/Output | Communications | Mobile Computing

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