Scanners may not be as frequently used in offices as printers or desktop computers, but they are very useful for preserving and storing hard copy documents and their contents. When your office receives a document, such as a signed contract from a client, the fine print of an insurance plan, or a purchase receipt (both of which you do not have soft copies of), you may need to scan the documents and keep the digital copies as backup.
You might ask, why not just photocopy them? There are many things to consider here. First, if you need to keep a soft copy instead of another hard copy of the document, you’ll need to have it scanned. Second, if the integrity of the print or the signatures on the paper will be compromised on the copy (if the pen mark is too faint, the writing may not be visible anymore on a photocopy), it will be better to scan it to preserve the entirety of the document. Third, with a soft copy in hand you can always print out precisely similar hard copies of the documents any time you need them. That should cover the convenience of having an instant hard copy from a photocopier.
Take note that two of the reasons above speak of the importance of preserving the integrity of the original documents, that none of them be missing any visible component when reproduced or stored in archives.
What is DPI?
This is why it is necessary to look at the DPI when you shop for an office scanner. DPI or dots per inch indicate the clarity of the pages scanned.
Theoretically, the higher the DPI value, the clearer should be the details and nuances of the scanned page. However, it seems that there are also other factors that come in the picture (such as the software of the scanner) because there is no way this can be a rule of thumb. There have been countless image tests to compare scanners with different DPIs, and the results are inconsistent.
In some cases, the scanner with the higher DPI produced clearer and sharper images when viewed on the computer. However, there are also tests wherein the lower DPI scanner produced sharper images than the one with the higher DPI.
So, supposing that the difference is in the software, the quality of the lens optics, and the brightness of the scanner, for example, then it probably does make sense that high DPI should actually produce clearer and sharper scans than low DPI.
How to Judge DPI Values
If given a choice between two scanners with different DPIs, the best way to find out which one produces a better quality is to perform a test run. This is the best way to settle debates on which one is better, especially if the hardware and software installed in each unit are different from the other. You cannot compare two very different machines, but you can compare the quality of their output.
Who Will Benefit from High DPI Scanners?
New offices in general have little need of scanners because their processes will likely be computerized from the start. They won’t have a lot of documents to scan because data will be entered right into the computers and servers. Sooner or later though, they will find a need for this equipment. Examples are scanning signatures (for ID printing and formal email letters), hard copy documents from sources outside the office, photographs, and employees’ signed contracts (for documentation purposes).
The exception would be if document scanning is a huge part of the office’s operations. Examples would be recruitment offices (they receive resumes and other employee records on a daily basis, records that can accumulate fast and would soon have to be archived digitally) and publishing companies.
Company offices that are decades old are usually the ones that need scanners more. If they haven’t upgraded their recording systems to computers and automatic systems early on, they’ll need to catch up with documenting their records. A scanner will be of great help because it will be able to keep digital records of a hundred or more pages. There’ll be no need for the staff to manually type their contents into the system.
In all these scenarios, the importance of clarity and quality of scanners is still prominent. Whatever document, paper, or photograph it is, for whatever purpose they are, the important thing will always be that they are scanned and copied as precisely as possible.