Do I really need a scanner?
This question was answered on September 22, 2000. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
Much like the SUV owner that never goes off-road, most scanners end up simply collecting dust in the long run The main reason for this is, most people have a "romantic" view of what a scanner will do for them, based mainly on stories they have heard from others
If the main reason you want one is to scan in pictures, you may be better off purchasing a digital camera Although they cost more than a scanner, they will likely be used alot more than a scanner for this purpose You can take your old negatives to most photo development houses to have existing images converted to files and use the digital camera for future images Most new scanner users find the "cataloging" process to be too difficult when it comes to large numbers of images They can scan them in, but don't know what to do with them once they are in the computer and in many cases, have no idea where they went on the hard drive The less technical you are, the more likely a digital camera will be a better solution.
Many people buy scanners to scan large quantities of documents into their computer There are two ways of scanning a document into your computer; as an image (which can not be edited and takes alot of space) or as text (using OCR - Optical Character Recognition software so that the text can be edited) OCR software can be fairly accurate or way off the mark when trying to determine what each character is on a page, which can mean lots of time editing the document of all of the words that were incorrectly recognized The fantasy of a paperless office via scanned documents sounds good, but in practice is generally more work than its worth.
If at all possible, spend some time on a friends computer that has a scanner so you can fully understand all that is involved Scanning an image is just the beginning of the process and you should make sure that you are up to the task!
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on September 22, 2000